"Michael M. Watkins, the Clare Cockrell Williams Centennial Chair in Aerospace Engineering and Director of the Center for Space Research at The University of Texas at Austin, has been appointed director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and vice president at Caltech, the Institute announced today. Watkins will formally assume his position on July 1, 2016. He succeeds Charles Elachi, who will retire as of June 30, 2016, and move to the Caltech faculty."
Recently in Personnel News Category
"Mr. Ryan worked as an aerospace engineer for the Army Ballistic Agency. He worked on Redstone, Jupiter, and Pershing missiles and then the Explorer, JUNO satellites and the Saturn I Launch system. In 1960 the Von Braun team was transferred to NASA, and he started working on the Apollo program where he served as chief of the Dynamic Analysis Branch for Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). He has served in various management and leadership positions for MSFC as Branch Chief, Division Chief of Structural Dynamics, and retired as Deputy Director of the System Dynamics Laboratory. He worked on Saturn V Apollo, Skylab, Hubble Space Telescope, HEAO, Space Shuttle, AXAF, X-33, Spacelab, and numerous scientific payloads."
"He was really excited about his life and the work he was doing," his mother, Patricia Tezzas, recalled of their phone conversation. "He was going to go camping next weekend." Bole got his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech before moving to California in 2011 for an internship with NASA, his family said. He was eventually hired as a contractor for NASA's Ames Research Center on the Peninsula, and within the last year started working at the Armus job. His family remembered him as an avid traveler, science fiction reader and biker."
"John Grunsfeld will retire from NASA April 30, capping nearly four decades of science and exploration with the agency. His tenure includes serving as astronaut, chief scientist, and head of NASA's Earth and space science activities. Grunsfeld has directed NASA's Science Mission Directorate as associate administrator since 2012, managing more than 100 science missions -- many of which have produced groundbreaking science, findings and discoveries."
Keith's note: Click here you will see a larger version of this image. In it John was "vulcanized" by Star Trek's Mike Okuda when John left his NASA Chief Scientist position. This photo somehow made its way to the National Air and Space Museum where a less-than-observant curator made it part of an exhibit of Hubble hardware returned after a servicing mission. Eventually NASM figured out that John was a Vulcan in this picture (but not in real life) and replaced it. But it took a while.
Keith's note: I was deeply saddened to learn that my long time friend Ken Souza died suddenly yesterday. Ken was probably the first NASA life scientist I got to know when I started with NASA in the mid-1980s. Ken worked on just about every imaginable type of life science mission one could imagine and just had so much information in his head. I wondered how he had managed to know so many things. Over the years, as a mentor and a friend, he would impart a lot of technical knowledge, advice - and always, humor. During times when NASA seemed to want to walk away from space biology he kept it alive at NASA Ames. Ken was relentless in terms of his energy and never seemed to rest - even after he had technically retired from NASA. In fact the retirement designation in 2002 after 35 years at NASA Ames research Center meant that he could just stay equally busy doing more of what he wanted to do without all of the management headaches. A lot of us in the space biology family are a bit numb right now. At the time of his death Ken was engaged in putting together a memorial for his long-time friend and colleague Thora Halstead who had passed away just a few days earlier. Last week I remarked that space botanist Mark Watney from "The Martian" owed his life to Thora Halstead's long legacy at the helm of NASA's space biology program. Let me amend that. Mark Watney owed his Mars farming smarts equally to Thora's program management and Ken's trail blazing hardware. Together they were the first to do so many things in space. Ad astra Ken.
"Bob Ebeling spent a third of his life consumed with guilt about the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. But at the end of his life, his family says, he was finally able to find peace. "It was as if he got permission from the world," says his daughter Leslie Ebeling Serna. "He was able to let that part of his life go." Ebeling died Monday at age 89 in Brigham City, Utah, after a long illness, according to his daughter Kathy Ebeling."
Keith's note: When I first came to Washington in 1986 I had the extreme pleasure of working with Thora at NASA Headquarters. Thora learned her craft from the very first people to send living things into space and I had the distinct honor of learning about those early days from her. She practically invented space biology. She was always fun to work with and had a soft spot when it came to young people. She was instrumental in the founding of ASGSB - now ASGSR - an organization which had the interests of students deeply embedded in its core mission. When budget cuts threatened many researchers she did her best to keep everyone's work alive and defended their interests like a mother wolverine.
She was quite a pioneer - as a scientist and as a woman working at NASA at a time when few women had a chance to run large programs. If anyone can be called a founder of space biology, it was Thora Halstead. Since the film "The Martian" strove for accuracy - and Mark Watney was a space botanist - then it follows that his thesis advisor's thesis advisor's thesis advisor owed something directly to Thora Halstead's commitment to advancing the careers of space biologists and students everywhere. Ad astra.
"Women Have Always Been NASA Pioneers", Dava Newman and Ellen Stofan
"... One of those pioneers, Dr. Thora Halstead, passed away last week. Thora was a mentor to many, and her work benefited thousands. She's been credited with helping to establish the field of space biology before there was such a discipline, and the mentors of many of today's scientists working in the field can credit Thora with direct mentorship or inspiration. Thora's numerous experiments and more than 40 published papers explored how the cells of living organisms respond to a low-gravity environment. As we move closer to Mars, we see that work in many ways, from the VEGGIE experiment that has produced the first lettuce crop in space, or research to show us how plants communicate within their systems in microgravity. Thora also founded the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology (ASGSB), a 500-plus member society with worldwide scientific community membership (now the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research). The legacy of exchange and collaboration that she began will continue to advance space biology for years to come."
"An engineer at NASA's Langley Research Center during the critical Apollo years and those that successfully landed Viking on Mars, John Foster Newcomb passed away March 10, 2016. In the early heady days of space exploration, Newcomb worked on the Lunar Orbiter Project which placed five Lunar Orbiters around the moon, a mission critical to the success of the Apollo Project. The Lunar Orbiters photographed and mapped the moon, giving researchers insight into the best potential landing sites for the crewed Apollo missions."
Keith's note: John Newcomb and I recently exchanged voicemails about his book but never managed to talk. I wanted to talk to him about his Lunar Orbiter experiences. He spoke at NASA HQ just last week - but NASA does not tell people about these events. Now he is gone. Dammit. I'm glad he was able to write this book and speak to people about it such that we know what it was like to do crazy things that no one has ever done before.
"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has named former astronaut Janet Kavandi director of the agency's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Kavandi has been serving as Glenn's deputy director since February 2015. She succeeds Jim Free, who was named deputy associate administrator for technical in the agency's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington. The appointments are effective Monday."
Association of Space Explorers: "We are very sad to pass along the news that former astronaut Don Williams has passed away. Fair skies and following seas, Cap'n."
"Born February 13, 1942, in Lafayette, Indiana. Died on February 23, 2016. He is survived by his wife and two children. He enjoyed all sports activities and his interests included running and photography."
"Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell died yesterday. Coincidentally, on 5 Feb. 1971, Mitchell, lunar module pilot for the Apollo 14 lunar landing mission, stands by the deployed U.S. flag on the lunar surface during the early moments of the first extravehicular activity of the mission."
Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, 85, dies in West Palm Beach , Palm Beach Post
"Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell, who was part of the Apollo 14 space crew that flew to the moon in 1971, died late Thursday in West Palm Beach, according to his family. Mitchell, 85, lived in suburban Lake Worth and died at a local hospice at about 10 p.m. Thursday, his daughter, former West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell told The Palm Beach Post."
"He believed in exploration, having been drawn to NASA by President Kennedy's call to send humans to the moon. He is one of the pioneers in space exploration on whose shoulders we now stand."
"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has named Todd May director of the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. May was appointed Marshall deputy director in August 2015 and has been serving as acting director since the Nov. 13, 2015 retirement of Patrick Scheuermann. As director, May will lead one of NASA's largest field installations, with almost 6,000 civil service and contractor employees, an annual budget of approximately $2.5 billion and a broad spectrum of human spaceflight, science and technology development missions."
RD Promotion Process Survey (Jan 2016), LaRC Survey at Surveymonkey
"The RD Promotion Process Team is evaluating the efficiency and transparency of the promotion process for AST's and technicians in RD. The top-level goals of this team are to evaluate and recommend improvements to the RD promotion process that will improve the efficiency and transparency of these processes for all AST's and technicians in RD."
Keith's 1 Feb update: The survey has suddenly closed. Oops.
"Applies to: Applies to: Tuesday, January 26, 2016 FEDERAL OFFICES in the Washington, DC area are CLOSED. Emergency and telework-ready employees required to work must follow their agency's policies, including written telework agreements."
"The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured this natural-color image of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. on January 24, 2016."
"The following is a letter from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to grantee institutions running NASA-funded programs regarding harassment policies: As a leader in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), NASA endeavors to make our collaborations with our grant recipient institutions as productive and successful as possible in all facets of our shared objectives. This means that we seek not only the most innovative and cutting-edge scientific and technological research from our grant recipients, we also expect strong efforts to create and sustain welcoming and inclusive educational environments. We view such efforts not as "something nice to do" if the time can be spared, or something that human resources or the diversity and equity offices are responsible for, but rather as an integral and indeed necessary aspect of all educational program environments. Let me be perfectly clear: NASA does not tolerate sexual harassment, and nor should any organization seriously committed to workplace equality, diversity and inclusion. Science is for everyone and any behavior that demeans or discourages people from fully participating is unacceptable."
Keith's 15 Jan 5:00 pm note: Kudos to Charlie Bolden for making a very public and unequivocal stance on this issue. No one will ever doubt NASA's stance on this issue. In fact Bolden may have just set a new, higher standard in this regard.
Keith's 15 Jan 1:35 pm note: The issue of sexual harassment in space science and astronomy has taken on a life of its own in traditional and social media. The hashtag #astroSH for these discussions has been trending nationally on Twitter. This has attracted a number of women who have opened up about experiences they had to endure while trying to pursue a career - thus inspiring others to comment as well.
As with anything that gets popular in social media there are now fake Twitter accounts popping up behind which people hide and snipe on #astroSH conversations. Other fake accounts use the hashtag as part of so-called spambot marketing schemes. Yet the core focus of #astroSH continues to grow. And of course #astroSH is a subset of much larger issue of harassment in research and the workplace.
NASA funds a substantial portion of the astronomy and space science research that forms the core of this community's activity. While these specific harassment cases are indeed internal issues within specific non-NASA institutions, NASA does have an unequivocal moral stake in the way that these cases are handled - as well as pushing to make such behavior unwelcome in the first place. Yes, NASA like all other government agencies has a list of formal policies on this matter. However having these policies does not seem to have stifled this behavior. But NASA does have people at its helm - specifically NASA Administrator Bolden, Deputy Administrator Newman, and Chief Scientist Stofan, who could use their prominence to speak out on this issue. So far we've heard nothing but silence. One would hope that will change soon.
"For what is believed to be the first time in its history, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena has suspended a faculty member for gender-based harassment. The researcher has been stripped of his university salary and barred from campus for 1 year, is undergoing personalized coaching to become a better mentor, and will need to prove that he has been rehabilitated before he can resume advising students without supervision. Caltech has not curtailed his research activities. The university has not disclosed the name of the faculty member, but Science has learned that it is Christian Ott, a professor of theoretical astrophysics who studies gravitational waves and other signals from some of the most violent events in the cosmos."
"A U.S. congresswoman is calling out a leading astronomy educator who violated the sexual harassment policy at the University of Arizona, saying the case highlights a larger problem of holding known offenders accountable in higher education."
"The new revelations confirm that harassment is a widespread problem in science with only some of the instances now coming to light, says Joan Schmelz, an astronomer at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and longtime advocate for women in astronomy. "You can't just sweep this stuff under the rug, declare it confidential and hope that no one ever knows about it," she says."
What astronomy can do about sexual harassment, Meg Urry/AAS, CNN
"Last week, at its annual winter conference, the American Astronomical Society held a well-attended plenary session to address harassment and next steps. To an outsider, the many articles about the incident might make astronomy seem like a bad place for women. But having worked in physics and astronomy for some 40 years, I see this bad news about astronomy as really good news."
- Stopping Sexual Harassment In The Space Science Community (Update), earlier post
- Dealing With Harassment at American Astronomical Society, earlier post
- Harassment Hypocrisy from the AAS Membership, earlier post
"There are three displays presently located in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC honoring Fred Durant, George Mueller, and Bob Farquhar who left our planet in 2015. Ad Astra."
"Katherine Johnson once remarked that even though she grew up in the height of segregation, she didn't think much about it because 'I didn't have time for that don't have a feeling of inferiority. Never had. I'm as good as anybody, but no better.' "The truth in fact, is that Katherine is indeed better. She's one of the greatest minds ever to grace our agency or our country, and because of the trail she blazed, young Americans like my granddaughters can pursue their own dreams without a feeling of inferiority."
"In 1953, after years as a teacher and later as a stay-at-home mom, she began working for NASA's predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or NACA. The NACA had taken the unusual step of hiring women for the tedious and precise work of measuring and calculating the results of wind tunnel tests in 1935. In a time before the electronic computers we know today, these women had the job title of "computer." During World War II, the NACA expanded this effort to include African-American women."
NASA: Cabana played role in illegal hires at KSC, Florida Today
"Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana and other senior leaders were more involved than previously disclosed in illegal spaceport hires that may still be subject to federal investigation, according to records FLORIDA TODAY obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Auditors found the hires of three administrative assistants supporting Cabana and two other high-ranking officials on the fourth floor of KSC headquarters suggested a deliberate effort to get around federal laws requiring competition and priority consideration for certain military veterans. "OPM's report also identified three illegal appointments in the Director's Office that I believed may have resulted from a willful intent to violate veterans' preference laws or to circumvent fair and open competition," NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot wrote last year in a "Letter of Counseling" to Cabana, referring to the results of a 2013 audit by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. NASA records show Cabana identified and lobbied for three people who became known internally as the "primes," or prime candidates, to fill openings as his executive assistant and Deputy Director Janet Petro's secretary in mid-2012."
Keith's note: I have to say that this article is an impressive piece of work by James Dean. Based on his good work, it would seem that this sort of flawed management behavior is totally acceptable at KSC - starting at the top. Remember the whole Ed Mango saga? You can be convicted of a job-related felony and still keep your job at KSC. So ... why is any of this other behavior surprising?
Have a look at this 3 Nov 2015 internal KSC email - not only can you keep your job at KSC after pleading guilty to a felony, you get promoted.
Subject: GFAST Lead
All, As most are aware Kathy Milon has accepted a position on a Source Board and will be leaving her position in C3 soon. I first want to express a heartfelt thanks to her for her dedication and commitment to the success of GFAST and the C3 Project; truly a great job in getting us as far as we've come. So thank-you Kathy! Ed Mango has accepted the challenge to lead the GFAS Team, with the transition to commence immediately. I know everyone will support Ed in this new assignment and we're fortunate to have someone of his experience ready to step in. This assignment will be for what's likely to be for a few months as we identify a long-term solution and phase that person in over time. Please join me in thanking Kathy and wishing her well, and welcoming Ed into his new role! Please pass this info on to your teams or forward as appropriate.
"NASA has named Todd May acting director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, as the agency continues the process of looking for a permanent director. Patrick Scheuermann, who served as the Marshall director since September 2012, is retiring from the agency, effective Friday. His retirement caps a 27-year career with NASA that began in 1988 as a propulsion test engineer at the agency's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi."
"Kjell Lindgren played Amazing Grace on the pipes after recording a message about research scientist Victor Hurst, who was involved in astronaut training. ... In a video recorded in the last few days, Mr Lindgren said all of them had come into contact with Dr Hurst during their training and were "shocked and saddened" to hear about his death. Dr Hurst worked for US engineering company Wyle Science as a research scientist and instructor. He died suddenly in October, aged 48. Nasa flight engineer Mr Lindgren said: "He always had a quick smile, a kind word. I don't know if anyone was more enthusiastic and professional about being involved in human space flight."
"Charles Elachi, the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2001, announced today he is retiring at the end of June 2016. He will become professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, where he currently serves as a vice president and professor of Electrical Engineering and Planetary Science. Elachi began his career at JPL in 1970."
"Bob was laid to rest the other day after 83 orbits around the sun. Bob liked to tinker with things - especially spacecraft and their orbits. Let me change that. Bob was a hacker. Since he actually was the smartest guy in the room, he always had the numbers on his side. And he was persistent - sometimes waiting months, years, or even decades to get something to happen the way he envisioned it."
"In 1959, even before President Kennedy had announced that we choose to go to the Moon, Stanley F. Schmidt was developing a midcourse navigation system needed for a space capsule on a circumlunar voyage. Stan then was chief of the dynamics analysis branch at NASA Ames when his former boss, Harry Goett, challenged him to do pioneering research in advance of the Apollo mission. High-speed computer processing was in its infancy, and processing vast amounts of data in real time accurately enough to direct a spacecraft to and from the Moon was a daunting challenge."
"NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Director Patrick Scheuermann announced to center staff today that he will retire on Nov. 13. In his email to the Marshall team, Scheuermann did not say what he will do next, but that he and his family will remain in the Tennessee Valley. He has been director of Marshall since 2012. There was also no immediate word on Scheuermann's successor. The center recently announced that Todd May, formerly head of the Space Launch System (SLS) program, would become deputy director. May replaced Teresa Vanhooser, who also retired earlier this year as deputy director."
Keith's note: My friend Robert Farquhar left this life today. He orbited the sun 83 times. He was big on orbits and designed some of the most esoteric and complex spacecraft trajectories ever attempted which were executed with stunning precision. Between ISEE-3's crazy trips around the inner solar system to the recent flyby of Pluto, Bob had a hand in many missions.
The ISEE-3 Reboot effort during which I got to know Bob very well - was spawned by Bob's relentless persistence and was the capstone to a career that spanned decades and saw into the future with immense precision. He was a hacker in his 80s and simply stunned some of the younger folks who worked on our team.
Bob was a steely-eyed missile man and a genuine space cowboy who always knew exactly how to get NASA to do what it needed to do - even if NASA did not know it at the time. Bob taught me that you are never too old to try new things and that being a pain in the ass serves a vital role in the exploration of space.
I went to visit Bob a week or so ago at home. He was weak but still smiled when I reminded him that he and I had agreed to go outside and wave at ISEE-3 when it flies by Earth again in 2029. More to follow in the days ahead.
George Mueller, NASA engineer who helped enable moon landing, dies at 97, Washington Post (Extensive obituary)
"George Mueller, a coolly decisive, hard-driving engineer, scientist and administrator who was given much of the credit for enabling NASA to meet President John F. Kennedy's manned moon landing timetable, as well as for initiating the Skylab and space shuttle programs, died Oct. 12 at his home in Irvine, Calif. He was 97."
"Astronomer Geoffrey Marcy is stepping down as a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, following revelations that a university investigation found he had sexually harassed multiple students between 2001 and 2010. ... Marcy has also resigned as principal investigator of the Breakthrough Listen project, a US$100 million initiative announced in July to search for signs of intelligent life in the Universe."
"Michael T. Suffredini will lead the Commercial Space Division, a new enterprise for SGT. The Commercial Space Division will focus SGT's and its affiliated companies', spaceflight engineering, operations and hardware development capabilities on space related commercial opportunities. Through private and public/private partnerships the division expects to play a significant role in the development of low Earth orbit capabilities to support and foster the growing economy and commercialization of space. Dr. Kam Ghaffarian, the CEO and President of SGT stated "Mike's experience and accomplishments are the perfect match for our Commercial Space Division and he will build a new future for SGT as we embark on the commercialization of space."
"James Calvin McLane III, an engineer, author, caver, collector, space technology expert, motorcyclist, photographer, Lutheran, adventurer, and friend, died in his home of a heart attack on Tuesday, September 22, 2015. He was 70 years old. In between traveling the world working in oil and gas, he had a distinguished career working in the footsteps of his father for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)."
"The summit takes its informal name as a tribute to Noel Hinners (1935-2014). For NASA's Apollo program, Hinners played important roles in selection of landing sites on the moon and scientific training of astronauts. He then served as NASA associate administrator for space science, director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA chief scientist and associate deputy administrator of NASA. Subsequent to responsibility for the Viking Mars missions while at NASA, he spent the latter part of his career as vice president for flight systems at Lockheed Martin, where he had responsibility for the company's roles in development and operation of NASA's Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey, Phoenix Mars Lander, Stardust and Genesis missions."
Noel Hinners, earlier post
"He did everything you could do in and around NASA once," Cowing said."
Keith's note: Noel would be totally humbled to learn of this.
Keith's 11 Aug update: Sources report that the person (referenced below) who was told that they could not attend the JPL Planetary Science Summer School has now been told by NASA HQ that they can attend after all.
Keith's 7 Aug 10:11 am note: The following is posted in a Closed Facebook page "Young Scientists for Planetary Exploration". The group has 1,549 members. I was made aware of this issue last night in great detail before I asked to join the group. When my membership was approved just now I was confronted with a warning that I would be banned for life if I posted anything from this group. I was not aware of this restriction when I asked to join - only after the fact. This is an important issue that needs to be surfaced. I will not identify the individual who posted this. I expect to be banned momentarily. Oh well.
Keith's 7 Aug 8:11 pm note: I have been kicked out of the group (one would assume) for raising this issue. You're welcome. What is really odd is that Andy Rivkin, one of the people who run this Facebook group, violates their own rules with regard to publicly discussing content from within the group.
"I've been participating in this year's JPL Planetary Science Summer School for the past 9 weeks, and was told only today that I have been declined further participation in the program, and will be withdrawn from next week's session at JPL. The reason I was given was that my place of birth was in Hong Kong, regardless of the fact that my citizenship is Canadian. NASA regards all persons born in Hong Kong as Chinese Nationals, including those like myself who were born prior to the 1997 handover, were never granted Chinese citizenship, and have immigrated to other countries like Canada. After contacting some people to try to understand why I was informed of this so late, it has come to my attention that this is a NASA-wide issue (not just JPL or PSSS) that was enacted just today by the NASA HQ Security Branch."
"The passing of Claudia Alexander reminds us of how fragile we are as humans but also as scientists how lucky we are to be part of planetary science. She and I constantly talked about Comets. Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in particular. She was an absolute delight to be with and always had a huge engaging smile when I saw her. It was easy to see that she loved what she was doing. We lost a fantastic colleague and great friend. I will miss her." - Dr. James Green, Director of NASA's Planetary Science Division
"NASA has announced that Dr. David E. Bowles has been named director of NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, succeeding Stephen G. Jurczyk who served in that capacity from April 2014. Bowles has been serving as the acting center director since March of this year when Jurczyk was temporarily assigned to NASA Headquarters as the acting Associate Administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate. Jurczyk has since been named associate administrator."
"John W. (Jack) King, former chief of Public Information at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, died June 11, 2015. He was 84. A resident of Cocoa Beach, Florida, King worked in the space agency's Public Affairs office from 1960 until 1975. He returned to Kennedy in 1997, working for space shuttle contractor United Space Alliance until his 2010 retirement. According to Hugh Harris, retired director of NASA Public Affairs at Kennedy, King was instrumental in instituting open communications with the public during the beginning of America's civilian space program."
"By special request from the film producers of the upcoming major motion picture "The Martian," NASA and Kennedy Space Center employees have been invited to participate in a group photo session on Thursday, June 11, at 7:30 a.m. This opportunity will take place at the KSC Visitor Complex Rocket Garden and should last no longer than one hour. The first 200 people to show up will be included in the photo. Be advised that the photo will be altered so that 10-15 faces will be superimposed by actual cast members from the movie."
Keith's note: It is rather odd for NASA KSC to invite people to a photo shoot with movie stars who will not be there and then be told that 10-15 of the people who show up will be replaced by the movie stars - who are not there. And then the photo will presumably be used to show how people who never actually met the movie star worked with those movie stars.
NASA Legend Dale Myers Dies at 93; Helped Save Apollo 13, Times of San Diego
"Dale Myers, a famed NASA administrator who helped save the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission and resurrect the space shuttle program after the 1986 Challenger disaster, has died at his retirement home in La Costa. Myers was 93 when he died May 19 at La Costa Glen, his home for 10 years. But he had lived intermittently in Leucadia since 1962, where he had a vacation home, said Janet Westling of San Marcos, one of his two daughters. "He loved being independent," Westling told Times of San Diego. "He didn't stop driving, and was very happy and alive to the day he died. Friends of his say, 'We all want to go that way.'"
"James Turner Rose, 1935-2015, known throughout the space community to have been an early pioneer of space as a place for commercial pursuits, Jim Rose was among the first to develop a business proposition that involved capturing the advantages of microgravity. He created Electrophoresis Operations In Space (EOS), the first joint endeavor agreement between industry and NASA to bring space commercialization into reality."
Marjorie Townsend, who managed a U.S. spacecraft launch, dies at 85, Washington Post
"In 1959, Mrs. Townsend became one of the first female engineers to join the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In the next decade, she became the first female spacecraft project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. From the mid-1960s to 1975, she managed the agency's small astronomy satellite program, where she was responsible for the design, construction, testing and orbital operations of NASA's first astronomical spacecraft."
"Nov. 4, 1919 - May 5, 2015 -- Mr. Holderer was born in Preum, Germany. He was the last surviving member of Wernher von Braun's original team of 120 engineers and scientists coming from Germany as part of Operation Paperclip in 1945."
Keith's note: Eugene Tu will be named today as the new Center Director at NASA Ames Research Center. Tu will replace Pete Worden who retired from the position last month. Tu is currently the Director of Exploration Technology at NASA ARC and has held this position since November 2005.
"According to NASA, the deputy administrator "provides overall leadership, planning, and policy direction." Her duties will include leading NASA governmental affairs; oversight of the agency's offices, communications, and educational programs; and serving as the NASA representative to the multinational partnership that manages the International Space Station."
"22.214.171.124 The Deputy Administrator is responsible to the Administrator for providing overall leadership, planning, and policy direction for the Agency. The Deputy Administrator performs the duties and exercises the powers delegated by the Administrator, assists the Administrator in making final Agency decisions, and acts for the Administrator in his or her absence by performing all necessary functions to govern NASA operations and exercise the powers vested in the Agency by law. The Deputy Administrator articulates the Agency's vision and represents NASA to the Executive Office of the President, Congress, heads of Federal and other appropriate Government agencies, international organizations, and external organizations and communities."
A Space Maverick Quietly Departs NASA, editorial, Space News
"Outspoken, with a palpable disdain for management bureaucracy, Mr. Worden was an enthusiastic advocate of small satellites and other innovations like single-stage-to-orbit rocket technology during a 29-year career in the U.S. Air Force. More hawkish than most dared to be on the touchy subject of space warfare, Mr. Worden in 1993 led Clementine, a low-cost robotic mission to the moon that he later characterized as a "sneaky space weapon test." Somewhat counterintuitively given his warrior reputation, Mr. Worden also was recognized as a bona fide intellectual, holder of a doctorate in astronomy and author or co-author of more than 150 scientific and technical papers including one in which he branded NASA a "self-licking ice cream cone."
Keith's note: Odd that Space News overtly mentions Pete Worden's doctorate and then refer to him as "Mr." a dozen times. When I inquired Space News told me that no one is called "Dr." in their publication. Oh well. Otherwise, its a nice overview of Dr. Worden's tenure at NASA.
Ames Has A Stargate, earlier post
"Bill left ARAMCO to join Wernher Von Braun's team of scientists and engineers in NASA in Huntsville, Ala. The team was then working on the design of the Saturn V rocket. While with NASA, Bill continued his education at the University of Alabama, eventually earning masters and doctoral degrees in math and engineering. Bill's career at NASA saw him involved with all Saturn V launches, the Apollo moon missions, Hubble Space Telescope and the AstroLab array of X-ray telescopes that flew aboard the Space Shuttle on three different missions. Bill also served as a member of one of three, four-man teams that managed to keep the crippled Skylab in orbit until it was allowed to fall safely to earth. At the time of his retirement from NASA, Bill was working on the design of the navigation system for the X33 Space Craft, which was to have been the replacement for the Space Shuttle."
"A woman who was among 13 selected for training as possible astronauts in the early 1960s has died at her northern Michigan home. She was 89. Bernice Steadman was a member of the so-called "Mercury 13." NASA dropped the program, and it was 22 more years before a U.S. woman went to space."
"February 5, 1918 ~ March 19, 2015 (age 97)"
Goddard Legend Retires at 92 (page 12)
"How many colleagues do you know who retired at 92 with 70+ years at Government service? Seaton Norman, Telecommunications Manager for Code 761 retired from Goddard on September 3, 2010. He has served 30 years in the U.S. Air Force, and 40-plus years in communications at NASA. During his career at NASA, he has received the Goddard Award of Merit, the NASA Exceptional Service award, the Silver Snoopy Award, and received the NASA Space Flight Awareness Award for his many years of support for the Shuttle program."
Keith's note: Dava Newman was chosen as the nominee for NASA Deputy Administrator 5 months ago in October 2014. We have heard nothing since then. Dava Newman has yet to testify before the Senate (and get their approval) so it is unclear when she will be formally confirmed. With impending food fights in the Republican-led Congress, such routine things as nominations may be stalled - or (worse) may become opportunities to score partisan points against the Administration - with the nominee taking the brunt of the negative energy.
Meanwhile, Charlie Bolden has been telling senior NASA staff that he intends to be doing
"a lot of traveling in my final two years". Stay Tuned.
Keith's update: Word has it that Dava Newman will be present with Charlie Bolden at the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Thursday.
"F. Curtis (Curt) Michel, the Andrew Hays Buchanan Professor Emeritus of Space Physics and Astronomy, died Feb. 23 at the age of 80. Although he retired in 2000 after 37 years at Rice, Michel continued to keep an office on campus, where he pursued his studies of solar winds, radio pulsars and numerical methods. He was part of the fourth class of astronauts chosen by NASA in 1965 as the agency ramped up the Apollo moon program. He was one of six scientist-astronauts in the class, the first on a roster that until that point had been largely limited to test pilots."
Curt Michel, Wikipedia
Keith's note: NASA Ames Research Center Director Pete Worden will announce this afternoon that he is leaving NASA at the end of March.
Keith's update: NASA ARC Memo: All Hands Meeting: Pete Worden is Leaving NASA
"On Wednesday, Feb. 25, I informed NASA Administrator Bolden that I have decided to retire from federal service and pursue some long-held dreams in the private sector."
Worden Announces Retirement as NASA Ames Center Director
"Earlier today, Pete Worden notified me of his decision to retire as Director of NASA's Ames Research Center. After more than four decades of dedicated public service, Pete said it was time to pursue other opportunities. He is an innovative leader, and a tireless advocate for change who has well-positioned Ames and its people for the future exploration opportunities facing this agency."
Keith's note: Sonja Alexander Maclin has passed away.
Service arrangements below.
Sonja was always the nicest person I talked to at NASA Headquarters - on any topic.
"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has named Steve Jurczyk as the agency's Associate Administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate, effective Monday, March 2. The directorate is responsible for innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use on future NASA missions. Jurczyk has served as Center Director at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, since April of 2014."
"Pilot Fitzhugh "Fitz" Fulton Jr., known as the "Dean of Flight Test" for his involvement in pioneering programs including the space shuttle piggyback flights, died Wednesday at home in Thousand Oaks. He was 89.The cause was complications of Parkinson's disease, said his daughter, Ginger Terry. His four-decade career included flying for the military, NASA and Scaled Composites, headed by aviation pioneer Burt Rutan in Mojave."
Valorie Burr (NASA GSFC)
"Valorie A. Burr, 61, a resident of Odenton, MD, passed away at her home on January 21, 2015."
"Today we remember and give thanks for the lives and contributions of those who gave all trying to push the boundaries of human achievement. On this solemn occasion, we pause in our normal routines and remember the STS-107 Columbia crew; the STS-51L Challenger crew; the Apollo 1 crew; Mike Adams, the first in-flight fatality of the space program as he piloted the X-15 No. 3 on a research flight; and those lost in test flights and aeronautics research throughout our history."
Keith's note: Denise J. Stewart has passed away. She worked at NASA Headquarters for a number of years.
Update: Memorial details are below:
"Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has hired Michael Gazarik as Director for its Office of Technology on the Boulder campus effective March 2. Dr. Gazarik will lead the alignment of Ball's technology development resources with business development and growth strategies."
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Statement: "Mike's experienced leadership and commitment has been critical to building the strong foundation upon which our Space Technology Mission Directorate now stands," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Through his hard work and vision, he's developed an innovative, cross-cutting organization that creates the new knowledge and capabilities needed to enable our future missions. Mike's proven that technology drives exploration and is a critical component of our journey to Mars. His tireless work and dedication to fostering innovation at NASA will be sorely missed."
NASA Associate Administrator for Space Technology Michael Gazarik Statement: "It's been a great honor to lead a team that has, for the first time in more than a decade, created a robust, relevant and innovative space technology program at NASA. As my family and I embark on a new chapter in our lives and I accept an aerospace industry position, I depart knowing that the NASA team is well on its way to achieving important space technology milestones that will enable our journey to Mars and beyond."
"Alberto Enrique Behar, 47, of Scottdale, Arizona, died at the scene of the crash, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. R. Hays said. Behar was the only person on board the aircraft. According to his online resume on LinkedIn.com, Behar had worked as an investigation scientist at JPL in Pasadena since 1991, where he worked on robotics systems for planetary exploration."
Explorers dive under Greenland ice, BBC (2008)
"Dr Behar is a robotics expert with the agency at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, US. He has been studying the tubular crevasses that appear on the surface of the Greenland ice known as moulins."
"Owen Glenn was hired by NACA in Langley, Virginia to design and operate a supersonic wind tunnel. In 1958, NACA became NASA and Owen Glenn joined the Space Task Group, focusing on the Apollo Program. Owen Glenn was a pioneer throughout his life using his positive "can do, will do" attitude to work with others on many programs and causes bringing dreams to reality."
Owen Glenn, NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project
Keith's note Thomas C. McMurtry passed away at 6:40 AM, Saturday, January 3, 2015.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, January 10th at 12:30 at Father Serra Parish in Quartz Hill. Viewing will be Friday, January 9th at Halley Olsen Mortuary in Lancaster between 4-8pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Carmelite Sisters of Alhambra (http://www.carmelitesistersocd.com/gifts-in-memoriam/) or Father Serra Parish in Lancaster, CA.
"Thomas C. McMurtry brought a distinguished career as a research pilot and administrator to a close on June 3, 1999, when he retired from NASA's Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA, after 32 years of service. Most recently, McMurtry was Associate Director for Operations at NASA Dryden from July 27, 1998, and also served as Dryden's acting Chief Engineer from February, 1999 until his retirement."
"Suddenly on Friday, December 26, 2014, James Hsiu-Kai Chi died at his home in Gaithersburg, MD."
According to a NASA employee who knew him "James, a highly respected and talented senior information technology specialist, served as a key graphic designer for the NASA family for many years."
"On December 14, 2014.... Memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 3, 2015"
"NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin today announced the appointment of Samuel W. Keller as Associate Administrator for Russian Programs. The new function is being established within the Office of the Administrator and will give focus to the many programs involving NASA and the former Soviet Union."
"Lawrence W. Vogel (age 94) passed away after a brief illness on December 18, 2014. For 12 years, Col. Vogel served as Director of NASA Headquarters Administration and was proud to be a part of NASA's very successful manned space programs highlighted in the Apollo lunar missions. After retirement from public service in 1986, Col. Vogel remained very active in West Point and NASA retiree activities."
Federal Job Satisfaction Sinks in Latest Survey, Government Executive
"Employee satisfaction and commitment declined to their lowest levels since the 2003 debut of the "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government" report in the edition released Tuesday by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte Consulting LLP."
Feds unhappy with leaders, new government survey finds, Washington Post
"Employees at NASA, which ranks as the best large place to work in the government, said they value their mission to continue cutting-edge research, technology and space exploration despite the retirement of the high-profile shuttle program. "Everyone here has a lot of pride and knowledge, and they're high-caliber individuals," NASA flight director Mike Sarafin said. "Just being surrounded by people like that drives you to be your best."
2014 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government, Partnership for Public Service
"For the third year in a row, the number one Best Places to Work large agency is NASA with a score of 71.6."
Keith's note: Sources report that Lewis Peach has died. Lew was always working on interesting things. Always. Ad astra.
"Lewis Peach died on Nov. 22 at his home in Arnold. He retired from Senior Executive Service at NASA where he served as Project Manager in the Office of Space Flight, and the NASA Academy for program/Project and Engineering Leadership. He was a vice-president for exploration/development at USRA. Lewis began his career at NASA's Ames Research Center. He was a board member of Hawaii's Pisces space program and was a Vietnam veteran."
More arrangement information below
A Question of Loyalty, Pasadena Weekly
"Over the past eight months, Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Cate Heneghan said she has been dealing with what she considers to be an abuse of authority by NASA, which has been trying to force her to sign what amounts to a loyalty oath -- asking intrusive questions about her allegiance to the United States. Heneghan, who was born and raised in Bethesda, Md., studied at New Mexico State and USC and has dual citizenship with Ireland, argues that the questions do not conform to NASA guidelines. "How is it JPL is implementing these questions beyond the adjudicative standard, which is required in HSPD-12?" asked Heneghan, who does concept development design for NASA missions and has been at JPL for 26 years. "No one can answer that question."
Caltech professor claims Israeli spy infiltrated JPL, Pasadena Star News
"Sandra Troian alleges Caltech administrators ignored the school's whistleblower policy and retaliated against her for the past four years because if they had documented her concern, they could have put an $8 billion contract with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at risk and put the school in a bad light. Troian said she is frightened for her career. ...
... "In a statement issued late Thursday, Caltech called Troian's lawsuit meritless and said the institution always abides by export control laws and ITAR. It also regularly cooperates with government agencies such as the FBI, the statement said. "The plaintiff, who was dissatisfied with the outcome of a recent internal campus investigation into her decision to list her cat as the author of a published abstract and omit recognition of a postdoctoral scholar who performed related research, suffered no retaliation and remains an active faculty member of the institution," the Caltech statement said."
Sean O'Keefe Joins CSIS as Distinguished Senior Adviser, Center for Strategic and International Studies
"CSIS has developed a stellar reputation as an important, objective catalyst to shape the public policy debate on a wide range of global security issues," Mr. O'Keefe said. "I am delighted to have the privilege to participate in the debate with the added benefit of drawing on the partnership expertise of my colleagues at the Syracuse University Maxwell School."
Sean O'Keefe Appointed University Professor, Phanstiel Chair, Syracuse University
"O'Keefe has also been named the Howard G. and S. Louise Phanstiel Chair in Strategic Management and Leadership at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs."
Keith's note:This email from Phil Larson, Senior Advisor at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, has been making the rounds here in Washington:
"After five extraordinary years, I wanted to let you know that I will be leaving the White House at the end of November. During a week in which the President forged a historic agreement to help combat climate change and continued his fight to maintain a free and open Internet, I couldn't be prouder to have been part of this Administration's science, technology, and innovation efforts. I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity to have served a President so intensely focused on cultivating the roots of American ingenuity and empowering people to change the world for the better. Whether it was helping launch and support a bold new era for NASA, ensuring our students have the tools they need to succeed in a 21st century economy, or lifting up a nation of geeks, I am deeply proud of what we've accomplished together and humbled to have been part of it. I look forward to connecting with each of you personally in the coming days, but let me just say how grateful I am to have worked with the greatest Science Advisor in history and the best OSTP team ever assembled. Still fired up."
"Today, the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) announced that Elizabeth Robinson, PhD, will be joining the Association as director of Finance and chief financial officer (CFO) on November 3, 2014. Robinson will lead ALPA's finance team. Robinson comes to ALPA from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), where she held the position of CFO since 2009. "Having worked with her in the past, I'm confident in her tremendous ability," said ALPA's general manager Lori Garver. "I look forward to her bringing her expertise and commitment to ALPA."
NASA maintains lofty worker-satisfaction ratings for 2014, Washington Post
"National Aeronautics and Space Administration employees remained largely satisfied with their agency this year, likely continuing the agency's trend of ranking among the best places to work in the federal government, according to results from a recent survey. Seventy-one percent of NASA staffers who responded to the Office of Personnel Management's federal-employee viewpoints survey gave the agency a positive mark this year when asked about their overall impression of the organization. NASA in 2013 earned the highest composite score among all federal agencies for the second consecutive year."
"These results indicate some challenges to be addressed by senior leaders, particularly around their continuing efforts to be intentional and authentic when communicating big Agency issues with their employees."
"Generally, the 2 years of NASA premium-class travel we reviewed was properly authorized and complied with Federal and Agency travel policy. However, we identified four instances of premium travel that did not fall within any FTR or Agency exceptions, errors and omissions in some travel authorizations, and inaccuracies in NASA's reporting of its premium travel to GSA. In addition, we found the Agency's travel policy did not include several elements required by GSA."
"Dr. Dava Newman, Nominee for Deputy Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Dr. Dava Newman is a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She first joined the MIT faculty in 1993 and has held a number of different faculty positions since then. Dr. Newman is a Harvard-MIT Health, Sciences and Technology faculty member and became a MacVicar Faculty Fellow in 2000. She is also the Director of the MIT Portugal Program, Director of the Technology and Policy Program, and Co-Director of the Man-Vehicle Laboratory at MIT. From 1992 to 1993, she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Houston. Dr. Newman received a B.S. from the University of Notre Dame and two S.M.s and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."
The deputy administrator's specific duties, Newman says, include NASA's legislative and intergovernmental affairs; communications; the Mission Support Directorate; and international relationships, including the multinational partnership that manages the International Space Station. In addition, the post oversees educational programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics Helping to spur the interest of young people in space, and in engineering in general, will be "a privilege," Newman says. "I'd like to change the conversation with kids about what it means to be an engineer" -- which she calls "the best job in the world, where you get to solve really challenging and extraordinary problems in the service of humankind."
Dava Newman - New Deputy Administrator at NASA, 8 October post
Shana Dale Joins FAA Commercial Space Office as Deputy AA, Space Policy Online
"Shana Dale will become Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (AST) at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as of November 3, 2014. She succeeds George Zamka who left AST this summer to join Bigelow Aerospace. Dale has served in a number of positions on Capitol Hill and in the George W. Bush Administration. She is perhaps best known in space policy circles as the first woman to serve as Deputy Administrator of NASA from 2005-2009 while Mike Griffin was Administrator."
"Keith Cowing, who runs the blog NASA Watch, said Hinners was a reader of his website and would post comments. He called him "one of the last of a certain breed" of NASA scientists from the early days of space exploration programs. "He had one foot firmly placed in the old NASA and one in the new NASA," Cowing said. Hinners worked a variety of positions at NASA, Cowing said. "He did everything you could do in and around NASA once," Cowing said."
Noel Hinners, a top NASA official, dies at 78, Washington Post
"At the Greenbelt facility, he showed his adherence to the doctrine of management by walking around and visiting scientists and others at their jobs. This included working with the maintenance crew on a night when a snowstorm had left Washington roads impassible. Not one to fear getting his feet wet -- or cold -- Dr. Hinners joined in snow plowing operations on the Goddard grounds, and learned, he said, that "there's an art to it."
"Former NASA astronaut Steven R. Nagel, who served as a mission specialist on his first space shuttle flight, pilot on his second and commanded his final two, died Aug. 21 after a long illness. He was 67 years old. After retiring from NASA May 31, 2011, he joined the University Of Missouri College of Engineering in Columbia, Missouri. There he served as an instructor in the University's Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department."
"This successful vote will allow us to work with management to improve working conditions for NASA support and administrative staff here at NASA headquarters, thereby improving operations, saving money, and retaining an engaged and professional workforce," said Tifarah Thomas, a program specialist within NASA's Office of the Chief Health & Medical Officer. Professional support specialists at NASA headquarters include budget analysts, policy analysts, administrative specialists, secretaries, and others."
"Through a meeting with his good friend Arthur C. Clarke, the noted science fiction author, Ordway was contacted by film director Stanley Kubrick and spent three years working as Kubrick's technical advisor on the landmark film 2001: A Space Odyssey."
Bill Escher, AIAA Associate Fellow, and AIAA Member Emeritus, passed away at his Huntsville, Alabama, home on the morning of May 12. Escher was 82. Escher received the 1988 AIAA George M. Low Space Transportation Award for his work on space transportation programs including Vanguard and the Spaceliner programs, and for his work promoting the Synerjet combined-cycle engine concept for low-cost, reliable access to space.
Keith's note: Civil servants working at Wallops have been seeking to decertify their existing union since June 2013 claiming that union representation is no longer necessary at that location. The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) has not yet decided if they will conduct a special secret ballot election among those civil servants to decertify the current union, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).
The FLRA took the unusual step this week by inviting interested persons to submit Amici Curiae Briefs to them on the legal question of whether the current Federal law under a specific section of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and the FLRA's regulations apply to decertification petitions filed by individuals. Details of the case before the FLRA are here. A FLRA press release on this topic is here. Federal Register notice is here.
Keith's note: David Chenette has been terminated as Heliophysics Director at NASA SMD. His termination is effective COB 20 June 2014. Chenette has been placed on paid administrative leave until that time. Chenette was escorted out of NASA HQ building last week by security personnel.
"Dr. Jeffrey Newmark will be interim Director for NASA's Science Mission Directorate Heliophysics Division as of June 6, 2014."
"You have demonstrated little effort to engage your personnel and provide an inclusive workplace that fosters development to their full potential, despite being instructed that this was your primary objective when you were selected for this position," Grunsfeld, said in the notice, adding that the former Lockheed Martin executive had sown "confusion and apprehension in the scientific community."
From his friends: "Late last week, we lost a remarkable unsung hero of the NASA's launch vehicle program. Frank Spurlock was one of the most accomplished and well regarded supervisors here at NASA Glenn (then Lewis) because of his exceptional technical achievements and beyond the call of duty care he took in developing his people. Frank personally derived the amazingly complex variational calculus equations and wrote the 3D computer program which NASA Lewis relied upon to calculate performance and trajectories for Atlas/Centaur and Titan/Centaur launch vehicles for almost 30 years. These trajectory data were then supplied to the launch vehicle contractors to facilitate their trajectory design & enable the steering coefficients to be calculated."
"One of the nation's most respected aerospace pioneers has passed away. Distinguished research pilot and aeronautical engineer William Harvey Dana died on May 6, 2014. His long and illustrious career at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center spanned more than 48 years, during which Dana logged more than 8,000 hours in over 60 different aircraft from helicopters and sailplanes to the hypersonic X-15. Several of the airplanes he flew are displayed at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C."
"Administrator Charles Bolden has announced several changes in NASA's senior leadership. Lesa Roe has been named as the agency's Deputy Associate Administrator. Steve Jurczyk will replace Roe as Director of NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Sumara Thompson-King has been named the agency's General Counsel, replacing Michael Wholley, who is retiring."
"Due to unexpected personal conflicts, Dr. Michael Meyer has declined the position of NAI's Interim Director. Dr. Meyer explains, "Unfortunately, the requirements levied to resolve a conflict-of-interest were unacceptable."
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."