Keith's note: Dan Dumbacher is leaving NASA In June to take a tenured position at Purdue University in their aerospace engineering department.
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Keith's note: Dan Dumbacher is leaving NASA In June to take a tenured position at Purdue University in their aerospace engineering department.
"John C. Houbolt, an engineer whose contributions to the U.S. space program were vital to NASA's successful moon landing in 1969, has died. He was 95. His efforts in the early 1960s are largely credited with convincing NASA to focus on the launch of a module carrying a crew from lunar orbit, rather than a rocket from earth or a space craft while orbiting the planet."
John Houbolt, Wikipedia
Keith's note: This NLRB mandated notice was sent to all employees at Caltech/JPL and just appeared as a huge banner on JPL's internal web page. It states: "The National Labor Relations Board has found that we violated Federal labor law and has ordered us to post and obey this notce."
The hierarchy at JPL for disciplinary actions is: 1. Oral warning 2. Written warning 3. Final written warning 4. Involuntary termination. As such, the wording in this formal NLRB notice this clearly indicates that some pro-union activity got the second level of discipline against these people from JPL management - until the NLRB stomped on Caltech/JPL, that is. Click on image to enlarge for full NLRB notice.
NLRB Rules Against JPL on HSPD-12 Actions, earlier post
"By issuing written warnings to Robert Nelson, Dennis Byrnes, Scott Maxwell, Larry D'Addario, and William Bruce Banerdt because they engaged in protected, concerted activities, the Respondent has engaged in unfair labor practices affecting commerce within the meaning of Section 8(a)(1) and Section 2(6) and (7) of the Act. Having found that the Respondent has engaged in certain unfair labor practices, I shall order it to cease and desist therefrom and to take certain affirmative action designed to effectuate the policies of the Act."
Joseph D. Barksdale, 79, went from cotton fields to NASA, Baltimore Sun
"Joseph D. Barksdale, 79, died March 15 at his home in Laurel. Joseph Decatur Barksdale, who went from the cotton fields of Mississippi where his family was sharecropping to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where he oversaw the information technology department, died March 15 at his home in Laurel from complications from a fall. He was 79."
Mr. Bowden Wilson Ward, Jr., 79, of Seabrook, MD, died Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Retired in 1996 as an Aerospace Engineer from NASA. Mr. Ward's career with Goddard Space Flight Center spanned 33 years and included many projects including OSO, GRO and GOES.
Kelly M. Carter, age 57 of Laurel, MD, departed this life at her home in Laurel, MD, surrounded by her family on Friday, March 7, 2014. Kelly was born April 26, 1956 and was the daughter of the late Andrew and Myrna Dargan. She retired from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) after 35 years of extraordinary federal government service.
"Pogue, together with astronauts Gerald Carr and Edward Gibson, spent 84 consecutive days in space from 1973 to 1974 aboard Skylab, the first American space station. Their 12 weeks in orbit was a record at the time, topping the previous Skylab mission's eight weeks. They orbited the earth 1,214 times while aboard the station, traveling 35.5 million miles."
Keith's note: NASA HQ offices in Washington DC area are closed on Monday per OPM.
"Dale A. Gardner, an astronaut who helped lead the first salvage operation in space, steering a jet-propelled backpack to corral two wayward satellites and bring them aboard the space shuttle Discovery, all while orbiting 224 miles above Earth, died on Feb. 19 in Colorado Springs. He was 65. His death was confirmed by NASA, which did not provide a cause."
Keith's note: SETI Institute Founding CEO Tom Pierson has left our planet. Learn more about his life here. Ad Astra, Tom.
"Under Pierson's guidance, the Institute grew from a tiny, narrowly focused research center with a handful of employees to its current status: an internationally known organization that is home to more than 130 scientists, educators, and support staff. While founded to conduct SETI searches, the Institute soon broadened its mandate to encompass all aspects of understanding the nature and prevalence of life beyond Earth."
Peter J. Salerno, a senior electrical systems engineer for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for 30 years, died Jan. 6 at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. He was 53. He had a heart attack and complications from diabetes, his mother-in-law, Dorothy Boerner, said.
Dr. Richard Battin, formerly of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory and the MIT Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, passed away on Saturday, February 8. Dr. Battin played a key role in the development of guidance and navigation theory used in the Apollo Program. His books Astronautical Guidance and An Introduction to the Mathematics and Methods of Astrodynamics have been important references for several generations of engineers in the space program.
A federal union representing NASA employees said racial "bias is robust" in a letter last week to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE) told OPM Director Katherine Archuleta that "NASA's performance ratings are improperly influenced by demographic factors such that, on average, white employees are rated higher than minority employees. The bias is robust across centers and has been a persistent feature over time." The letter from Lee Stone, an IFPTE vice president, said "NASA has two levels of above-standard performance which invites supervisory mischief whereby the highest level often ends up preferentially allocated to friends-of-management, leaving the next tier for high-performing employees who are not plugged-in with management, including exceptional minority employees."
"It is with great sadness that I must provide you with compelling evidence that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been systematically violating 5 CFR S430.208 as well as the 14th amendment rights of its employees for at least the past six years."
Keith's note: This is a serious accusation - one that IFPTE needs to actually prove - i.e. with verifiable numbers, reports, statements, etc. "Mischief" does not a formal case make.
"NASA will pay will tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other NASA colleagues, during the agency's Day of Remembrance on Friday, Jan. 31. NASA's Day of Remembrance honors members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other agency senior officials will hold an observance and wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery Friday morning."
"Robert L. Sackheim May 16, 1937 - December 22, 2013. Robert L. Sackheim lost his battle with respiratory illness, his family by his bedside. He's survived by wife Babette, daughter Karen (Gary), son Andrew (Lindsey), grandchildren Adam, Madison, Benett. Bob worked at TRW and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center(Assistant Center Director/Chief Engineer for Space Propulsion)."
Astronaut Leland Melvin to Leave NASA
"I am sorry to inform the NASA family that my good friend and our Associate Administrator for Education, Leland Melvin, has decided to retire next month after more than 24 years of NASA service. Since assuming the role of AA in 2010, Leland has streamlined NASA's education organization and portfolio to deliver science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) content more effectively to educators and students. Using NASA's unique missions, programs and other agency assets, he has helped cultivate the next generation of explorers - one that is truly inclusive and properly reflects the diverse make up and talent of this nation's youth and our agency's future. - Charlie B"
Arthur Y. Hou, NASA weather scientist, dies at 66, Washington Post
"Arthur Y. Hou, a specialist in climate science and space-based observation of clouds, who was the chief scientist for a NASA satellite project to measure precipitation around the world, died Nov. 20 at his home in Potomac, Md. He was 66."
"Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Edward J. Mango, (52, Orlando) today pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with acting in his official capacity while having a financial conflict of interest, a felony. Mango faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set."
"A felony conviction does not automatically make one unsuitable for Federal employment. When making a suitability determination, an agency will evaluate the individual's character traits and decide whether their employment or continued employment would or would not protect the integrity or promote the efficiency of the service. The factors that may form the basis for finding a person unsuitable can be found under 5 CFR 731.202(b) and include criminal or dishonest conduct."
Keith's note: NASA says that they are not going to make any decision on Ed Mango's employment future until he is sentenced early next year. Back in the day if a government employee was found (or admitted to be) guilty of a job-related felony like this they'd have been shown the door regardless of what sentence they eventually got. Not any more, so it would seem. That said, there may be more shoes to drop - who knew what - and when did they know it, for example.
At many agencies, fears of an exodus, Federal Times
"Among federal organizations with more than 1,000 employees, NASA's Ames Research Center had the highest proportion of retirement-eligibles: More than one out of four of its 1,200 employees are able to retire immediately. That percentage is well above other NASA agencies. At Ames, the staff is "very energized" by its work on aeronautics and space applications, Associate Director Deborah Feng said in written answers. In addition, she said, employees often leave to take jobs at local companies, only to return later on to Ames' benefit."
Keith's note: Randy Stone, former Director of MOD, and Deputy Center Director at JSC, died today after a long battle with cancer.
"Mr. Stone's NASA experience spans Apollo, Apollo-Soyuz, Skylab, Space Shuttle, and International Space Station. He is a 1967 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Aerospace Engineering."
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts
"Today, President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:
- David Radzanowski - Chief Financial Officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration"
"David Lavery, program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington, and scientist William Borucki of NASA's Ames Research Centers in Moffett, Field, Calif., were the agency's honorees. Lavery and his Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team received the Science and Environment medal for their work on the successful development, launch, landing, operations, and science activities of the Curiosity rover. Borucki was honored as a finalist for the Career Achievement medal for his visionary work on the Kepler mission launched in 2009. The mission was designed to search for potentially habitable extra-solar planets or exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system."
Keith's note: This audio clip of the late Mike Wargo is aboard LADEE. It was sent back to Earth from the Moon yesterday. Now, if anyone happens to visit the Moon and asks LADEE what it is doing there, Mike will let them know - from lunar orbit.
A Memorial Tribute for Mike Wargo will be held on October 17, 2013 from 11:00-noon with an informal reception to follow. The tribute will be held at the Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC. Please note that the Cosmos Club requests that gentlemen wear a jacket and tie. Those who wish to give a gift in Mike's memory are encouraged to make a donation to MIT Michael J. Wargo for the Department of Materials Science Endowed Fellowship Fund. Contact Bonny Kellerman, bonnyk -at- mit.edu or at 617-253-9722
- Crater Wargo, earlier post
- NASA Lunar Exploration Analysis Group Statement on the Passing of Dr. Michael Wargo, earlier post
- Mike Wargo, earlier post
NASA Administrator Remembers Mercury Astronaut Scott Carpenter
"The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the passing of original Mercury astronaut Malcom Scott Carpenter from complications following a stroke. Carpenter, who was the second American to orbit the Earth in 1962, was 88. "Today, the world mourns the passing of Scott Carpenter. As one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he was in the first vanguard of our space program -- the pioneers who set the tone for our nation's pioneering efforts beyond Earth and accomplished so much for our nation."
"When John Glenn soared into space as the first American in orbit, Scott Carpenter wished him bon voyage with three simple words: "Godspeed, John Glenn." Glenn bid farewell to his lifelong pal who died Thursday in the same way. "Godspeed, Scott Carpenter --Great Friend," Glenn, the last remaining Mercury 7 astronaut, said in a statement issued by his spokesman on Friday. He added: "You are missed."
Scott Carpenter, Wikipedia
"Comments are invited on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of NASA, including whether the information collected has practical utility; (2) the accuracy of NASA's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including automated collection techniques or the use of other forms of information technology."
"NASA will shut down almost entirely, but Mission Control will remain open to support the astronauts serving on the Space Station."
"If a FY 2014 continuing resolution is not passed before 12:01 AM on October 1, NASA can only engage in activities related to the orderly shutdown of operations and performance of excepted activities. As a required part of a shutdown, employees who will not be performing activities excepted by law will be furloughed and unable to work for the duration of the shutdown, unless recalled for an excepted activity."
Due to the gov't shutdown, all public NASA activities/events are cancelled or postponed until further notice. Sorry for the inconvenience.— NASA (@NASA) October 1, 2013
Keith's note: Sam Pool died this morning after a battle with cancer. His family will be making arrangements for a memorial in Houston. Details will be posted. According to NASA: "Dr. Pool served as NASA's Assistant Director of Space Medicine in the Space and Life Sciences Directorate at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) during Phase 1. He and the flight surgeons were responsible for providing medical support to the astronauts and their families pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight, They were also in charge of training the crews in medical techniques necessary and potentially necessary on-orbit. Pool has worked for NASA since the Apollo Program and helped to develop a set a of medical standards for spaceflight, which are used to medically screen astronauts."
"However, prudent management requires that we be prepared for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse could occur at the end of the month. A lapse would mean that a number of government activities would cease due to a lack of appropriated funding. It would also mean that a number of employees would be temporarily furloughed. To prepare for this possibility, we are working with our General Counsel and our Chief Financial Officer to update our contingency plans for executing an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by a lapse in appropriations."
NASA Ames Federal Employees Union Memo: Potential Shutdown Looming Yet Again
"With the turmoil of the DOI snafu and its 4-day delay in paychecks fresh on our minds, you need to be acutely aware that a shutdown could have a much bigger financial impact on you and your family, especially given that we would not likely receive retroactive pay as we did after the shutdowns of the 1990's. Please act accordingly and keep some funds in reserve, if you possibly can."
"Individuals with a security clearance have agreed to certain restrictions regarding classified information. Accessing classified information on Wikileaks, even from home, constitutes a security violation. Viewing classified information from a computer that isn't authorized to access classified information, and/or viewing classified information that he or she is not authorized access to, is a security violation. And, use of official Government computers for other than authorized purposes is prohibited by federal ethics laws."
Bruce Murray (1931-2013), Planetary Society
"One of the most remarkable minds of 20th century exploration was stilled this morning, August 29, 2013, when Bruce C. Murray died of Alzheimer's disease at the age of 81. The Planetary Society owes its existence to Bruce, who with Carl Sagan, decided in 1979 that the world needed an organization that would harness the public's fascination planetary exploration and demonstrate to politicians that voters would support those who supported planetary exploration. Bruce and Carl directed the organization together for sixteen years, until Carl's death, and Bruce took over as president for another 5 years."
Bruce C. Murray, NASA space scientist, dies at 81, Washington Post
"Dr. Murray was director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a space exploration arm of NASA, from 1976 to 1982. He began working for the space laboratory in 1960 while serving as a geology professor at the California Institute of Technology, which manages the JPL, based in Pasadena, Calif."
Robert S. Kramer, Washington Post
"As Director of Planetary Exploration at NASA, Bob was instrumental in sending spacecraft to all eight planets of the Solar System. At the Rocketdyne division of North American Aviation in CA, he had a hand in designing every rocket engine that sent Americans into space until the Space Shuttle. He earned the Distinguished Service Medal, NASA's highest honor."
"C. Gordon Fullerton, who compiled a distinguished career as a NASA astronaut, research pilot and Air Force test pilot spanning almost 50 years, died Aug. 21. He was 76. Fullerton had sustained a severe stroke in late 2009, and had been confined to a long-term care facility in Lancaster, Calif., for most of the past 3 1/2 years. Fullerton logged 382 hours in space flight on two space shuttle missions while in the NASA astronaut corps from 1969 to 1986. He then transferred to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, where he served for 22 years as a research test pilot on a variety of high-profile projects. During the latter years of his career at NASA Dryden, he served as Associate Director of Flight Operations and as chief of the directorate's flight crew branch prior to his retirement at the end of 2007."
Keith's note: I can clearly recall seeing Gordon Fullerton's antics in the portion of this video that starts at 09:48. I worked at Rockwell Downey at the time and my co-workers did all of the company's launch and landing photography. They were complaining for weeks about having to take all of their cameras apart to get the gypsum dust out after the landing at White Sands.
Joyce DeVenny passed away Sunday, August 18, 2013. Joyce first joined NASA as part of the Space Station Freedom Program Office in Reston, VA and later transferred to the Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences Division at NASA Headquarters. Visitation will be held Friday, August 23 at Mattingley Gardiner Funeral Home in Leonardtown, MD from 10 to 11 a.m. with a service in the Chapel at 11. Any inquiries or request for information or address for condolences can be forwarded to Vicki Thorne at vwt22 - at - comcast.net
"NASA is asking the International Astronomical Union to name a crater on the moon in his honor "so his name will be forever enshrined in the heavens."
- NASA Lunar Exploration Analysis Group Statement on the Passing of Dr. Michael Wargo, earlier post
- Mike Wargo, earlier post
More Names Emerge for NASA Deputy Administrator, Space News
"The thing about throwing out names is that it encourages other people -- smarter, better connected people -- to follow suit, even if only privately.
And, boy, have they. Followed suit, I mean.
Included below are some solid candidates for NASA deputy administrator I shouldn't have overlooked and others I wouldn't have thought of myself. No tongue in cheek here. All top-shelf candidates, two of which could easily replace Charlie Bolden as NASA administrator if he's as sick of Washington as he sometimes lets on. "
Marc's note: The list includes: Pam Melroy, Patti Grace Smith, David Radzanowski, Ann Zulkosky and Richard DalBello. And this is only the beginning.
"While I am sorry to be losing such a talented and passionate co-pilot, I am happy that Lori is continuing to pursue her dreams and make her mark in the aerospace industry. Her last day at NASA will be Sept. 6, and she assumes her new role at ALPA on Sept. 9. I will personally miss her candid and sage advice and good humor. Lori will always be a great friend to me and to our agency."
- Statements on NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver's Announced Departure, NASA
- Deputy Administrator, Lori Garver leaving NASA: Champion of NASA's vision, workforce and U.S. aerospace to join Pilot's Union, IFPTE
- CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria Statement on Lori Garver's Departure from NASA, CSF
- Congressman Fattah Statement on the Departure of NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver
Keith's note: According the NLSI Twitter: "NASA's chief exploration scientist, Mike Wargo, passed away unexpectedly yesterday. We will miss his leadership and friendship enormously." I'll post more information as I receive it. Very sad - Mike was such a nice person and believed in space exploration in a very personal way.
"The Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) on behalf of the broader lunar community wishes to expresses its deep shock and sadness at the news that Dr. Mike Wargo passed away unexpectedly over the weekend of August 3-4, 2013. Mike was the Executive Secretary of LEAG and championed the Moon at NASA HQ."
Keith's note: NASA sources report that John Billingham has passed away. John ran the SETI Program Office when NASA used to do SETI. He also ran life science at NASA Ames. John was one of the first people I met when I started to work at NASA's Life Sciences Division in the 1980s. He was not your stereotypical NASA employee - his accent, background, and demeanor - were decidely old world mixed with a dose of California crazy. An M.D. and former RAF officer running NASA's search for extraterrestrial intelligence? That sounds like something out of Dr. Who. That was John - he was always a hoot to be around and will be missed.
John Billingham, SETI Institute
"Captivated by the prospect of detecting sentient beings elsewhere in the cosmos, Billingham joined with Barney Oliver - then director of research and development at the Hewlett Packard corporation - to organize a joint summer design study of the technology and science of SETI. Two dozen academics spent three months considering what sort of equipment was needed to make a serious, systematic search for signals, and where they should point the antennas. Their conclusions, published as "Project Cyclops," became the bible of SETI research for decades to come, and are still important today."
"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has named planetary geologist Ellen Stofan the agency's chief scientist, effective Aug. 25.
The appointment marks Stofan's return to NASA. From 1991 through 2000, she held a number of senior scientist positions at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., including chief scientist for NASA's New Millennium Program, deputy project scientist for the Magellan Mission to Venus, and experiment scientist for SIR-C, an instrument that provided radar images of Earth on two shuttle flights in 1994."
NASA CFO Robinson Headed To Department of Energy, Space News
"NASA Chief Financial Officer Beth Robinson will be nominated by President Barack Obama to be the U.S. Department of Energy's undersecretary, the White House said July 18. If confirmed by the Senate, Robinson will become Energy's third-in-command."
Obiturary, Washington Post
"Dr. Milton Antone Silveira, former Chief Engineer of NASA passed away July 11, 2013, at his residence in McLean, Virginia. He worked on all USA manned spacecraft programs in pursuit of putting a man on the moon: Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. He was the Program Manager of Little Joe II in support of the Apollo Program and supported the Skylab Program. Later he was Manager of the Space Shuttle Engineering Office and then Deputy Manager of the Orbiter Project Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He left JSC to go to NASA Headquarters becoming the Assistant to the NASA Deputy Director and later NASA Chief Engineer."
"Joan A. "Jody" Singer, a native of Hartselle, Ala., has been named manager of the Flight Programs and Partnerships Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
In her new position, Singer is responsible for overall management and direction of the office, including an annual budget of $108 million and a combined workforce of more than 500 civil servants and contractors. She oversees the work of the Marshall Center in the areas of human exploration projects and tasks; flight mission programs and projects; and International Space Station hardware integration and operations. The office also is tasked with creating and maintaining value-added partnerships with other government agencies and international and commercial partners that will help achieve NASA's vision. "
NASA taps long-time employee to be new CIO, Federal News Radio
"NASA tapped a long-time employee from the field to become its new chief information officer. Government sources confirmed that Larry Sweet is moving to NASA headquarters from the Johnson Space Center.
Sweet replaces Linda Cureton, who retired in April. Richard Keegan, the associate deputy administrator, has been the acting CIO since Cureton retired.
"I think it's absolutely wonderful. Larry is a strategist and understands the culture of the agency as a center CIO," said Cureton, who now is president of Muse Technologies. "He will likely focus on increasing collaboration among the centers. In addition, he will be tough on instilling accountability and performance excellence in the contractor community. Enterprise services will be his high priority."
"The all-out assault on National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is threatening vital on-the-job protections for millions of California workers.
The NLRB is the sole agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law and protecting the rights of 80 million private sector employees nationwide. It's been under attack by both conservative courts and House Republicans seeking to freeze all agency actions. Now, unless the Senate majority acts to confirm all five nominations to the NLRB before the August recess, the right to organize and bargain, the right to labor law protections, and the right to free speech in the workplace will all be in jeopardy."
Quote and audio from the call on the next page.
Former NASA Manager John Olson, currently on assignment at the Office of Science and Technology Policy as Assistant Director for Space and Aeronautics, will be joining SNC starting 1 July. Olson's last day at OSTP will be tomorrow, 7 June. Olson's last day at NASA will be on 1 July. After that Olson will be taking on an executive leadership role in the Space Systems Group at Sierra Nevada Corporation in Louisville, Colorado and Arlington, Virginia.
Keith's note: According to a NASA Watch Reader: "Henry Hoffman passed away last night at 11:30 PM. Henry was a world-famous Attitude Control expert and was portrayed in the Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine as "Satellite Saviour." Henry Hoffman has more than six decades of guidance and control systems experience. He began his career in the early 1940's as an Electrical Technician for the US Navy where he supported Navy missile and airborne electronics development. He joined Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in 1962 as the Head of the Guidance and Control Branch."
Walter Murphy: "Walter was an Engineering Manager with NASA from 1963 to his retirement in 1997. His career started at Johnson Space Center, extending to Kennedy Space Center with 2 years at Vandenberg Air Force Base. He came to KSC in 1973 to take part in the development of the Launch Processing System."
Keith's note: NASA Watch readers have reported that Caldwell Johnson died on 27 May.
Caldwell Johnson, NNDB: "Caldwell Johnson grew up within walking distance of Langley Field, then a landing strip for exotic and experimental aircraft, operated by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. He often loitered at the facility, and after showing some staff members his elaborately constructed model aircraft, he was hired straight out of high school by NACA's Robert R. Gilruth."
"National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge William G. Kocol has found the California Institute of Technology engaged in unfair labor practices at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Caltech administers JPL under contract with NASA. In 2011, Caltech issued letters of highest level disciplinary reprimand to five JPL employees because they used JPL's internal email system to discuss the implications of a recent Supreme Court ruling on the working conditions at JPL. The five employees had been plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case."
Full NLRB decision (worth reading by all NASA employees)
"I reject JPL's contention that it had no choice but to comply with NASA's directives. I start by pointing out that HSPD 12 was not specific as to how the Government was to implement the directive. Other departments in the Government, according to the employees, implemented it a manner less invasive of the privacy of their employees. And the NASA badging requirements morphed and evolved, apparently in response to the concerns voiced by 30 the employees. Finally, there is no evidence that JPL itself could not have sought to influence NASA to address some of the concerns of its employees. NASA and JPL chose the manner in which they implemented HSPD 12 and some employees concertedly complained and sought to change it. The employees have a Section 7 right to do so."
"By issuing written warnings to Robert Nelson, Dennis Byrnes, Scott Maxwell, Larry D'Addario, and William Bruce Banerdt because they engaged in protected, concerted activities, the Respondent has engaged in unfair labor practices affecting commerce within the meaning of Section 8(a)(1) and Section 2(6) and (7) of the Act. Having found that the Respondent has engaged in certain unfair labor practices, I shall order it to cease and desist therefrom and to take certain affirmative action designed to effectuate the policies of the Act."
Keith's note: Of course NASA and JPL will appeal this decision. It would be interesting to see how much they will pay the lawyers (and who pays for those lawyers) who seek to oppose the rights of employees.
Is NASA about jobs, or actually accomplishing something?, Houston Chronicle
"The diversity of these centers, including sites in populous states like Texas, California, Florida and Ohio, ensures political clout for the agency in both houses of Congress. At the same time, NASA has to continually spread work around all of these centers and keep senators and representatives from the homes of each of the 10 happy. Which is to say, first and foremost, saving jobs."
"... All that costs money, and Bolden says NASA's $16.8 billion budget request gets chopped to just $16.1 billion if the seqester is not rectified. "At the $16.1 billion level, there is no way in the world they can continue to operate a center like JSC at the level of employment that we have right now," Bolden said. Bolden laments this would mean cutbacks at all NASA centers, primarily contractors. But furloughs for civil servants, he confides, could also become necessary."
"The IG conducted an independent investigation into the circumstances of how and why the noose was placed at the Bldg. F-5 construction site. The IG's findings corroborated the results of the previous investigations conducted separately by the Office of Protective Services and the contractor. While the incident itself remains disturbing, it's important to note that none of the three investigations found evidence of criminal wrongdoing."
Reader note: "Today JSC started their new "9/80 flex Friday" work plan. They basically work 80 hours in 9 days, then take off every other Friday, BUT, completely out of sync with all the other NASA Centers that already had flex Fridays happening on the opposite Fridays. As a result, some folks at all Centers will have to continue to work on their scheduled flex Fridays. A little coordination on this between CD's would have made sense ..."
"In addition, as I have previously stated, at this time, we do not plan to resort to furloughs for NASA employees to meet our spending reductions under sequestration, and there is currently no change to the Agency's existing hiring policy. Centers may continue to transact hires in all categories as planned in their submitted phased hiring plans up to their FY 2013 FTE ceilings. However, the Congress is currently considering NASA's full-year appropriations levels; and, as the legislative process concludes, we will assess the impact of the new funding levels and whether revisions to our current posture are warranted."
Keith's 22 April note: Furloughs loom across the Federal government. While other agencies openly talk about their furlough plans, NASA is not saying anything. Why is that? It has been a month since Charlie Bolden issued this memo and its mention of how NASA viewed furloughs. Nothing has been issued since then.
Keith's 25 April update: Bolden in a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee today: "If we do not come out of sequester for the 2014 budget then we will start to furlough people."
Judge: Chinese NASA contractor to be held till trial, Virginian Pilot
"Prosecutors argued that Jiang is a flight risk, saying he tried to leave the country abruptly after a Virginia congressman publicly identified him in connection with an investigation of NASA security procedures. Jiang worked for the National Institute of Aerospace, a Hampton-based NASA contractor. He was fired in January, two months after taking a NASA-owned laptop computer with him on a visit to China, an alleged violation of the space agency's security regulations. Jiang has admitted taking the laptop but says he had his supervisor's permission. Prosecutors acknowledged there is no evidence that Jiang possessed any sensitive, secret or classified material."
"Center Director Chris Scolese will discuss the findings of an investigation into a recent incident where a noose was discovered in a Bldg. F-5 dorm room during an All-Hands meeting for Wallops employees scheduled from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., Thursday, April 4, in the Bldg. E-100 auditorium. All Wallops employees are encouraged to attend."
"In a March 29 memo obtained by The Associated Press, Scolese told colleagues that a contractor employee fashioned a piece of rope into a noose and handed it to a co-worker who was in a bad mood. The noose was left behind and was found by a contractor with another company, who reported it. Scolese said the incident was intended as a joke, but was "deeply disturbing." He said the person who tied the noose has been denied access to NASA facilities pending results of the investigation."
Hangman's Noose Found at Wallops (Update), earlier post
"Next week, JSC will begin offering a second window for employees to apply for Voluntary Early Retirement Authority ("early-out"). We are opening another window due to the Center's FTE ceiling being reduced in FY13, 14 and 15. By offering this opportunity to those who have expressed interest in early-outs, we will be able to continue to balance the skills at the Center and ensure we have hiring capability."
Keith's note: I just learned that my long time friend Bob Phillips has died. Bob was one of the original crew members selected for the Spacelab mission which eventually became SLS-1. He was disqualified a few years after selection for medical reasons but continued to work on the mission. Indeed, if you look at the STS-40 mission patch you will see that the stars representing the crew members forms a "P" in his honor. I got to know Bob very well over the years via the ASGSB (now ASGSR) and worked closely with him on the Space Station Freedom Program where he served as Chief Scientist. Indeed, shortly before I decided to leave NASA I had been given permission to serve as his deputy. We wrote this paper together at one point. When you look at what happens on the ISS today, you can thank Bob for helping make that science happen at a time when science was not a priority.
A Scientist's Misguided Crusade, op ed, NY Times
"As a private citizen, Hansen, 71, has the same First Amendment rights as everyone else. He can publicly oppose the Keystone XL pipeline if he so chooses, just as he can be as politically active as he wants to be in the anti-Keystone movement, and even be arrested during protests, something he managed to do recently in front of the White House. But the blast e-mail didn't come from James Hansen, private citizen. It specifically identified Hansen as the head of the Goddard Institute, and went on to describe him as someone who "has drawn attention to the danger of passing climate tipping points, producing irreversible climate impacts that would yield a different planet from the one on which civilization developed."
"Keystone XL, if the public were to allow our well-oiled government to shepherd it into existence, would be the first step down the wrong road, perpetuating our addiction to dirty fossil fuels, moving to ever dirtier ones," warned Dr. James Hansen on Friday. Hansen directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and is adjunct professor of Earth Sciences at Columbia University's Earth Institute."
Jim Hansen Arrested For Yelling or Something (Again), earlier post
James Hansen Continues To Have Special Privileges, earlier post
Keith's note: Why is it that only Jim Hansen can overtly identify himself as a NASA Employee and say whatever he wants with regard to what he does during his day job (paid with NASA money) and yet other NASA employees cannot? Before the snarky comments ensue, let me say that I agree with 90+% or more of what he says. That's not the issue. I am just baffled as to why he gets a special pass by NASA.
"We have learned that NASA has severely restricted travel of NASA and JPL employees to the 2013 IEEE Aerospace conference. This is impacting many of the authors at this year's conference. I, on behalf of the conference board and the conference committee, want to extend our condolences to those who are affected by the restrictions, and provide the following guidance with regards to paper presentations."
Reader note: "Of course sunk costs like registration ($1000), lodging, and many flights are long past the opportunity to be refunded, so we're not actually saving much money and causing a lot of trouble for employees, some of whom have personal expenses that will not be reimbursed."
"While at NASA, he acted as a Project Manager for the Surveyor Program (seven unmanned moon landing spacecrafts). Mr. Dwornik co-authored several books including Atlas of Mercury. One of his fond memories was providing the first substantial NASA grant monies to a young astronomer named Carl Sagan. After Mr. Dwornik's retirement from NASA, he enjoyed a second career with Ball Aerospace, including volunteer work helping to create a planetary Braille map and being a speaker for ElderHostel courses."
NASA CIO Linda Cureton is retiring from government, FCW has learned. Cureton, a 2011 Federal 100 winner, has held her current position since September 2009. Cureton had alluded to her plans at the Oct. 24 GCN awards gala, where she was recognized as the Civilian IT Executive of the Year. At the time, however, she and her aides said that no firm decision had been made. "It had always been in my plan to either retire or change jobs... after the election," Cureton told FCW when reached for comment. "Having been through transitions at the political level before, the timing to leave seemed appealing to me."
Denney J. Keys, NASA engineer, Washington Post
"Denney J. Keys, 54, who had been a senior technical fellow for power systems engineering at NASA, died of cancer Dec. 30 at his home in Mitchellville."
Denney J. Keys (guestbook)
"Mr. Keys joined NASA in 1990 as lead Power System Manager for the Space Station Freedom Program Office and was responsible for overseeing the Agency space station electrical power system development effort."
Keith's note: Internal NASA memo: "Jesco passed away today at ~11am. He died at home. He had flu like symptoms for the last week. He is survived by his wife Ursula. This was unexpected and a shock to everyone. Ursula is still making plans and will likely want a simple remembrance. Sam will coordinate and we will keep you informed of plans. Jesco was a tremendous representative of NASA. Jesco will be missed. His passing is a reminder to all of us that each day is precious."
Jesco von Puttkamer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"After World War II, during which his family lived in Switzerland, von Puttkamer studied mechanical engineering at Konstanz and the Technische Hochschule (RWTH Aachen) in Aachen, graduating with a university degree. In 1962 he left Germany for the United States, where he joined Wernher von Braun's rocket team at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama as an engineer during the Apollo Program."
Keith's note: It will be some time before the daily ISS Onorbit Status reports appear again. You see, Jesco did these reports every single day for more than a decade. The only time I can recall where there was a hiatus was last year when he was on vacation in Europe and his laptop died. There is an interesting story behind the origin of these reports - it has to do with some things Jim Oberg and I posted and wrote about a long time ago during the problems on Mir and how Congress reacted ... Jesco was an unusual link between the Apollo era and today. I am certain that a number of people will post here and elsewhere about his unusually long connection with space exploration - a legacy that many people might not be totally aware of - or totally appreciate. Also, FWIW, he took 30 minutes out of his schedule to talk with a certain young Biology major in late 1975 ...
Ad astra, Jesco.
Marc's note: Video from NASA on the next page.
"Gale Allen, associate chief scientist for Life and Microgravity Sciences, will serve as acting NASA chief scientist until a successor is named. Allen joined the Office of the Chief Scientist in 2011 from the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) at Headquarters, where she was director of Strategic Integration and Management. Before joining ESMD, Allen was deputy for Bioastronautics in the Office of Biological and Physical Research."
"NASA was named the best place to work in the federal government among large agencies in a survey released today by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization. This ranking, which reflects NASA's highest results since this index was developed, makes clear that the agency's work force is focused on carrying out the nation's new and ambitious space program. The rankings are based on responses from nearly 700,000 federal workers."
Keith's 15 Nov 4:00 pm EST note: NASA will announce soon that Glenn Research Center Director Ray Lugo and Johnson Space Center Director Mike Coats are leaving their respective positions. All-hands meetings have reportedly been scheduled for tomorrow (Friday) at JSC and GRC. As was reported on NASAWatch in August, these departures, which will be described as "retirement", are part of a larger attempt by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden to rearrange field center management at NASA. Bolden is still attempting to replace several other NASA field center directors including Ames Research Center Director Pete Worden - despite repeated pressure on Bolden from the White House and Congress not to do so.
Bolden Seeks To Replace Multiple Center Directors, earlier post
"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced leadership changes Friday for the agency's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and Johnson Space Center in Houston. James Free will succeed Ramon (Ray) Lugo as Glenn's center director when Lugo retires in January. Free has served as Glenn's deputy director since January 2011. Ellen Ochoa will succeed Michael Coats as Johnson's center director when Coats retires at the end of the year. Ochoa has served as Johnson's deputy director since September 2007."
NASA Glenn director Ray Lugo to retire in January, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"In an interview with The Plain Dealer in August in response to those rumors, Lugo said he had gotten personal assurance from Bolden "that he is not planning to replace me or move me. To the best of my knowledge - and I've talked to the boss - there's no truth to the rumor."
Keith's update: This recent Glenn Research Center reorganization attempt by Ray Lugo was in direct defiance of orders given out by Charlie Bolden to all NASA center directors to not shake things up prior to the election. You see, Ohio is a crucial state in terms of this election - and Lugo's actions have caused a bit of a stir. As a result Ray Lugo's days as GRC Center Director are numbered as far as Bolden is concerned. Bolden has shut this re-org down. Of course, there will be official denials - but that's what is going on behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Bolden has already been admonished by the White House not to shake things up either after his attempt to replace a bunch of center directors. Stay tuned.
Reader comment: "when Mr. Lugo presented the chart to the employees of Glenn Research Center he predicted that some employee would release this to NASA Watch, even though it was made clear that the chart is "pre-decisional", where is the integrity in that."
Keith's update: It still amazes me that a decade into the 21st century that some parts of NASA are stuck in the 19th century.
Bolden Seeks To Replace Multiple Center Directors, earlier post
"United Space Alliance says they are laying off over 150 employees across the country -- the majority being here along the Space Coast. USA said 121 of its workers in Brevard County will be laid off. The reduction represents about six percent of their total workforce. Following the layoff, USA will have a total 2,263 employees -- with 1,073 of those in Florida, 1,186 in Texas and 4 in other states. The layoff is due to a reduction in work scope as the Shuttle Transition and Retirement work approaches completion."
Keith's note: NASA has announced that Patrick Scheuermann will be the new Center director at MSFC. Current SSC Deputy Director Richard Gilbrech has been appointed as the new SSC director. Former MSFC Center Director Robert Lightfoot is now officially NASA Associate Administrator.
Bolden Seeks To Replace Multiple Center Directors, earlier post
Jaylee Mead dies: NASA astronomer was a cultural benefactor in D.C., Washington Post
"Jaylee Mead and her husband, Gilbert, came, in some ways, from different universes. Gilbert was an heir to the riches of Consolidated Papers in Wisconsin -- one of the largest papermakers in North America -- while Jaylee was the daughter of a general store owner in rural North Carolina. They worked together for years at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, he as a geophysicist and she as an astronomer, one of the few women of her generation to pursue a career in astrophysics."
President of South Dakota School of Mines dies, PRapid City Journal
"Wharton served as executive officer for the National Science Foundation's office of polar programs, participating in 11 expeditions to the Antarctic. He also was a visiting senior scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C."
Keith's note: I am profoundly saddened to hear of Bob's passing. I got to know Bob very well when he and I worked at the old Life Sciences Division at NASA Headquarters in the 1980s. Bob was an astrobiologist before the word had even been coined. He was an adventurer and a jack of all trades. Among other things, he spent a lot of time diving under Antarctic ice with Chris McKay and Dale Andersen and roaming the Antarctic dry valleys. He was also an avid climber and mountaineer. Bob and I went rock climbing several times. One trip in particular, to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, on a day not unlike today, is etched into my mind. I can clearly recall asking him on that trip if he thought there was life on Mars. He paused for a moment and said "I ... think so". I can only hope that somewhere on Curiosity's travels across Gale crater on Mars, that something of prominence is named after Bob Wharton.
Keith's 22 Aug note: Multiple sources report that NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden is planning to fire/reassign Ames Center Director Pete Worden and two other center directors as well.
Keith's 22 Aug update: Sources report that Bolden has also discussed replacing both GRC (Ray Lugo) and JSC (Mike Coats) center directors even though neither have done anything to warrant replacement. Reassigning Woodrow Whitlow from NASA HQ has also been discussed. However, Bolden's real focus is on going after Pete Worden - and these other replacements and/or chess moves are being discussed as window dressing to obscure that focus.
This is a good time to try and pull something like this off: the long Labor Day weekend is approaching, most of Congress is out of town and/or distracted by the upcoming conventions, the presidential election, and, in many cases, their own re-elections.
Cleveland's NASA Glenn chief has no departure plans, despite blog report, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"But Lugo told The Plain Dealer Wednesday night that he had spoken to Bolden earlier in the day, and that the NASA administrator "confirmed to me that he is not planning to replace me or move me. To the best of my knowledge - and I've talked to the boss - there's no truth to the rumor." ... In light of that, "Charlie and I, and most of the rest of the center directors, had a discussion about what people's plans are for the near-term future, the next six to seven months," Lugo said. Bolden "was just asking everybody what are their plans."
Rumor: NASA chief Bolden considering replacing JSC director, Houston Chronicle
"The following statement comes from spokesman Mike Cabbage at NASA's headquarters in Washington, D.C.: "We have a great management team at NASA, doing amazing things every day to keep the United States the world leader in space exploration. We've just landed the most sophisticated rover ever on Mars and we're launching a space weather mission on Friday. Right now, we're just focused on building on this record of success."
Keith's 23 Aug update: NASAWatch stands by its postings. Personnel plans often change quickly - especially when they are made public. As such, sources now report that Mr. Bolden has been directed not to make any of these senior personnel actions.
"Today, most of Florida's former shuttle workers have found work, according to a recent survey conducted by Brevard Workforce, which receives state and federal funding to help these highly skilled workers find jobs. Of the 5,690 former shuttle workers who responded to the survey, 57% said they are working, while the remaining 43% are either retired or unemployed. Of the 3,234 who said they have found employment, most of them, 72%, say they are working in Florida. Florida authorities say they've made steps toward transforming the Space Coast into more than just a launch site for shuttles. That, according to the state's Space Coast Economic Development Commission, has helped "put a serious dent" in Brevard County's unemployment rate, which is 9%."
United Space Alliance To Layoff 148 In September, Brevard Times
"NASA Space Shuttle Program contractor United Space Alliance has announced that it will layoff 148 employee on September 28, 2012, according to recent documents filed with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity."
"Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism - and literally changed the face of America's space program," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers and explorers. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sally's family and the many she inspired. She will be missed, but her star will always shine brightly."
Statement by the President on the Passing of Sally Ride
"She inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars and later fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math in our schools. Sally's life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve and I have no doubt that her legacy will endure for years to come. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sally's family and friends."
"We are deeply saddened to hear of Sally Ride's passing. Her passion brought STEM education to the forefront and for that we will be forever grateful. She will continue to be a great source of inspiration for students around the globe. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones." - Dr. Scott Parazynski, MD, chairman of Challenger Center for Space Science Education
"The Conrad Foundation and our students and partners are saddened to hear of Sally Ride's untimely death. Sally was a great physicist, astronaut, educator and American hero. She dedicated her life to bringing the world of science to girls with her Sally Ride Science Academy and Camps. She was a wonderful role model for young women and girls and will be sadly missed. We salute her contribution to our nation and to our future."
Keith's note: Astronaut Sally Ride died hours before Aviator Amelia Earhart's 115th birthday. Ah history - you make such poignant connections.
Keith's note: Former Kennedy Space Center Director Forrest McCartney died yesterday after a short battle with cancer.
"McCartney served as director of Kennedy under detail from the U. S. Air Force beginning Oct. 1, 1986. He came to NASA from the position of commander, Air Force Space Division and concluded a distinguished 35-year military career on Aug. 31, 1987, with a retirement ceremony at the office of the Secretary of the Air Force in the Pentagon."
Bio at Wikipedia
"Dear Friends and Colleagues, It's been an incredible honor to work with and for you over the past 28 years on space station utilization planning, engineering development and operations. Despite what some thought to be insurmountable obstacles, the global team prevailed to deliver one of the greatest engineering achievements and most capable laboratory complexes in history. It's an icon for the power of relentless pursuit and exemplary of what great nations can do through peaceful cooperation."
Keith's note: I have known Mark for more than 20 years. Indeed, I used to work for him. While I have been critical of Mark and various aspects of space station utilization recently (because I think NASA can and should do better), I have to say that there were dark times when most of NASA really did not care if the space station was ever used - or was useful. During those long periods when budgets, assembly, and ops drove everything, Mark was one of the few who managed to keep the utilization spark alive within NASA. It will be interesting to see what he does with a fusion reactor at his disposal in his new position. Mark attached an interesting paper on space research-related patents with this departure message. I'm certain that it would not occur to CASIS that it would be useful to post it on their site.
"Drastic cuts to NASA's budget are threatening pay and benefits for Kennedy Space Center's fire and rescue personnel, workers said Thursday, sparking a union protest outside the space center. "We are here today to send a very poignant message to both the company G4S and NASA to keep their hands off what the fireman have already earned," said Kevin Smith, president of Transport Workers Union Local 525."
"Robin Henderson, Marshall's associate director, will serve as acting center director following his departure."
"Aerojet announced today that on Aug. 6, 2012, Gene Goldman will join Aerojet to lead the company's Southeast Space Operations. Goldman has been the acting center director at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala. since March 2012, when Robert Lightfoot began his assignment as NASA acting administrator at NASA Headquarters."
"Arthur E. "Gene" Goldman, a native of Russell, Miss., recently was appointed acting director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala."
"NASA faces many challenges including re-shaping the NASA workforce to successfully meet changing mission requirements. In order to refocus the skill mix of our workforce to become more effectively aligned with current and anticipated funded work requirements, each Directorate has evaluated its workforce requirements and has identified eligible categories of positions that may be experiencing either a workforce surplus or that may be impacted by a possible reduction in work requirements and/or reduced funding in the immediate or near future. The eligible categories of positions are based entirely upon a combination of factors such as position competencies, position titles, geographic location, and/or grade levels. Goddard's Buyout/Early Out Incentive Plan has been approved."
@Astro_Box: Alan Poindexter "Dex" passed away today in a jet ski accident. He was a talented, courageous Navy veteran with gifts...
@Astro_Box: Dex was a lovable guy with a strong work ethic. He was selected to command a space shuttle on his 2nd flight: STS-131.
"Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials say 51-year-old Capt. Alan G. Poindexter was riding on a jet ski with his 22-year-old son Sunday afternoon when his 26-year-old son crashed into them with another jet ski."
"We in the astronaut family have lost not only a dear friend, but also a patriot of the United States," said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "He proudly served his country for 26 years as a fighter pilot, test pilot, astronaut and commander of a space shuttle. I am proud to have both flown in space and worked with him for so many years. Dex will be deeply missed by those of us at Johnson and the entire NASA family."
"NASA says its 10 field centers employ about 18,000 civil servants and four times as many contractors. These centers, some of which predate the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act that created NASA, house a variety of specialized scientific and engineering facilities, many of which are underutilized today. "I would be less than honest if I told you we need everything we have," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told the Committee to Review NASA's Strategic Direction June 27. "We don't."
NASA says there are no plans for human spaceflight cutbacks at Cleveland's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[NASA press secretary Lauren] Worley provided numbers showing that Glenn's workforce had declined by 214 positions between 2005 and 2009, the years during which Griffin served as NASA's administrator."
Mal Peterson: the value of fear in managing corporate-downsizing, 28 March 1996 (the posting that began NASAWatch - then known as "NASA RIF Watch")
"Mal Peterson (NASA HQ Comptroller's Office) personally briefed NASA program managers (Centers and HQ) yesterday (27 March) and gave instructions for planning and implementing a RIF by Summer 1997, the reduction to be completed by October 1998, to a total complement level of 17,500, as called for by the President for the year 2000, to be completed by 1998. Vugraphs were shown concerning "the value of fear in managing corporate-downsizing." (That is a direct quote)."
Former NRO Manager Pete Rustan Dies, Space News
"Pedro "Pete" Rustan, a former senior manager at the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and a fixture in space technology circles, died at his home in Woodbridge, Va., June 28 after a two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. He was 65."
Keith's note: John's Funeral Mass is scheduled for June 28th at 11:00 AM . It will be held at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church: 18825 Fuller Heights Road, Triangle, VA, 22172. Phone: 703-221-4044. It is located right off of Hwy. 95 South, Triangle exit. Crossing Rt. 1, get into the left lane immediately for the first left turn in front of Quantico Marine Base gates. The street runs parallel to the gates, and the church will be found on the left hand side of Fuller Heights Rd.
"His last assignment in the Marine Corps was as Head of America's Manned Space Flight program at NASA. He supervised 19 successful Space Shuttle missions including the first Hubble Space Telescope repair mission. His responsibilities included operations, safety, personnel, logistics and budgeting for all matters related to the manned space flight program. After retirement from the Marine Corps, General Pearson remained as the Head of Manned Space Flight for three years, and for his service in this assignment he was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal."
NASA Statement from Michael Obrien, Office of International and Interagency Relations Associate Administrator:
"The NASA community was saddened by the news of Dr. Michael Duncan's untimely and tragic death. Mike provided invaluable support in the space medicine field for NASA's space shuttle and International Space Station astronauts. He was one of the lead flight surgeons who supported the first landing by American astronauts in a Soyuz vehicle in Kazakhstan for Expedition 6 in May 2003. As the lead for the NASA team that provided assistance to the Chilean government's rescue of 33 trapped miners in a copper and gold mine near Copiapo, Chile, in 2010, Dr. Duncan exemplified NASA's commitment to bring spaceflight experience back down to the ground and utilize it for people here on Earth. Our condolences go out to his family at this difficult time."
Keith's note: Visitation will be held on Friday from 5 to 8 pm at the Gawler Funeral Home, 5130 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, Md. 202 966-6400. Services will be held at Gawler Funeral Home at 11 am on Saturday.
Two Dead In Fauquier County Plane Collision, Manassas Patch
Keith's note: The NASA CFO staff have circulated this update including information on Terry's memorial service: "As you may have heard, Terry Reese unexpected passed away last Friday. He had taken a day of annual leave to work around the house, had a massive heart attack while working outside and died immediately."
"NASA chief Charles Bolden is reviewing a request from a U.S. senator for a briefing on alleged misconduct at the agency's Ames Research Center (ARC) in California. The allegations appear to involve violations of U.S. laws meant to guard national secrets. In a letter obtained by ScienceInsider, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), the top Republican on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, today asked "to be briefed by knowledgeable NASA officials" on "serious allegations from whistleblowers."
"A former computer specialist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory was laid off because he was combative and didn't keep his skills sharp -- not because he advocated for his belief in intelligent design while at work, an attorney said Monday in a case that plays on the tensions over the origins-of-life concept. David Coppedge, who worked on NASA's Cassini mission exploring Saturn and its many moons, sued JPL for wrongful termination in a case that has generated intense interest among proponents of intelligent design -- the idea that life is too complex to have evolved through evolution alone."
"Porter started her government career as a Darpa program manager, before becoming the head of NASA's aeronautics division. Bringing that Darpa-esque spirit to the intelligence world wasn't always easy. Not long after Iarpa was cobbled together from research groups within the National Security Agency, the CIA, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Porter faced an exodus of talent. The old guard just wasn't used to the Darpa combination of far-off end goals with very measurable steps to those goals along the way. Nor did they appreciate her in-the-weeds approach to managing research projects. .... It's not clear what Porter's next step will be. But it's worth noting that the director of Darpa recently stepped down. Porter has repeatedly been mentioned as a potential successor."
Keith's note: I just learned that John Cox passed away last night after a lengthy illness. I got to know John very well when I worked for him at the Space Station Freedom Program Office in Reston (Level II). Those of you who also worked there will recall that it was a place where people often expressed their opinions with little restraint - and it got to be rather boisterous at times. In contrast, John always seemed to be one of the calmest people in the room.
John had quite an unusual background for someone who rose through the ranks at Mission Control (where he was known as "Granite Flight") - his doctorate was in biomedical engineering. As such, he always seemed to have a slightly different angle on things than the typical NASA manager - and he did not need a bunch of acronyms to express that view.
"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced Tuesday changes to his senior leadership team. Associate Administrator Chris Scolese was named director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Robert Lightfoot, director of the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will serve as acting associate administrator. Both will assume their new responsibilities on March 5."
"Lightfoot's deputy, Gene Goldman, will serve as Marshall's acting center director."
Keith's note: I was deeply saddened to learn that my friend Russ Bardos has died. Russ and I worked at the Space Station Freedom Program Office in Reston. Any of you who worked with our rag tag bunch in Reston will know that a special bond developed between all who endured those crazy years.
In the following years Russ and I often talked about how we could make things better. His last job was as a consultant to Aerojet. I will miss that gravely voice on the other end of the phone line (and often on my voice mail) and that big smile (you know which one) and steely hand grip when we'd meet in person. Ad astra, Russ.
@WomenPlanetSci - @whymommy - Susan Niebur, astrophysicist/mother has passed away from breast cancer. See: http://toddlerplanet.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/goodbye/
"Anthony J. Calio, 82, a physicist and former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who also had been a senior executive of NASA, died Jan. 14 at his home at Whidbey Island, Wash."
"Six months before the space shuttle Challenger exploded over Florida on Jan. 28, 1986, Roger Boisjoly wrote a portentous memo. He warned that if the weather was too cold, seals connecting sections of the shuttle's huge rocket boosters could fail. "The result could be a catastrophe of the highest order, loss of human life," he wrote. The shuttle exploded 73 seconds after launching, killing its seven crew members, including Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher from Concord, N.H."
"It is with mixed emotions that I announce my intention to leave NASA Goddard and return to industry. My last day as Director will be March 4. During my time here, it has been my privilege to play a small role in our awesome missions, remarkable science, complex engineering feats, and initiatives. Goddard continues to amaze me with the extraordinary accomplishments its people make every day."
"NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Director Robert Strain announced he will leave the agency on March 4, 2012, to take a position in private industry."
Keith's note: Mino Freund from NASA Ames has died after a lengthy battle with brain tumors. You can read about Mino's challenges on his blog "A Little Detour". Of all the things I could say about Mino, I guess the most important is that he was always fun to talk to and he was curious about absolutely everything. I really can't say that about everyone.
"As a Supervisory Public Affairs Specialist within the Office Of Communications, you will lead the development and implementation of a comprehensive communications program for the NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility (WFF). You will participate in the long and short-range strategic program planning and goal-setting for the Office of Communications at WFF. This includes communicating and engaging the public in the status, accomplishments and discoveries of the Agency's science, engineering and technology programs, and assessing, developing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders."
"NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin today released an audit examining NASA's controls over loans of moon rocks and other astromaterials to researchers, exhibitors, and educators. NASA's collection of astromaterials includes approximately 140,000 lunar samples, 18,000 meteorite samples, and about 5,000 solar wind, comet, and cosmic dust samples. These samples constitute a rare and limited resource and serve an important role for research and education. As of March 2011, NASA had more than 26,000 astromaterial samples on loan."
"In two cases, one researcher still had nine lunar samples he borrowed 35 years ago and another had 10 chunks of meteorites he kept for 14 years. Neither had ever worked on them. Another researcher had 36 moon samples and kept them for 16 years after he had finished his research."
- NASA IG Refuses To Comment on Official Abuse of Elderly Woman, earlier post
Keith's note: It should be abundantly clear by now that the NASA IG and General Counsel offices have no consistent policy whatsoever when it comes to selling historic Apollo era artifacts. In some cases you can sell pieces of the Moon, and in other cases you cannot. In some cases you can sell items used during Apollo missions, in other cases, you cannot. And of course, it is also acceptable practice to rough up little old ladies and threaten lawsuits against elderly former astronauts.
"Dear Colleagues: When I came to NASA for what was supposed to be a 3-month student internship, I had no idea NASA would become my life's work. I look back with great appreciation for all of the opportunities I have had. I have worked with many wonderful and dedicated people -- my NASA colleagues, partners in industry and academia, and international partners."
NASA Named One of Best Places To Work in Government
"NASA remains one of the best places to work in the federal government. In a survey released today by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization, the agency retains its ranking of number five. The rankings draw on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's Employee Viewpoint Survey of more than 150,000 executive branch employees. The evaluation helps job-seekers assess agencies and federal managers improve their workplaces."
NASA headquarters, four other centers turn to buyouts, Government Executive
"Several NASA locations are offering buyouts and early retirement packages to employees. According to NASA public affairs specialist Grey Hautaluoma, the agency's headquarters in Washington on Nov. 7 offered buyout packages worth up to $25,000 per employee. While 147 employees are eligible for the offer, only 50 packages will be available. Employees must apply by Nov. 18. Four other NASA centers have extended separate buyout offers. The Kennedy Space Center in Florida offered 150 buyouts through Nov. 7, targeting the budget and legal offices, information technology and general administrative personnel. To date, almost all the applications have been processed."
"John W. "Jack" Townsend, Jr., a space pioneer who was among the first employees of the newly formed Goddard Space Flight Center in 1959 and later served as its Center Director from 1987 to 1990, died October 29 of lung cancer. He was 87. Townsend was a rocket and satellite pioneer who was influential in creating the first meteorological, communications, and Earth viewing satellite systems."
"Ronald Greeley, a Regents' Professor of planetary geology at Arizona State University who has been involved in lunar and planetary studies since 1967 and has contributed significantly to our understanding of planetary bodies within our solar system, died Oct. 27, in Tempe. He was 72. Greeley, a pioneer in the planetary geology field, served as the director of the NASA-ASU Regional Planetary Image Facility and principal investigator of the Planetary Aeolian Laboratory at NASA-Ames Research Center."
Keith's note: Jack Forsythe has been removed from his position as Assistant Administrator for Protective Services at NASA HQ and has left the agency.
William H. Smyth passed away on Friday Sept. 30, 2011 after a long illness. Bill was a leader in planetary exospheres and conducted pioneering research on the exospheres of Io, Europa, Mercury, the moon, comets, and the Saturnian H cloud, especially in complex orbital environments. His expertise on Io's neutral clouds and the plasma torus were second to none. Go to: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bostonglobe/obituary.aspx?n =William-Smyth&pid=154005618 to sign a guest book for recording memories and condolences.)
"Andy worked at NASA from 1984-2006, serving as an optical engineer, EOS manager, Landsat 7 manager, assistant chief of the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics, and Director of the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA Headquarters. In 2006, Andy joined The Johns Hopkins University APL's Civilian Space Business Area to lead the Living with a Star Missions. Andy was also the first Program Manager for Solar Probe Plus, which will journey closer to the Sun than any probe has ever gone. Andy was promoted to Program Area Manager for Civilian Space in 2009, overseeing program management for projects such as the MESSENGER mission, now in orbit about Mercury and the New Horizons mission on its way to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt."
Former Florida shuttle workers still struggling to find jobs, Orlando Sentinel via Washington Post
"NASA officials predict the KSC workforce will number roughly 8,200 next year -- about half the 15,000 employed there in 2008. A few hundred contractors are giving the shuttles last rites before they, too, join their former colleagues in a brutal job market."
Kennedy Space Center to build new $300M HQ, Orlando Business Journal
"The project will "provide job potential through the design, engineering and construction to transition KSC from shuttles to new government and commercial vehicles," said Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast. "This complex keeps talent local and enhances our overall competitiveness on the global economic development stage."
"NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is looking to preserve an inventory of processing and manufacturing equipment for current and future mission support. This Request for Information (RFI) describes this equipment, currently underutilized as a result of the transition from the Space Shuttle Program to the future mission activities authorized by Congress. NASA KSC is seeking to identify potential industry interest in the operation and/or maintenance of this NASA property."
Keith's note: Several months ago Assistant Associate Administrator for the International Space Station Mark Uhran had been telling people that he was going to leave NASA on or around 1 October. Those plans have apparently changed. Former Deputy Associate Administrator for NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Laurie Leshin's departure led to a change in the new HEOMD management structure (due to the fusion of ESMD and SOMD) and Uhran is staying. Stay tuned.
"This is my last day at NASA and writing to you is one of my final acts here. In looking back on my career at NASA that began in September of 1973, I have many great memories of working on Space Shuttle, Space Station, and Exploration. The memories are also of many great people like you that I have had the opportunity to work with and the many wonderful friends I have made within this community."
Memorial: Bill Muehlberger, University of Teaxs Austin
"The Jackson School community mourns the loss of Bill Muehlberger and extend their condolences to his family. He died of natural causes on Wednesday, September 14. An emeritus professor in geology, he taught at the University of Texas at Austin for nearly 40 years before officially retiring in 1992. He also taught geology to multiple generations of NASA astronauts beginning with Apollo."
Keith's note: Former JSC PAO chief Ellen Engleman-Connors has a new Job - as the US Coast Guard's Deputy Director of Governmental and Public Affairs. According to this Washington Post article from 2005, she is perfect for the job: "She often joked to colleagues that she was determined to live the life of a spinster aboard her houseboat on the Potomac with her five cats -- each of which had its own life preserver." NASA Watch wishes her well. Formal USCG notice below.
Keith's Note: NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun will be leaving NASA soon. He has told his staff and others that he plans to depart. Braun fought hard to bring new technology into the way that NASA does things but was thwarted by the lack of a meaningful budget with which to accomplish this task. He worked very hard at his job - and at trying to make this transformation at NASA - and deserves a round of applause for trying.
NASA Chief Technologist Braun Returning to Georgia Tech, NASA Internal Memo
"Joseph Parrish, the deputy chief technologist, will serve as acting NASA chief technologist. Parrish joined the Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) in January from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., where he was responsible for technology assessment and mission architecture planning for future robotic missions to Mars."
"The past few years have been a challenging time for the Agency as we have dealt with major transition in the human spaceflight enterprise, budget uncertainty, a wide range of collaboration opportunities, new partners, reduction of our institutional footprint, and initiatives designed to help our talented workforce retool and reinvent itself for success in the 21st century. For NASA, I believe that these changes have just begun. While such change is difficult, I believe that the more desperately an organization tries to hold on to today, the more likely it is that this same organization will not have a tomorrow. Please remember that the future starts today."
"A major move at the Stennis Space Center is paving the way for jobs and expansion on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Officials said NASA and Stennis are officially taking over the 1.6 million square feet former Mississippi Army ammunition plant, which will become available for new government and commercial ventures that support the NASA mission. "Appropriate investment in the rocket testing infrastructure here at Stennis becomes more important than ever," Sen. Thad Cochran said."
Huntsville-based Teledyne Brown Engineering gets $383M defense contract, Huntsville Times
"After its announcement about plans for outer space with Aerojet, Teledyne Brown is branching out to "marine space." The Huntsville-based company has been awarded a contract valued at $383 million for a replacement craft to transport Special Operations Forces on their missions. The work is projected to add about 50 jobs here. The contract from the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is to design, develop, test, manufacture and sustain the Shallow Water Combat Submersible (SWCS)."
"Terrence W. Wilcutt has been appointed NASA's chief of safety and mission assurance, effective Sept. 1. Wilcutt is a retired Marine colonel and veteran astronaut who is serving as director of safety and mission assurance at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. He will assume the post from Bryan O'Connor, who will retire from the agency on Aug. 31. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the appointment Tuesday."
"Doug Cooke, who worked for nearly 38 years in NASA's space shuttle, International Space Station and exploration systems programs, will retire from the agency effective Oct. 3. Cooke most recently served as NASA's associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD), which is responsible for developing capabilities for sending humans deeper into space. Before retiring, Cooke will serve as deputy associate administrator for the agency's new Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate."
Latest round of NASA cutting threatens 600 jobs in Huntsville, Huntsville Times
"The latest round of NASA downsizing is threatening another 600 Huntsville jobs, officials said Thursday. How many will actually be laid off isn't clear, but is expected to be fewer than the number warned in accordance with federal law. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, said Friday that NASA leaders told Alabama lawmakers three weeks ago that upcoming layoffs would be in the 200-400 range. "Anything inconsistent with that, that's disappointing," Brooks said."
"More than 1,000 workers at companies that worked on the space shuttle program will leave their jobs for good in August. While at least one major space shuttle contractor is laying off more employees than it projected in the lead up to last month's final space shuttle mission, at least two -- Houston-based United Space Alliance (USA) and Chicago-based Boeing -- will issue fewer pink slips in August than initially predicted."
Nearly 300 more aerospace jobs threatened in Huntsville, Huntsville Times
"Nearly 300 more aerospace jobs are threatened in Huntsville as Marshall Space Flight Center moves to what its director calls "a smaller, leaner center." Jacobs Technology ESTS group notified 281 workers in writing last week that their jobs could end on or before Oct. 1, the beginning of the federal government's new 2012 fiscal year. Jacobs has been Marshall's primary support contractor for engineering, science and technical services since 1989."
"Based on the overwhelming success of and participation with the NASA@Work pilot program, NASA is pleased to announce the official agencywide re-launch of the NASA@Work collaborative program. NASA@Work is an internal collaboration platform that connects the collective knowledge of individual experts from all areas within the NASA organization via a private web-based environment supported by InnoCentive. The platform provides a venue for Challenge Owners, those looking for solutions or new ideas, to pose challenges to internal Solvers, those within NASA with the skill and desire to create enlightened solutions. The Solvers who deliver the best innovative ideas can win awards and will be recognized for their contributions at the 2012 NASA Project Management (PM) Challenge."
"As you know, Congress is debating how it plans to meet its obligations and raise the debt ceiling so that the country can pay its bills. The President expects that Congress will do its job, enact an increase of the debt ceiling that he can sign into law, and end this impasse. I am sending this note to remind you that NASA employees should plan to come to work next week, as scheduled, at their normal place and time."
"It is with great sadness that I note the passing of Dr. John H. Marburger, III, former Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Science Advisor to President George W. Bush. Jack Marburger leaves a legacy of exceptional public service and substantial scientific contributions. He was the Nation's longest-serving Presidential Science Advisor, and his focus on basic research as a driver of economic growth was a common thread across Congresses and Administrations."
Keith's note: Word has it that Jon Morse, Astrophysics Division Director at SMD also announced his resignation today. FYI John Morse is married to Laurie Leshin so a joint departure/move by both of them sort of makes sense.
"Jon Morse, director of the Science Mission Directorate's Astrophysics Division and Laurie's husband, also will be leaving government to join RPI as the associate vice president for research."
"I told my staff this morning that I plan to retire effective 31 August. From June, 2002, when Sean O'Keefe asked me to return to NASA for a third time to serve in this position, until this very day, I have been privileged to work on important projects with and among the best people in the world. Over time you have celebrated great successes and suffered and learned from horrific failures with determination, skill and a world beating attitude, and by so doing have kept me in a continuous state of awe."
"The bill includes a provision that repeals existing prohibitions on the implementation of Reductions in Force or other involuntary separations."
Retirement from United States Navy and NASA, Mark Kelly
"After some time off, I will look at new opportunities and am hopeful that one day I will again serve our country."
"Astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), announced Tuesday he would retire Oct. 1.Kelly, a captain in both NASA and the Navy, has been mentioned as a possible Senate candidate in Arizona next year. Media reports throughout the state have said Kelly would be the leading choice for Democrats if Giffords is unable to run for retiring Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) seat. The space shuttle commander has said nothing to spark this talk, but his retirement announcement will likely increase the speculation."
Astronaut Mark Kelly; Arizona's next senator?, Washington Post
"Senator Mark Kelly? That's the question in political circles this week. The minute Kelly, 47, announced his retirement from the Navy and NASA Tuesday, the behind-the-scenes speculation that's been brewing for weeks went public: Will the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords run for office himself?"
Boeing lays off 260 shuttle workers in Houston, Houston Chronicle
"Boeing today sent layoff notices to 510 employees - including 260 in Houston - involved in space shuttle work. The notices give 60 days advance notice of an expected job elimination. The workers' last day would be Aug. 5, pending the completion of the final space shuttle mission, STS-135. Boeing said in a statement that is working to keep as many workers as possible by moving employees to program such as the International Space Station work."
Boeing plans to lay off 150, Florida Today
"The Boeing Co. will lay off 150 of its 515 remaining Kennedy Space Center workers on Aug. 5. The layoffs would come later if the final shuttle launch, scheduled for July 8, is delayed. Nationwide, 510 Boeing employees were issued layoff notices Friday, including 260 employees in Houston and 100 in Huntington Beach, Calif." What goes up, also comes down: Space Shuttle jobs ending, Washington Post
"[John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management] said OPM will sponsor a job fair in Cocoa, Fla. in late July, which will include training on seeking positions listed on USAJOBS.gov. Also, NASA has created a Web site, www.jobsforaerospaceworkers.com, where federal agencies can post jobs and "find additional information about the skills of the available workforce."
Lee Scherer, KSC's 2nd leader, dies at 91, Florida Today
"Lee Scherer, who led Kennedy Space Center through its last major transition between human spaceflight programs, will be remembered in a service later this month near his home in San Diego, Calif. Scherer, KSC's second center director from 1975 to 1979, died May 7 at age 91. ... Joining NASA in 1962 on loan from the Navy, Scherer managed a program that launched five lunar orbiters mapping Apollo landing sites."
Keith's note: We were beyond thrilled to have Lee Scherer visit our Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) operation at NASA Ames in November 2008 as we released the newly retrieved and restored "Earthrise" image taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 in 1966. As he walked into Building 596 (aka "McMoons" - it used to be a McDonalds) Lee was clearly stunned to see that we had found all of this old stuff and got it working again. We all had a tear in our eyes - it was like being in a Star Trek episode where something comes back from the past to a future where it simply should not exist.
At one point Lee told a story about some kids in his neighborhood who asked about an old picture he had hanging in his garage. Of course, it was the famous Earthrise image. You can imagine his reaction to seeing it presented in all its glory in a way not possible (technically) in 1966 - but in a way that now truly matched what one's mind's eye saw when this image first went viral in 1966. More than a generation later this image inspired the mission patch
for STS-130 - the shuttle flight that carried a piece of the summit of Mt. Everest and four small Apollo 11 moon rocks that had been to the summit up to the International Space Station. The past meets the future once again.
Ad astra Lee.
Photos of Lee's visit to McMoons and LOIRP here.
Keith's note: I just learned with great sadness of the passing of Bob Clark aka "Dr. Bob". Bob was the guy who hired me to work at NASA as a civil servant on the Space Station Freedom Program in 1990. Bob was my first introduction to "old NASA". He cut his teeth in the Apollo and Skylab days when you needed good design and operations since there was no software to fix those things when your butt was on the line. I have to say that probably learned more from him than any other person I worked for at NASA.
He let me know when I screwed up and defended me like a mother wolverine when I was right. He taught me the rules and how to break them - and the value of learning to work with friends - and co-opt one's enemies - as a team. For that I am forever indebted.
I'll never forget the time he stood guard outside several offices with closed doors as a co-worker and I installed a pirate Mac Appletalk network above the ceilings of the offices of people who were in a staff meeting at the time. "Its easier to ask forgiveness than permission" Bob would often say.
The other day I gave Joe Rothenberg and Ed Lu a tour of the old Titan 1 ICBM we're fixing up at ARC. I mentioned Bob by name as I talked about the value of old elegant design and how it still had lessons to teach. I also gave Nancy Conrad a tour of the rocket that day. Bob worked on the Skylab repair with her late husband Pete. I had a similar chat with her. We're going to restore this old thing in away that will teach future generations. I guess Bob must have been sending me messages through that old rocket on that day.
Bob liked Farside cartoons, good BBQ and beer after a day of arguing in design reviews, and despite his sharp mind and wisdom he never managed to find a way to match his clip-on ties with the shirt and sans-a-belt slacks he was wearing. Bob had a collection of horrid ties that he stored on the blinds in his office. When he had to wear one as "boss" he'd just grab one at random - without looking - and clip it on.
My kind of boss.
Ad Astra Dr. Bob.
"Dick was chief engineer on the production of the first topographic maps of the moon. He was the first person to view every photograph from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz and the first 23 space shuttle missions. He also provided technical training to every astronaut who went into space in the twentieth century. During his NASA career he presented 1506 lectures to audiences all over the world. He loved to travel and visited every county in the U.S."
"The NASA contractor responsible for most of the work of maintaining the space shuttles announced Friday (April 15) that it will have to lay off almost 50 percent of its employees - up to 2,800 workers - after the shuttle program shuts down this year."
Shuttle prime contractor details major layoffs, SpaceflightNow
"Through earlier layoffs and attrition, USA's workforce in Florida, Texas and Alabama has dropped from around 10,500 in October 2009 to a current level of around 5,600. In late July or early August, the company will implement another major workforce reduction, affecting between 2,600 and 2,800 employees across the company. Of that total, 1,850 to 1,950 job losses are expected in Florida, 750 to 800 in Texas and 30 to 40 in Alabama."
"USA currently employs approximately 5,600 employees at its Florida, Texas and Alabama sites. The reduction in force will affect multiple disciplines and multiple organizations across the company. The reduction is expected to impact between 2600-2800 company-wide, including 1850-1950 employees in Florida, 750-800 employees in Texas, and 30-40 in Alabama."
"Pursuant to OMB Circular A-1 1, Section 124.2, NASA is hereby submitting a revised shutdown plan in the event of a lapse in appropriations, replacing the plan submitted to OMB on December 16, 1995. In this plan, NASA continues to require each NASA Center to provide protection of life and property. The decision on what personnel should be excepted from furlough is very fact specific, and Directors in charge of NASA Centers are in the best position to make detailed decisions regarding the suspension of ongoing, regular functions which could imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property."
"All but about 500 of NASA's 19,000 civil servants would be furloughed if the Congress and White House fail to reach a deal to keep the federal government operating beyond April 8. Among the employees who would not be allowed to work are those preparing the Space Shuttle Endeavour for its scheduled April 29 launch."
Keith's 8 April update: False alarm - for now.
"All NASA Headquarters employees, unless individually informed today, April 7, 2011, via an email message from Yvette Coles, Acting Director, Headquarters Human Resources Management Division, are designated as non-excepted. This means that, if funding lapses, you will be furloughed. Our contingency plan assumes that International Space Station activities will continue to protect the lives of the crew members on orbit and the safety and security of the space station. Existing satellite missions in operation also will continue to protect the satellites and the data being collected. In addition, all other activities involving protection of life and property will continue. All other agency activities not determined to be legally exempt will close, including all satellites in development. Our contingency planning for the potential funding lapse includes legal determination of which agency functions are excepted from a furlough. These determinations have been made."
"Center spokesman Dominic Amatore told The Huntsville Times on Wednesday that a combination of factors led to the layoffs. He cites the lack of a federal budget for this year, continued funding by stop-gap measures and cuts in this year's budget including nearly $300 million removed from the line-item that funds general operations at all of NASA's centers."
"A statement issued by Marshall today said that, "Due to budget constraints, Marshall Space Flight Center officials have conducted a comprehensive review of all institutional procurement and other expenditures and established funding priorities, ensuring that essential Center functions are maintained and that operational capabilities are in no way compromised."
Keith's note: I learned with profound sadness last night that Baruch Blumberg died suddenly yesterday. He was in a small meeting focused upon how to move humanity off this world onto others. His passing was swift - and true to form he was enthused and learning up until his last breath.
Barry was one of those people you only meet once in a lifetime. He was truly a transcendent person - as humble as he was accomplished. Barry was a true Renaissance man in every sense - one who I was deeply honored to call a friend. And he counted many, many people among his friends.
I spent more than one dinner with him, talking about biochemistry, cattle ranching, rock climbing in Wales when he was in his 60s - he even visited Devon Island at an age when most folks have given up travelling altogether.
Barry was a Nobel Laureate and was the first director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. NASA has never enticed anyone finer to join its ranks. Barry's choice for NAI went vastly beyond the norm - and Dan Goldin was the one who made that choice. Goldin entered into another realm of inspiration when he picked Barry to run NAI (Barry had a habit of doing that to people) and that decision will affect the course of Astrobiology for decades to come.
I managed to reach Dan Goldin on Barry's passing. He told me "The world has lost a great man. Barry saved lives through his research on the Hepatitis B virus. He also inspired a whole generation of people world wide through his work in building the NASA Astrobiology Institute. On a personal level, he improved my life through his friendship. Our planet is an improved place as a result of Barry's few short days in residence."
Sean O'Keefe told me this morning that Blumberg "impressed me as a man whose humility was only surpassed by his capacity to inspire a new generation of scientists to pursue the human passion to want to learn from everything around us. He truly was a remarkable man."
NASA is placing the work of another Nobel Laureate (AMS) on-orbit in a few weeks. Maybe something reminiscent of Barry Blumberg could be placed on it ... it would be fitting since Barry truly did know something about everything and yet still sought to learn more up until his last moments on this planet.
Ad Astra, Barry.
- Astrobiology at T+5 Years, Baruch S. Blumberg and Keith Cowing, Ad Astra Magazine
- Web of Stories - Baruch Blumberg - A field trip to Devon Island (video)
Kennedy Space Center probes illegal-drug find, Florida Today
"NASA is investigating the finding of apparent illegal drugs at Kennedy Space Center for the second time in a little more than a year. Preliminary field tests indicated that 4.2 grams of a white powdery substance found March 7 was cocaine, said Renee Juhans, a spokeswoman for NASA's Office of Inspector General, which is conducting the investigation. "The substance is now at an accredited crime lab for further testing," she said."
Cocaine found again at Kennedy Space Center, My Fox Orlando
"This is the second time in a year that drugs have been found at NASA. In January 2010 a plastic bag with cocaine residue was found near a restroom in the restricted hangar where the space shuttle Discovery was being prepared for a mission flight."
"NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory plans to lay off an estimated 200 to 250 employees before the end of March as the space agency deals with evolving federal budget constraints, a JPL official said Wednesday. President Obama's budget proposal calling for keeping NASA's budget flat at about $18.7 billion through fiscal year 2012 and beyond would mean delays in several projects now in the pipeline, while ongoing projects would be fully funded. "If we can make a small reduction in work force now we will have enough money to keep going for the remainder of the year," Richard O'Toole, executive manager of JPL's office of legislative affairs, said Wednesday."
NASA to stay put in Southwest D.C. building, Washington Business Journal
"The General Services Administration said Thursday it has signed a 597,253-square-foot lease for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at Piedmont Office Realty Trust Inc.'s 300 E St. SW, opting for the space agency to stay in place at its current headquarters."
NASA, OCC deals cause Southwest D.C. shuffle, Washington Business Journal
"Piedmont will renovate Two Independence Square in phases as part of the NASA deal, swinging some workers into two downtown buildings at 1201 and 1225 Eye St. NW."
"The past 7 years of my career have been focused on designing, developing, implementing, and stabilizing the NSSC, and I have never worked with a more talented, dedicated group of individuals than the NSSC team."
"...the OIG found that NASA's claim that creation of the NSSC would save the Agency $121 million over a 10-year period (fiscal years 2006 through 2015) was based on flawed data and is therefore inaccurate. Our analysis determined that cost data supplied by the Centers, which was essential in determining the baseline cost calculations and return-on-investment projections, were not reliable or verifiable."
Usa Informs Employees Of Layoff, Florida Today
"United Space Alliance by Friday will notify 548 Kennedy Space Center employees that they will be laid off on April 8. Some 697 USA employees companywide will be laid off, including 145 in Houston and four in Huntsville, Ala."
Court says NASA background checks can continue, Federal News Radio
"The Supreme Court says background checks of low-risk employees at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California can continue. The high court on Wednesday overturned a lower court decision that had stopped the space agency's investigations of the contract workers. The workers claimed NASA was invading their privacy by requiring the investigations, which included probes into medical records and questioning of friends about everything from their finances to their sex lives."
Ohio ex-NASA worker charged over military exports, Washington Post
"Authorities say Chun exported infrared focal-plane array detectors and infrared camera engines. They say Chun is a former employee at the NASA Glenn Research Center but is not accused of taking technology from the center."
"Chun is a longtime employee at the NASA Glenn Research Center, though he is not accused of taking technology or related materials from the research center."
Keith's 6 Jan note: Granville Paules has died. Details to follow. Official bio. According to one reader "Mr. Pauls was launch GUIDO for Apollo 11 and 13 among other significant flights, served as a GUIDO throughout the 13 crisis, and was YAW on the white team during Eagle's landing at Tranquillity."
Keith's update: A memorial services is scheduled at Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville, MD at 3:00 pm on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011
Keith's note: Word has it that the next round of layoffs at USA are coming on 7 January 2011. This will be a smaller personnel layoff than the subsequent 3 rounds of layoffs being planned in 2011. Employees have heard from management that there will probably be much larger layoffs in April, July, and September 2011. Upwards of 80% of the employees at JSC and KSC may well be gone by the time these layoffs conclude.
"The current system allows NASA to customize the information on the site. Through the customization, NASA has acquired data necessary to support an agengcy-wide longitudal health study. Therefore, NASA intends to continue the customized service from Mayo to maintain control of data necessary for study, and to retain the accumulated data gathered over the years. ... The requirement consist of an interactive health assessment web-based portal dedicated to NASA. The web-based portal requires: ... Rewards points incentive programs (and incentive tracking capabilities) designed to increase level of participation by NASA employees.
Keegan Named NASA's Associate Deputy Administrator
"NASA named Richard Keegan as the agency's associate deputy administrator on Thursday. He replaces Charles Scales, who has held the position since April 2007. Scales is retiring. The associate deputy administrator assists and supports NASA's administrator and deputy administrator during day-to-day agency operations, across the broad scope of institutional and workforce issues, and with contingency and continuity of operations planning."
It is with deep regret and sadness that I announce the unexpected passing of Dr. John Sigwarth, a senior scientist in the Heliophysics Division here at Goddard Space Flight Center. John died Monday of an aortic aneurysm. He was 49.
John joined Goddard in 2004 and was an incredibly respected and dedicated member of our community. He received his Ph.D. from The University of Iowa in December 1989 and was a world expert in the physics of the Aurora Borealis. John was the Project Scientist for the POLAR mission and was the Principal Investigator for one of the instruments on the recently launched Fastsat mission. Most recently, John was developing new advanced instrumentation to image the Earth's Thermosphere and leading one of the Center's Explorer proposals. John's spouse, Dr. Nicky Fox, is a Project Scientist for the Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and a close friend of many here at Goddard.
"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has named Waleed Abdalati the agency's chief scientist, effective Jan. 3. Abdalati will serve as the principal adviser to the NASA administrator on agency science programs, strategic planning and the evaluation of related investments. Abdalati will represent all of the scientific endeavors in the agency, ensuring they are aligned with and fulfill the administration's science objectives. He will advocate for NASA science in the context of those broader government science agendas and work closely with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget."
"A veteran of two spaceflights, Poindexter logged more than 669 hours in space. In 2008, he was the pilot on the STS-122 space shuttle mission to deliver and install the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station. In 2010, he was the commander for STS-131, a resupply mission to the station that delivered more than 13,000 pounds of hardware and equipment."
"Gregory D. Blaney has been named director of NASA's Independent Verification and Validation, or IV&V, Program in Fairmont. The IV&V program provides software verification and validation services, as well as software safety assurance support for the agency's most critical missions. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., oversees the West Virginia facility."
"... Carmody and Goglia are two NTSB members who faulted the leadership style of Ellen Engleman Conners, who was chairwoman of the board from 2003 to 2005, for the decline in investigations during the Bush administration. Engleman Conners required all board votes be unanimous, something that had never been common practice, they said. She also was very frugal, which former Democratic board members say was problematic to the conduct of investigations. "You couldn't buy anything without her signature," said John Goglia, Engleman Conners, who resigned in May 2006 after withdrawing her re-nomination as chairwoman in December 2005, now works for NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. She declined repeated requests for an interview."