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.
Recently in Shuttle News Category
"When NASA started flying shuttles again, Hale told the new team of mission managers: "We are never ever going to say that there is nothing we can do." NASA developed an in-flight heat shield repair kit. ... Hale said he is now writing about the issue because he wanted future space officials not to make the mistakes he and his colleagues did. The loss of the Columbia astronauts -- people he knew -- still weighs on Hale. "You never get over it. It's always present with you," Hale said. "These are people I knew well. Several of them, I worked closely with. I was responsible for their safety. It's never going to go away."
Columbia: Thinking Back - Looking Ahead, Excerpt from "New Moon Rising", by Frank Sietzen, Jr. and Keith Cowing
"At the end of the event, Rona Ramon, Ilan's widow, spoke last. Steeling her emotions with grace and clarity, she spoke elegantly and briefly. She thanked all for coming. And then she talked of her husband, and the flight of the lost shuttle. "Our mission in space is not over" she told the hushed audience. "He was the first Israeli in space -- that means there will be more."
Scott Parazynski: Still on Cloud 10 (on the summit of Mt. Everest)
"I tied off a pair of flags I'd made to honor astronauts and cosmonauts who had perished in the line of duty (Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia, Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 11), as I could think of no finer place on Earth to hang them. In the coming days, weeks, months and years, like their Tibetan prayer flag counterparts, they will weather under the wind, sun and snow, and slowly lift back up into the heavens."
"On Monday January 28, Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center) will recognize the anniversary of the Challenger tragedy as it continues its work to strengthen students' interest and knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The non-profit organization was formed as a living tribute to the seven members of the crew and is dedicated to the educational spirit of their mission. Challenger Center and its network of Challenger Learning Centers will recognize the anniversary in a variety of ways, including launching rockets, writing letters about how the crew provided inspiration, and designing commemorative anniversary badges. The Challenger Center staff will visit the memorial at Arlington National Cemetery."
"This program will commemorate and reflect on the challenges of human spaceflight, and consider possibilities for the future with the International Space Station and travel to other bodies in the solar system."
"In addition to doing our webcasts, the other main task we had was the building of a memorial inukshuk to the crew of Space Shuttle Challenger. An inukshuk is stone structure built by the Inuit to mark a specific location - for a variety of reasons. Some times they are marking a navigation point. Other times, a good place for hunting. Some times it is a doorway through which a shaman would pass as part of a religious ritual. Other times, who knows - they thought the place was worth marking."
Keith's note: On a sad note, a number of us who have worked and travelled in the arctic and antarctic are familiar with Kenn Borek Twin Otter planes and their amazing crews. As such, it was very sad to learn that the specific plane that crashed last week in Antarctica was one that I and many others had flown on more than once.
"Space Shuttle Columbia: Mission of Hope is the untold inspirational story of Colonel Ilan Ramon, a fighter pilot and son of Holocaust survivors who became the first and only astronaut from Israel, embarking on a mission with the most diverse shuttle crew ever to explore space. Ramon realized the significance of "being the first" and his journey of self-discovery turned into a mission to tell the world a powerful story about the resilience of the human spirit. Although the seven astronauts of the Columbia perished on February 1, 2003, a remarkable story of hope, friendship across cultures, and an enduring faith emerged."
"NASA Johnson Space Center Director, Ellen Ochoa, astronauts and other NASA employees will join the Sabine County Columbia Memorial Committee and the Patricia Huffman Smith NASA Museum in Hemphill, Texas, to pay tribute to the crew lost aboard the space shuttle Columbia 10 years ago Feb. 1."
"NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., will pay 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 observance on Friday, Feb. 1, the 10th anniversary of the Columbia tragedy."
NASA Human Space Flight Industrial Base in the Post-Space Shuttle/Constellation Environment, Bureau of Industry and Security's Office of Technology Evaluation
"The Shuttle retirement and CxP transition will impact future NASA HSF programs through a loss of unique skills, capabilities, products, and services by select suppliers. The assessment highlights and prioritizes immediate areas of concern for NASA, with focus on the 150 survey respondents that identified themselves as dependent on NASA. Within the group of 150 NASA- dependent companies, the 46 NASA-dependent companies that reported negative net profit margins for at least one year from 2007-2010 should be given particular attention. Without continued business opportunities, these companies have the highest potential of shutting down. Ongoing efforts to develop a deep-space exploration capsule and heavy-lift rocket capability are important first steps to maintaining capabilities, and should be viewed as the building blocks to spur a sustainable HSF supply chain."
Photo: NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and KSC Center Director Bob Cabana sign the formal documents for the transfer of Space Shuttle Atlantis from NASA to the KSC Visitors Center.
Space Shuttle Exhibit Collapses After Sandy (Photo), CNN
"The space shuttle exhibit on the Intrepid, normally a giant grey bubble from the outside, has completely collapsed due to Sandy."
Keith's note: This Instagram picture shows another view of the damage to the bubble that surrounded Enterprise. The museum's live webcam (which stopped updating before the storm hit) shows the bubble before it was destroyed.
"It was built for orbital speeds approaching five miles per second, but space shuttle Endeavour took its own sweet time Sunday as it wheeled triumphantly onto the grounds of its new home, the California Science Center. "Mission 26 -- mission accomplished," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced, amid the cheers of thousands of spectators. Before it was retired by NASA, the spacecraft had logged 25 flight missions. However, its final journey was slowed by unexpected maintenance issues and last-minute maneuvers to avoid obstacles like trees and utility poles. Ultimately, the 85-ton orbiter survived the trip with nary a scratch."
"Cable technicians raise their cherry pickers watch and photograph the space shuttle Endeavour as it is maneuvered through the streets of Inglewood, Calif., on its way to its new home at the California Science Center, on Oct. 13, 2012."
"Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa touted it as "the mother of all parades" -- a historic celebration in a part of Los Angeles that doesn't get much fanfare. Over two days, on the major thoroughfares of Westchester, Inglewood and South Los Angeles, space shuttle Endeavour would slowly make its way from LAX to its new home at the California Science Center. Community activists planned events, residents said they would line the streets and local businesses organized viewing parties. But that excitement has turned to anger as officials clamped down on security and significantly reduced public access to the shuttle route. The Los Angeles Police Department announced this week it would close off most sidewalks along the way, making it difficult, if not impossible, for the public to see the shuttle go by."
"The LAPD officers in charge of the security portion of the massive moving project were there, but it was pretty clear their responsibilities had to do with keeping people and the city safe, not protecting the Shuttle from theft. I asked both officers if they thought, given Bond supervillian-levels of resources, it would be possible for someone to steal the shuttle. They made two mistakes in their answers. First mistake was that the first cop told me it was "impossible." The second mistake was that the other policeman told me "I won't say impossible." Now it sounds like a challenge."
"United Space Alliance says they are laying off over 150 employees across the country -- the majority being here along the Space Coast. USA said 121 of its workers in Brevard County will be laid off. The reduction represents about six percent of their total workforce. Following the layoff, USA will have a total 2,263 employees -- with 1,073 of those in Florida, 1,186 in Texas and 4 in other states. The layoff is due to a reduction in work scope as the Shuttle Transition and Retirement work approaches completion."
Thoughts on the Last Flight of the Shuttle, Dennis Wingo, SpaceRef
"I was at NASA Ames last week when the final flight of the final space shuttle Endeavour on its way to its final destination occurred. As many people did, I stood outside, on top of our MacMoon's at Ames and took pictures. There were over 20,000 people at NASA Ames that waited hours for an event that took no more than one minute to consummate. Beyond that there were hundreds of thousands more people all around Silicon Valley who were outside and watching when the shuttle flew overhead."
Keith's note: There is a comment posted by Mark Uhran, former Assistant Associate Administrator for the International Space Station. Normally I'd refuse to allow ad hominem insults - especially those directed at someone's family - to be posted. But I think Uhran's coworkers might find his bitterness to be noteworthy.
"Late last week, the Space Shuttle Endeavor flew atop a 747 into White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The shuttle continued its journey to Edwards Air Force Base in California. In October, The Space Shuttle Endeavor will be moved via road to a special display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. During the flight, DigitalGlobe captured an amazing image of the shuttle."
@yembrick "So close to Endeavour that the entire bird doesnt fit in my iPhone pic. #OV105 #spotheshuttle #NASASocial"
"The orbiter, atop its 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), is scheduled to fly over northern California and a large area of the Los Angeles basin beginning at about 8:15 a.m. PDT."
"This photo was taken from the NASA Research Park at Moffett Field on 21 September as Space Shuttle Endeavour made a low level flyover. Credit: SkyCorp."
Space Shuttle Discovery: Old Friend, New Neighbor, earlier post
"As soon as I got onto the airport itself the roads were lined thick on either side with cars - and more were parking every second. People had walked up onto bridges where you never see pedestrians. Others congregated in the grassy regions inside of entrance and exit ramps. Again, these are places you simply never see people - much less crowds. This was an immense flash mob that appeared so fast that the police did not have time to respond. No one was directing traffic yet everyone seemed to be cool about being considerate and safe."
"After the refueling stop at Biggs, the SCA and Endeavour will make low-level flybys of the White Sands Missile Range and NASA's White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico, as well as Tucson, Arizona en route to California. The flyover of Tucson will take place approximately an hour and 15 minutes after departure from Biggs. Arrival at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base is scheduled for approximately noon PDT."
"NASA's ferry flight of space shuttle Endeavour atop the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) is rescheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 19 due to an unfavorable weather forecast along the flight path on Tuesday, Sept. 18. Endeavour now is expected to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Friday, Sept. 21."
Weather Postpones Shuttle Endeavour Ferry Flight to Sept. 18
"NASA's ferry flight of space shuttle Endeavour atop the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) has been rescheduled due to an unfavorable weather forecast along the flight path. The planned flyover of northern California has been postponed 24 hours and is now scheduled for the morning of Friday, Sept. 21."
"We have approval from the FAA, Ferry Ops Manager and SCA Commander to publish or externally use the following expanded language for the California flyover: ... "
"On Sept. 19 the shuttle will head to Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso for refueling and then conduct low-level flyovers of White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, N.M., before landing about midday at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, where it sometimes landed on its own after space missions. On the morning of Sept. 20, the plane will conduct low-level flyovers of NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffet Field, Calif., and yet to be specified landmarks in San Francisco, Sacramento and perhaps other California cities before a low-level flyover of Los Angeles. The plane is expected to land at Los Angeles International Airport at about 11 a.m. Pacific time."
Keith's note: I asked Charlie Bolden at the Discovery arrival in Washington Dulles if there'd be a series of NASA center flyovers, stops, etc for Endeavour and he said (with some apparent regret) "no". Now I see that NASA is going out of its way to make sure the NASA family and a lot of America sees Endeavour as she heads for L.A.
- NASA Announces Events For Space Shuttle Endeavour Departure
- NASA Ames Invites Media to Planned Space Shuttle Endeavour Flyover
- NASA's Mystery Jet Flights Over Los Angeles, earlier post
- Space Shuttle Discovery: Old Friend, New Neighbor, earlier post
"NASA, in cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, will conduct training and photographic flights over the Los Angeles area on Saturday, Aug. 25. Two NASA jets, a T-38 and an F-18, will fly approximately 1,500 feet above Los Angeles starting at 8 a.m. PDT. If delayed by weather or other circumstances, the jets will fly at 12:30 p.m. These flights are intended to capture photographic imagery."
"Endeavour, which will be transported on top of NASA's Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), is expected to arrive at LAX mid-day of September 20. The target date is flexible, pending weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center, along the flight path and in Los Angeles."
Keith's note: Gee, I wonder why NASA will be flying T-38s and an F-18 over Los Angeles? Do you think this has something to do with the fact that Space Shuttle Endeavour is going to arrive in Los Angeles on 20 September? Why NASA and/or FAA can't be honest and just admit why they are doing these flyovers is just goofy. As if no one can figure it out.
"The following photos were taken by a longtime Rockwell (now Boeing) Downey employee last week. They are tearing down much of Building 1. It will be replaced by a shopping center. This is where large portions of the Space Shuttles and Apollo spacecraft were built."
"Opportunity has been roving at the north end of Cape York on the rim of Endeavour Crater."
"Kennedy Space Center crews this morning attached a tail cone to the orbiter Endeavour, one of the last major preparations for its planned ferry flight to California next month."
"A marine archaeologist is hoping to find and recover the wreck of Capt. James Cook's famous ship the Endeavour in Newport Harbor."
HMS Endeavour, Wikipedia
NASA takes more than a year to provide shuttle decision documents, Dayton Daily News
"After the National Aeronautics and Space Administration chose not to assign a retired space shuttle last year to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the Dayton Daily News filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking NASA to provide documents supporting its decisions on where to send the orbiters. NASA initially took 13 months to deny in full the newspaper's request, then partially granted an appeal by providing a package of dozens of essentially identical letters that had been sent to members of Congress, governors and big-city mayors to state reasons for the space agency's allocation of the orbiters."
"Today, most of Florida's former shuttle workers have found work, according to a recent survey conducted by Brevard Workforce, which receives state and federal funding to help these highly skilled workers find jobs. Of the 5,690 former shuttle workers who responded to the survey, 57% said they are working, while the remaining 43% are either retired or unemployed. Of the 3,234 who said they have found employment, most of them, 72%, say they are working in Florida. Florida authorities say they've made steps toward transforming the Space Coast into more than just a launch site for shuttles. That, according to the state's Space Coast Economic Development Commission, has helped "put a serious dent" in Brevard County's unemployment rate, which is 9%."
United Space Alliance To Layoff 148 In September, Brevard Times
"NASA Space Shuttle Program contractor United Space Alliance has announced that it will layoff 148 employee on September 28, 2012, according to recent documents filed with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity."
"A year after NASA ended the three-decade-long U.S. space shuttle program, thousands of formerly well-paid engineers and other workers around the Kennedy Space Center are still struggling to find jobs to replace the careers that flourished when shuttles blasted off from the Florida "Space Coast."
"The space shuttle Enterprise took a journey more akin to those of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise than its orbital sister ships on Sunday. The prototype shuttle floated on a barge through New York Harbor, from John F. Kennedy Airport en route to Bayonne, New Jersey."
Keith's note: What no one seems to be mentioning is that the guys driving/pulling the barge carrying Enterprise managed to smash the right wing of Enterprise into a dock. Larger image
"Houston has been with NASA's Space Shuttle Program for 30 years and 135 missions, and this weekend, Houston and NASA will celebrate together as a souvenir of the program arrives in Clear Lake."
"On Sunday, June 3, the replica will make an estimated three-hour trek down NASA Parkway from the Hilton to its permanent home at Space Center Houston. Once on Space Center Houston property, the replica will be welcomed by JSC's prototype planetary rovers for future solar system exploration, local scout troops and marching bands as it is rolled to its location."
Keith's note: Photo by Gwen Griffin, representing Griffin Communications and Space Center Houston, who is currently onboard the Kirby Corp's barge along side. Larger photos
"Dawn is breaking on the morning of February 1, 2003 above West Texas. Suddenly the peace of the early morning is shattered by two loud bangs. The Space Shuttle Columbia is announcing its return home ... Gone is its precious cargo of seven astronauts from around the world. Among them, Col. Ilan Ramon, Israel's first Astronaut. Also gone, an artifact that embodied the glory of the Shuttle's mission and the despair of its demise: a tiny Torah scroll - smuggled into a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust; safeguarded by Joachim Joseph, a Holocaust survivor; and carried into space by Col. Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut."
Keith's note: John Llewellyn, Apollo era flight controller "Black RETRO", died on Tuesday. Details to follow.
"Houston, We've Had a Problem", Jim Lovell
"In Mission Control the Gold Team, directed by Gerald Griffin (seated, back of head to camera), prepares to take over from Black Team (Glynn Lunney, seated, in profile) during a critical period. Seven men with elbows on console are Deke Slayton, Joe Kerwin (Black CapCom), Vance Brand (Gold CapCom), Phil Shaffer (Gold FIDO), John Llewellyn (Black RETRO), Charles Deiterich (Gold RETRO), and Lawrence Canin (Black GNC). Standing at right is Chester Lee, Mission Director from NASA's Washington headquarters, and broad back at right belogs to Rocco Petrone, Apollo Program Director. Apollo 13 had two other "ground" teams, the White and the Maroon. All devised heroic measures to save the mission from disaster."
Keith's note: Looks like the T-38 chase plane got some nice high altitude shots during the fly over of New York City this morning. Larger view.
More images below - send in yours if you like.
"Space shuttle Enterprise, mounted atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), is seen off in the distance behind the Statue of Liberty, Friday, April 27, 2012, in New York. Enterprise was the first shuttle orbiter built for NASA performing test flights in the atmosphere and was incapable of spaceflight."
NASA Reaching for New Heightsm Charles Bolden and Dr. John P. Holdren:
"In his gloomy Washington Post commentary today on yesterday's ceremony transferring ownership of the Space Shuttle Discovery from NASA to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Charles Krauthammer urged readers to think of that transfer as the funeral for U.S. leadership in space. Nothing could be further from the truth. The United States remains far and away the world leader in space technology and exploration. As long as appropriate support continues to be forthcoming from Congress, this will remain the case indefinitely. "
"National Air and Space Museum Director, General John "Jack" Dailey said, "Discovery has distinguished itself as the champion of America's shuttle fleet. In its new home, it will shine as an American icon, educating and inspiring people of all ages for generations to come. The Museum is committed to teaching and inspiring youngsters, so that they will climb the ladder of academic success and choose professions that will help America be competitive and successful in the world of tomorrow."
Image: Jarod Ondas (left), of Virginia, and his brother Austin, watch as space shuttle Discovery approaches the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center for its fly-over, Tuesday, April 17, 2012, in Chantilly, Va. - nasa hq photo's photostream
[Valerie Neal NASM] "I think it's probably a surprise to everyone how the public turned out today with such enthusiasm. And it's quite clear that Americans are still very much interested in human spaceflight and very proud of their space shuttle."
Shuttle Discovery flyover dazzles D.C. area, Washington Times
"When are you ever going to see something like that again?" asked Daniel Pallotta, a Boston resident who drove down with his son to watch the shuttle landing. "You're not. This was awe-inspiring."
NASA's Discovery shuttle wows Washington in 45-minute flyover, Washington Post
"At the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly -- Discovery's new home -- 8-year-old Alex Corica wandered the parking lot wearing an orange shuttle flight suit and a helmet too large to fit his head. He was ready not just to witness, but to fly."
Tweet from Shelby Spires to Alan Boyle: "It amazes me how many people become interested in America's space shuttle program after it over."
Keith's note: If you want an idea what the flyby was like as a few hundred people and I parked illegally and stood on the side of the road outside of Dulles International Airport, go to this video and advance to 2:35 and play. Yea, just like that. For a few seconds our entire field of view was nearly taken up by Discovery and its 747 carrier.
"Space Shuttle Discovery arrived at her new home today - the National Air and Space Museum at the Udvar-Hazy Center, adjacent to Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, DC. While the news of her arrival had been circulated here in Washington for some time, it would seem that many people made their decision to see her arrive at the last minute."
"With the space-shuttle program ended, NASA either must find someone to lease major buildings -- such as the facility where workers repaired shuttle tiles -- or abandon them, because the cash-strapped agency lacks the money to demolish them. Besides looking bad, the crumbling buildings would hinder efforts to remake KSC into a modern spaceport, an initiative estimated to cost $2.3 billion during five years.
"NASA/KSC is hereby soliciting information about potential sources for replacement of industrial overhead bridge crane control, drive, and miscellaneous systems on the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)175-ton crane located in the LC-39 Area of KSC, Florida 32899.
"[Sen.] Schumer ruffled feathers from Florida to Texas for using his congressional clout to score a shuttle for New York, which had a limited role in space exploration. ... Houston, home to NASA's mission control, was left out. Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn fumed at the time that "clear political favors trumped common sense and fairness" in handing out shuttles to Los Angeles and New York."
Keith's note: According to the Tax Foundation:
- In 1981 Texas citizens paid $40,786,000,000 in federal taxes and got $32,851,000,000 back. In 2005 they paid $146,932,000,000 and got $148,683,000,000 back.
- In 1981 New York citizens paid $48,641,000,000 in federal taxes and got $43,574,000,000 back. In 2005 they paid $168,710,000,000 and got $144,876,000,000 back.
New York taxpayers have paid more in federal taxes than they got back. New York taxpayers paid more in federal taxes than Texas taxpayers did. Texas taxpayers got more from the federal government than they paid in taxes.
NASA is funded by tax dollars. New Yorkers paid more for NASA than Texans did. The argument that New Yorkers had less to do with space exploration is fundamentally flawed. New Yorkers' money helped pay Texan salaries at NASA. All of America paid for the Space Shuttle program. All of America should get to share in the shuttle's legacy.
"Charles Bolden: On Sunday, 60 Minutes aired a story that captured some of what the space shuttle era meant to Florida's Space Coast. Unfortunately, the piece also missed an awful lot of important context about the end of that era and where we're headed from here. As a former shuttle astronaut and the Administrator of NASA, nobody has higher regard for the incredible men and women who worked on the Space Shuttle Program. And I certainly understand that for some of those men and women, this transitional period will not be easy."
Video: Lego Space Shuttle Flies To The Edge of Space, NASAHackSpace
"My Lego tribute to the end of the space shuttle era. Proving that although retired, this machine can still fly, albeit in toy form. The launch took place from central Germany and reached a max altitude of 35000m. A 1600g meteo balloon filled with helium was used alongside a GoPro Hero, Spot GPS and of course Lego Space Shuttle model 3367."
"Nine Texas Republicans led by Rep. Pete Olson, whose Sugar Land district includes JSC, are challenging NASA administrator Charles Bolden once again on virtually every aspect of NASA's decision to move the Enterprise from a Smithsonian facility outside the nation's capital to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum."
- NASA Has Given Enterprise to New York's TBD Final Location, earlier post
"Six months before the space shuttle Challenger exploded over Florida on Jan. 28, 1986, Roger Boisjoly wrote a portentous memo. He warned that if the weather was too cold, seals connecting sections of the shuttle's huge rocket boosters could fail. "The result could be a catastrophe of the highest order, loss of human life," he wrote. The shuttle exploded 73 seconds after launching, killing its seven crew members, including Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher from Concord, N.H."
Twin inukshuks on Devon Island. On the left is the Challenger Inukshuk on the right is the memorial to a member of the Columbia crew.
"To honor the memory of the seven astronauts of Space Shuttle Columbia's last flight, and at the suggestion of our colleague Keith Cowing of SpaceRef, the NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) has established seven astronaut memorial sites on Devon Island, in the Canadian High Arctic, during the summer field seasons of 2003 and 2004. Each site was chosen for its special significance in the NASA HMP's analog exploration program near Haughton Crater, and is marked by an Inukshuk, a traditional Inuit "Stone Person". The Inuit erect Inukshuks to mark land and to guide and comfort travelers on perilous journeys across the Arctic."
"I asked Joe Amaraulik if anyone had ever figured out how long these structures would last. He said he wasn't sure if they had been dated but that there were some that had been in place for many centuries. As for how long this one, which we had just built, would last, Joe (a man of few, but well-chosen words) said "forever". In other words - the next ice age."
"Given the sheer mass of the structure, and the slow manner with which things change here, this inukshuk may well be standing 500 years from now. That should be long enough. Maybe someone serving on a starship will think to visit it."
"To the friends and families of these lost space travelers, these inukshuks offer a silent thank you - one amplified by the austere remoteness of this place - a remoteness you have to spend a lot of effort to visit. Right now, space travel is just like that. Hopefully that will change one day."
"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, NASA personnel, and others, participate in a wreath laying ceremony as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, at Arlington National Cemetery. Wreathes were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration."
Statement by the President on NASA Day of Remembrance
"Today, our Nation is pursuing an ambitious path that honors these heroes, builds on their sacrifices, and promises to expand the limits of innovation as we venture farther into space than we have ever gone before. The men and women who lost their lives in the name of space exploration helped get us to this day, and it is our duty to honor them the way they would have wanted to be honored - by focusing our sights on the next horizon."
Statement by the Charles Bolden on NASA Day of Remembrance
"In the face of our greatest accomplishments, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that each time men and women board a spacecraft, their actions carry great risk along with the opportunity for great discoveries and the chance to push the envelope of our human achievement."
"United Space Alliance (USA), the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture created in 1995 to operate NASA's now-retired space shuttle, has been barred by its corporate parents from pursuing any new business, according to industry sources. The move raises new questions about the future of the Houston-based company, a major NASA contractor that has struggled to carve out a prominent new role for itself in the post-shuttle era. USA's current shuttle operations contract is set to expire in September."
"In an email to colleagues, Leinbach said he is going to work for (quote) "a major aerospace company." He did not name the company but said the job will allow him to stay on the Space Coast. Leinbach's resignation is effective Wednesday."
"Our insider source tells us that today, "the official transfer of title of Space Shuttle Orbiter Enterprise from NASA to the Intrepid" was made. "The contract was signed by Lynn Cline, NASA's Deputy Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations and Susan Marenoff-Zausner, President of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum." No take-backs, you guys!"
- New York's Deceptive Shuttle Bid, earlier post
- Anyone Can Now Petition The White House For a Space Shuttle, earlier post
- Did NYC Mislead NASA About Shuttle Plans? Did NASA Check?, earlier post
- Houston Takes Another Shot at New York Over Shuttle Exhibit, earlier post
"Officials of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in Manhattan have taken their pitch for government support of the proposed museum out from behind closed doors. ... But now they hope to build a 75,000-square-foot building across the West Side Highway that would include laboratories for teaching science to children as well as retail space and a rooftop cafe, Mr. Woods said. To do so, they still need permission from the state's Department of Transportation, which owns the site -- and $85 million."
Keith's note: Wait a minute: wasn't this all supposed to have been worked out before New York submitted their application to get a space shuttle - not after the fact? Sounds rather deceptive to me.
Keith's note: President Obama will host the crew of STS-135 on Tuesday at 12:20 pm EDT in the Oval Office.
Keith's Note: It seems that the folks from Ohio managed to get the 5,000 signatures needed to get the White House to respond to their petition to have Space Shuttle Enterprise moved to Ohio instead of New York. The rules for this petition system have changed effective 3 October so you now need 15,000 signatures before the White House will respond. All the White House promises to do is respond when a petition reaches a certain threshold. But it does get their attention.
So, Seattle and Houston (and other contenders) why not try this route yourself? Imagine if every visitor to the Museum of Flight or Space Center Houston were given a card with a website address or a QR code that takes them to a similar petition asking that Enterprise be sent to their location. Local papers could also donate free advertising. At some point, e.g. naming things in space after Stephen Colbert, it is possible that some rethinking might be applied to where Enterprise shows up.
Here's how you set up a petition at WhiteHouse.gov.
Indeed, why shouldn't other locations who did not apply before give it a try? New York won and yet it doesn't even own the property upon which it wants to exhibit Enterprise.
"The quest to land retired Space Shuttle Enterprise at the National Museum of the United States Air Force received a major boost when Paul Noah, the publisher of the Dayton City Paper, donated a full page ad supporting the White House petition effort in the Oct. 18th LWV voters guide issue.
The petition launched two weeks ago, has picked up
approximately 3,500 4,100+ supporters. According to the White House petition policy: "To cross the first threshold and be searchable within WhiteHouse.gov, a petition must reach 150 signatures within 30 days. To cross the second threshold and require a response, a petition must reach 25,000 signatures within 30 days."
View the petition at "We The People" at WhiteHouse.gov"
Keith's update: Apparently the earlier rules prior to 3 October 2011 required only 5,000 signatures for the White House to respond (this petition was submitted prior to that date). Alas, the main organizer of this activity is sending out emails saying "If this petition gets 5,000 signatures by October 30th (it already has 3,743), the Obama administration will reconsider the decision." I see nothing anywhere that even hints that the White House will "reconsider" this decision as to where Space Shuttles will go. Their "response" may well just say "thanks for your concern, we appreciate your interest, etc. but we have already made up our mind. Have a nice day.". If signing a petition on this White House website is going to force the White House to actually "reconsider" its decisions then their webservers will most certainly melt under the pressure from people wanting to change everything.
"This report makes it evident that New York City was, and still is, woefully unprepared to house the Enterprise space shuttle. This also raises further questions about the thoroughness of NASA's selection process -- and I urge NASA to revisit its decision to send the Enterprise to New York."
"The tentative state of the plan highlights how much less certain the Intrepid's proposal was than those of some other museums that lobbied for one of the shuttles. The Museum of Flight in Seattle, for example, spent $11 million to build a structure that would house a shuttle, but did not get one."
Texas lawmakers press NASA for a "real" space shuttle for display in Houston, Houston Chronicle
"American taxpayers "deserve to know" whether the Intrepid Museum will fulfill promises to NASA "before any further action is taken with respect to locating Enterprise at the Intrepid," the lawmakers said. Olson launched his effort just days after Space Center Houston privately arranged to obtain an exhibition model of the shuttle known as Explorer from the Kennedy Space Center visitors' center."
Editorial: Identify JWST's Bill Payers, editorial, Space News
"... the Space Launch System, which per the House and Senate spending bills is slated to receive nearly $2 billion next year, is an appropriate bill payer for JWST. Given that NASA has no established exploration destination requiring the heavy-lift rocket on the schedule mandated by Congress, stretching out its development to help fund an observatory of undeniable scientific merit -- its substantial problems notwithstanding -- is a fair trade."
JWST and SLS: Dueling Giant Money Sponges, earlier post
"So, we have one giant money sponge (JWST) already sucking up dollars with yet another money sponge (SLS) on the drawing board. Since the money simply is not there to do either project to begin with, trying to do both of them together will devour funds from smaller NASA programs. It will also pit these money sponges' ever-growing chronic need for dollars against the other's similar insatiable appetite. And all of this will happen while the Federal budget is almost certainly going to be constrained - regardless of who wins the 2012 election. So, will someone explain to me how NASA is going to build and launch both JWST and SLS and have money left over to do all of the other things that it is both chartered to do - and directed to do - by Congress?"
Kennedy: Florida snipes at Virginia's launch market competition, Richmond Times DIspatch
"Virginia would never use an environmental study to seek to undermine the recently announced $38 billion American taxpayer-funded civil space rocket booster to launch from Florida's coast. The Space Florida effort is an abuse of federal environmental law process. Worse still, by seeking to deprive Virginia of space business investment and jobs, Space Florida makes clear its desire to establish a monopolistic space launch practice, thereby increasing costs. America needs business competition -- now more than ever. ... It is wrong for Space Florida to gain billions of dollars in federal civil space contracts while begrudging Virginia's right to secure commercial space launch jobs for the Eastern Shore facilities. It is wrong for Florida to seek hundreds of millions of dollars to enhance its space launch facilities while seeking to deny Virginia any small measure of opportunity."
"Enhancing the capabilities of WFF to allow NASA greater collaboration with other federal agencies is commendable and is to be encouraged. However, the potential development by NASA of not only duplicative, but also competing, launch infrastructure for orbital human spaceflight, funded in part by our tax dollars, gives the State of Florida standing in this federal process."
"The most pressing issue for the Florida workforce is the sense of betrayal that their tax dollars might be used in establishing a competing orbital human spaceflight launch capability in another state when they have so well and ably done the job here in Florida. It is recognized that commercial human spaceflight launch capabilities will arise throughout the country and elsewhere over time, but it makes no sense for NASA to be making such an investment."
Keith's note: It is blatantly obvious that Florida's space community is hijacking the intent of an Environmental Impact Statement to inject local and national politics and complaints that have nothing to do with environmental impact. Do these Florida-based organizations issue press releases about these letters? No. Do they post them on their own websites? No. Why? Becuase they know that this is a sneaky, somewhat slimy way to do things.
Former Florida shuttle workers still struggling to find jobs, Orlando Sentinel via Washington Post
"NASA officials predict the KSC workforce will number roughly 8,200 next year -- about half the 15,000 employed there in 2008. A few hundred contractors are giving the shuttles last rites before they, too, join their former colleagues in a brutal job market."
Kennedy Space Center to build new $300M HQ, Orlando Business Journal
"The project will "provide job potential through the design, engineering and construction to transition KSC from shuttles to new government and commercial vehicles," said Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast. "This complex keeps talent local and enhances our overall competitiveness on the global economic development stage."
"NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is looking to preserve an inventory of processing and manufacturing equipment for current and future mission support. This Request for Information (RFI) describes this equipment, currently underutilized as a result of the transition from the Space Shuttle Program to the future mission activities authorized by Congress. NASA KSC is seeking to identify potential industry interest in the operation and/or maintenance of this NASA property."
Houston delegation wants a new shot at shuttle, Houston Chronicle
"The museum does not own the land where it hopes to display the Enterprise, a parking lot across the busy West Side Highway owned by the New York State Department of Transportation. Nor does the museum have the zoning change that would be needed to build and operate a museum on land reserved for industrial manufacturing. "It's obvious New York was not ready as advertised," said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, whose district stretches to the northwestern suburbs of Houston."
"On 17 September 1976, NASA's space shuttle Enterprise rolled out of the Palmdale manufacturing facilities and was greeted by NASA officials and cast members from the 'Star Trek' television series. Today, Enterprise is on display at the Smithsonian."
"He awarded the shuttles using a point system that gave no points for connection to space despite its inclusion in the law. But gave 20 percent of all points to international access -- meaning how many international tourists could see the shuttle. That's nowhere in the law. "He essentially said, 'I care more about foreign tourists than I do about the community who built the shuttle,'" said Rep. Olsen. Even though we specifically asked why, NASA didn't answer. And on the one chance we had to ask Bolden about it, he pushed us back to Space Center Houston. "Go back to the folks at home and ask them what they got from their debrief," said Bolden. They told us they didn't get answers either. In fact, Space Center Houston was never asked how many international visitors they get and two of the winning sites -- New York and California -- don't even record where visitors are from."
"The Administrator's decision, while greeted with excitement at the chosen locations, was not well received in some quarters, particularly by members of Congress and others who supported Space Center Houston in Houston, Texas, and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force (Air Force Museum) in Dayton, Ohio. Members of these groups raised concerns that in making its selections NASA failed to follow the law or allowed politics to dictate the result. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) review examined these complaints and a variety of other issues related to placement of the Orbiters."
"Local officials and Congressmen insist the decision was politically motivated and accuse President Barack Obama's administration of excluding the Texas city because of the state's Republican leanings. They pointed to an initial finding in 2009 that determined Houston should get a shuttle. They accused NASA administrator Charles Bolden of deliberately changing the criteria to focus on areas that would attract international tourists rather than those with ties to the program so that he could exclude Houston. "It's clear to me this was rigged from the beginning and it was pretty clear Houston would not receive the Orbiter," GOP Congressman Kevin Brady told The Associated Press."
NASA to share telescope cost, Nature
"The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is perilously overbudget and under threat of cancellation, but Nature has learned that it may be offered a financial lifeline. The flagship observatory is currently funded entirely through NASA's science division; now NASA is requesting that more than US$1 billion in extra costs be shared 50:50 with the rest of the agency. The request reflects administrator Charles Bolden's view, expressed earlier this month, that the telescope is a priority not only for the science programme, but for the entire agency. NASA expects that the total cost of getting the 6.5-metre telescope to the launch pad by 2018 will be about $8 billion, around $1.5 billion more and three years later than an independent panel predicted in November 2010."
"The artifacts are not only from the shuttle era, but also from the Apollo, Mercury, Hubble Space Telescope programs. The approximately 2,000 items include: -- the Scott Carpenter Space Analog Station, an underwater habitat that was used to demonstrate space life support system ideas for use on space stations -- shuttle heat shield tiles used to test problems experienced during missions -- parts of Apollo and shuttle era spacesuits, including hard upper torso garments to protect astronauts from extreme temperatures."
Marc's Note: You can also purchase your very own Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA).
Space Shuttle Orbiters "Discovery" and "Endeavour" at Kennedy Space Center this morning adjacent to the Vehicle Assembly Building.
Keith's note: I do not think suicide is funny - under any circumstance. Yet this photo essay makes a point - and it uses a powerful iconic image of an anonymous person in a spacesuit in an exaggerated fashion to make that point. A lot of people are rather depressed and demoralized right now with the retirement of the Space Shuttle. Entire careers have come to an abrupt end. Yet some people (including the media) have gone overboard and are waving their arms around as if NASA itself is going to disappear - and that it is deliberatley doing this to itself. Some people see humor in this photo collection. I see sadness - sadness bordering on bad taste. Suicides are often a cry for help. Slide the bar under the image to scroll through the image collection and see for yourself.
Maybe someone could come up with a more inspiring version of this photo essay - one that points to the future ahead?
Jason Silverman's note: That Astronaut Suicides photo essay was pretty disturbing. You asked for something portraying the opposite viewpoint, and I thought of sending you this collage that I made this summer. It shows how much we have to look forward to in space over the coming decade. Larger view
"Majorities of U.S. voters disagree with the decision to end space shuttle missions and fear other nations might surpass the U.S. in space exploration. Also, future space exploration through both NASA and private companies is seen as preferable to either going it alone. The IBOPE Zogby interactive poll conducted from July 22-25 also shows 74% say the space shuttle was a worthwhile use of government resources. The final space shuttle mission ended with the safe landing of the Atlantis last week."
DOE, Interior Eye Employees Jettisoned by Space Program, New York Times
"The Energy Department and the Department of the Interior are among dozens of federal agencies looking to hire some of the engineers and scientists from NASA's closing space program. NASA and the Office of Personnel Management held a job fair yesterday in Cape Canaveral, Fla., less than a week after the space shuttle Atlantis landed. All told, about 5,500 contract employees at Florida's Kennedy Space Center have lost their jobs in recent months, and NASA contractors are expected to lay off another 2,000 over the next year. For an area nicknamed the "Space Coast," the end of the space program is a blow. But federal agencies are swooping in to take advantage of a pool of employees they say have skills that are usually hard to find."
"Unfortunately, with the final landing of the Shuttle Atlantis and no indication of plans for future missions, this administration has set a significantly different milestone by shutting down our nation's legacy of leadership in human spaceflight and exploration, leaving American astronauts with no alternative but to hitchhike into space."
Perry launches on Obama for cutting NASA, Dallas News
"... Perry went on to say that, "this administration has set a significantly different milestone by shutting down our nation's legacy of leadership in human spaceflight and exploration, leaving American astronauts with no alternative but to hitchhike into space." Actually, it was the Bush Administration that decided to end shuttle missions, and the Obama Administration extended the life of the shuttle program by adding two additional flights."
"The Shuttle's chief purpose over the next several years will be to help finish assembly of the International Space Station. In 2010, the Space Shuttle -- after nearly 30 years of duty -- will be retired from service."
"Mankind acknowledges the role of American space ships in exploring the cosmos," it added. But Roskosmos also used the occasion to tout the virtues of the Soyuz (Union) spacecraft, which unlike the shuttle lands on Earth vertically with the aid of parachutes after leaving orbit. It said that there was a simple answer to why the Soyuz was still flying after the shuttles retired -- "reliability and not to mention cost efficiency."
Keith's note: How nice of our friends at Roskosmos to rub our noses in their monopoly today. Oh well, we created this situation through both deliberate intent and bumbling over the past decade. Well played, comrades. Enjoy it while it lasts. By overcharging in the obscene, escalating fashion that you have done during our periods of need, you are sowing the seeds of your own demise by spurring lower cost alternatives. All too soon, American spacecraft will do everything Soyuz does - and more - and will do so much better - and cheaper.
Keith's update: Yea, in case you had not noticed, I am really pi**ed off by this whole situation and how the Russians (whose space program we overtly subsidized since the 1990s) are dancing in response to our bad decisions and crappy predicament. Oh well, it will be fun to watch Russia wiggle as China flies the real Soyuz upgrades - and then as SpaceX et al beat Russia and China on both price and performance.
"In addition, under the Commercial Crew Program, ULA is proud to be the launch vehicle of choice for Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser and Blue Origin's Space Vehicle, and compete to support Boeing's CST-100 program. Working together with NASA, these established companies and entrepreneurs plan to usher in a bold new era of human spaceflight; not only transporting NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, but opening spaceflight to non-government passengers for the first time."
"NASA's 30-year Space Shuttle Program has been more than just space exploration to Florida families, it's part of their history, it's their livelihoods, and it's been a source of inspiration for the tens of thousands of people who have supported its operations and have made their homes in our great state."
"The Obama Administration continues to lead federal agencies and programs astray, this time forcing NASA away from its original purpose of space exploration, and ignoring its groundbreaking past and enormous future potential. It is time to restore NASA to its core purpose of manned space exploration, and to define our vision for 21st Century space exploration, not in terms of what we cannot do, but instead in terms of what we will do."
"This unprecedented view of the space shuttle Atlantis, appearing like a bean sprout against clouds and city lights, on its way home, was photographed by the Expedition 28 crew of the International Space Station. Airglow over Earth can be seen in the background."
"At 5:57:54 a.m EDT the orbiter Atlantis came to a wheels stop at the Kennedy Space Center runway 15 marking the end of the Space Shuttle era."
"At today's final landing of the space shuttle, we had the rare opportunity to witness history. We turned the page on a remarkable era and began the next chapter in our nation's extraordinary story of exploration."
"The brave astronauts of STS-135 are emblematic of the shuttle program -- skilled professionals from diverse backgrounds who propelled America to continued leadership in space with the shuttle's many successes," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This final shuttle flight marks the end of an era, but today, we recommit ourselves to continuing human spaceflight and taking the necessary- and difficult - steps to ensure America's leadership in human spaceflight for years to come."
Planetary Society Statement On the End of the Space Shuttle Program, Planetary Society
"Mission accomplished! It's been thirty great years for the Space Shuttle program. With this venerable space vehicle retired, it's on to the next adventure.
"The Space Shuttle has taken more than 10,400 tons into orbit, a fantastic legacy, as most of that equipment is still up there helping astronauts do their jobs. But now it's time to move up and on -- outward. We can make new discoveries peering beyond new horizons."
Former NASA chief Griffin now wants to save the shuttle, Houston Chronicle
"In his e-mail, Griffin writes:
"At this point I'm in agreement with Dr. Kraft ... In a world of limited budgets, I was willing to retire the shuttle as the price of getting a follow-on system that could allow us to establish a manned lunar base. Not that my opinion matters, but I see no sense in retiring the shuttle in favor of nothing. That is beyond foolish."
It's a pretty stunning reversal from the man who, just a few years ago, couldn't get rid of the shuttle soon enough."
Keith's note: Mike Griffin and his self-described "band of brothers" often referred to the Space Shuttle as an "albatross" and was indeed in a big hurry for it to go away. He seemed to have little worry that the "gap" that he so despised grew rather healthily under his tenure. Now that his self-described "Apollo on Steroids" architecture collapsed under its own flawed engineering and program execution, he's suddenly a space shuttle advocate.
That's the problem with steroids, Mike: they affect both your memory and your judgement.
Transcript of President Obama's Call to the International Space Station (with video)
"President Obama: Well, this mission marks the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program and also ushers in an exciting new era, to push the frontiers of space exploration and human spaceflight. You guys will continue to operate, or crew members like you will continue to operate the ISS in coming years, and seek to use it to advance scientific research and technology development. I've tasked NASA with an ambitious new mission to develop the systems and space technologies that are going to be necessary to conduct exploration beyond Earth, and ultimately sending humans to Mars, which is obviously no small feat, but I know we're going to be up to the task."
Keith's note: On Friday President Obama will call the crews of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station from the Oval Office starting at 12:29 pm EDT.
Keith's update: During his call to the orbiting Space Shuttle Atlantis and International Space Station crews today, President Obama mentioned that a special American Flag had been carried to orbit on board Atlantis - a flag that had been carried aboard Columbia during STS-1. According to STS-135 Commander Chris Ferguson, this flag will be left on board the ISS until the next crew of Americans is launched from American soil aboard a commercial spacecraft. The President joked that this is going to become sort of a "capture the flag" game for the commercial spaceflight industry. Shortly thereafter SpaceX tweeted "SpaceX commencing flag capturing sequence..."
And thus the game begins.
"The 10 crew members aboard space shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station will hold a news conference at 8:24 a.m. CDT on Friday, July 15. NASA Television will provide live coverage of the 40-minute news conference."
"If there is one thing I'd say [to policymakers] it is that we need to focus our efforts. I'd appeal to Congress to focus on the long term. They need to look at the horizon - look out 10 years and see where they want the nation to be. We need a coherent space policy that will take us 10 to 15 years out - a decadal plan - and then make it a law so that we have to follow it so that Congress and future administrations are obliged to follow the policy that we, as a nation, have set forth."
According to email@example.com: "The LCS SE&I group celebrated the launch of STS-135 with homemade Italian bread and cold cuts!! Checkout this work of art!!"
"The crew's All American menu begins with crackers, brie cheese and sausage."
Keith's note: Brie cheese? Wikipedia says: "Brie is a soft cow cheese named after Brie, the French region from which it originated (roughly corresponding to the modern dpartement of Seine-et-Marne)." Gee, that doesn't sound "all-American" to me. Duh - why not serve "American cheese"? Wikipedia says: "American cheese is used in American cuisine, for example on cheeseburgers, in grilled cheese sandwiches, and in macaroni and cheese".
Yes, it is a slow news day.
This photo shows Space Shuttle Atlantis punching a hole in the sky on its way to orbit. The image was taken on 8 July 2011 from a high altitude balloon flown by students and volunteers at Quest For Stars. Larger image here. Additional photos from STS-135 and earlier shuttle missions can be found here.
"After a heart-stopping pause at T-31 seconds, Space Shuttle Atlantis left Earth and leapt above the sky this morning. This is the last time a space shuttle will ever do this - and everyone in attendance at the launch site knew it.
Up until a short time before launch gloomy weather forecasts had left a sense of doubt among all who gathered here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Half an hour or so before the scheduled launch time the weather suddenly started to improve - and with it, the crowd's expectations.
I am not going to write about all the geeky stuff. Everyone else is doing that."
With a 70% chance of a weather violation the Space Shuttle Atlantis beat the odds and thrilled close to a million gathered people who waited hours to see the final launch of a Space Shuttle. Main engine cut-off and external tank separation have just occurred.
Update: Watch the final launch again on the next page.
End of shuttle program doesn't mean end of American leadership in spaceflight, Dana Rohrabacher, The Hill
"Now, as we celebrate the accomplishments of the space shuttle, we look forward to blazing that new trail, one which will finally bring us closer to achieving the real dreams and true promise of the space shuttles: inexpensive, reliable, safe human spaceflight. This transformation won't take place overnight. NASA, Congress and others still have the power to get in the way and create a self-fulfilling prophecy by preventing it from happening, at least in this country. We will only lose America's leadership in human spaceflight if we prevent the free market from pursuing multiple, independent launchers and vehicles."
"As things stand right now weather is the only thing standing in the way of an otherwise flawless countdown for the last Space Shuttle mission. No technical issues are being tracked except for some air conditioner problems in a building in Houston. In other words, this has been "textbook" thus far from the hardware point of view."
7 July update: As torrential showers descend upon Kennedy Space Center, concerns linger as to whether conditions tomorrow at this time will permit a launch to occur. As has been the case in the past bad weather can suddenly yield a favorable window. At this time NASA seems to be intent upon going ahead with the countdown in case this opportunity arises. If weather forces a scrub odds are that there will be 48 hour delay with an attempt on Sunday. A GPS launch currently has the range reserved between 11-5 July and NASA is looking at ways to possibly get 11 July from them.
Atlantis' final launch inspires bittersweet celebration, Orlando Sentinel
"Bittersweet is the exact right word," said Titusville Mayor Jim Tulley, who retired from a career with shuttle contractors Lockheed and United Space Alliance. "For the people being laid off, it's a little more bitter than sweet. We're going to look back at this program with just an incredible sense of pride." But first, it's time to party, with celebrations starting Wednesday evening in downtown Titusville, and running through the day and all night Thursday, right up to Friday's 11:26 a.m. launch."
"Soon-to-be-jobless space workers and those who've already lost their jobs are now competing for work in a labour market where more than one in 10 is unemployed. And the Space Coast is still reeling from the housing crisis, making it tougher for workers to sell their homes and move elsewhere for a job. 'Everything is taking a turn for the worst, it seems like,' said Kevin Smith, local president of the union for space centre firefighters, paramedics and workers at emergency landing sites. 'What little is out there, everybody is competing for.'
"The loss of space technology jobs means the loss of very high paid jobs" Fishkind told WMFE, "so it has larger than normal consequences for the area's economy." He said the loss of so many high wage jobs is having a larger multiplier or "ripple" effect across the entire economic landscape. Still, he thinks Brevard County is better prepared now than it was when the Apollo program shut down in the early 1970s.
Behind the scenes of launch preparations: Massive job losses, Houston Chronicle
"Today NASA is down to 5,500 contractor employees and 1,200 civil servants working on the shuttle, said program manager John Shannon. That's a total of 6,700 people who process the shuttle and support it during flight. If the shuttle launches July 8, as expected, another big layoff will come on July 22. At that time NASA will lay off about 3,200 contractors, Shannon said."
"The space shuttle was sold to America as cheap, safe and reliable. It was none of those. It cost $196 billion over 40 years, ended the lives of 14 astronauts and managed to make less than half the flights promised. Yet despite all that, there were some big achievements that weren't promised: major scientific advances, stunning photos of the cosmos, a high-flying vehicle of diplomacy that helped bring Cold War enemies closer, and something to brag about."
"Our community is going to lose the gift of hundreds of thousands of hotel rooms that we didn't really have to work very hard to fill," said Thompson. With the last launch, the town's identity will slip a little further into the past. "For me, it's probably going to be a lot of joy and a lot of sorrow all at the same time," said Socks, who knows when the tourists depart this time, all that will be left is a suddenly, shockingly empty sky.
As shuttle era ends, questions loom for shrinking astronaut corps, Washington Post
"The agency's vaunted astronaut corps, trained to withstand high acceleration, dangerous spacewalks, isolation and countless technical hiccups, now confronts a challenge with no handy checklist: the unknown."
"As the clock ticks down to this week's final space shuttle launch, there is a mounting sense of uncertainty about future U.S. dominance in space."
NASA's space shuttle program ends this month: Does anybody care?, San Jose Mercury News
"For the past 30 years, NASA's space shuttles have served as the primary vehicles for our collective out-of-this-world imagination. Though only venturing into low-Earth orbit -- a mere 250 miles to the International Space Station, not much farther than a drive from the Bay Area to Pismo Beach -- shuttles kept a solid American foot in the doorway to more. But somewhere along the way "astronaut" became just another career. And shuttle expeditions became so routine, the general public often didn't know when a craft was in orbit or not."
Final NASA shuttle mission clouded by rancor, Washington Post
"NASA's critics say the human spaceflight program is in a shambles. They see arm-waving and paperwork rather than a carefully defined mission going forward. NASA has lots of plans, but it has no new rocket ready to launch, no specific destination selected, and no means in the near term to get American astronauts into space other than by buying a seat on one of Russia's aging Soyuz spacecraft."
Images: STS-135 Crew Arrives in Florida, Ken Kremer, SpaceRef
The Last Space Shuttle Crew jeted into the Kennedy Space Center on Independence Day, 2011. From Left: Shuttle Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim.
"To maintain this vital life safety margin for long-term ISS operations we are requesting the following: ... To avoid any gap in providing independent repair spacewalks as a safety contingency for the space station, Congress, NASA and the ISS partners should evaluate the option of postponing the launch of STS - 135 until more external fuel tanks and other parts can be built to support additional shuttle flights in 2012."
Final NASA shuttle mission clouded by rancor, Washington Post
"Garver and other administration officials are getting heat from some of the most famous astronauts on the planet, not to mention members of Congress and aerospace industry executives. Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, and someone never known to be a rabble-rouser, recently co-wrote with fellow Apollo astronauts Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan an op-ed in USA Today declaring that the space policy of the Obama administration is in "substantial disarray." The astronauts protested the decision to kill the Constellation program, the George W. Bush-era plan for a new lunar mission with new rockets and spacecraft."
"Last week, former astronaut John Glenn expressed his unhappiness with the end of the shuttle program. Glenn called it "ridiculous" and says he has objected to the cancellation since President George W. Bush made the announcement back in 2004. "I'm sorry to see things being cut back or diminished in any way, because I think the country needs research and innovation now more than ever before," Glenn said. "Owning and operating lower-orbit transportation is not in the best interest of the nation," Bolden said of the shuttle program."
Keith's note: The timing of this letter and editorial effort by these folks is odd to say the least. The authors wait until the last possible moment and then expect the White House, NASA, and Congress to suddenly do a 180 degree course change in policy - with all of the associated and unbudgeted costs - 6 to 7 years after that policy was announced and agreed to by all parties.
Atlantis: The Grand Finale Photo Special at Launch Pad 39A Part 2, Ken Kremer, SpaceRef
"It was both relentlessly breathtaking and surreal to find oneself at a historic crossroads - looking skywards from directly beneath the wings of the very last shuttle orbiter that will soon be orbiting Earth some two hundred miles overhead. NASA's Space Shuttle's are the most complex and magnificent machine built by humans, constructed with over two and a half million moving parts."
Into the sunset, Economist
"Disasters apart, the shuttle generally succeeded in at least one aspect of its mission: its regular launches (not to mention stunts such as flying a 77-year-old astronaut, and assorted senators and congressmen) made space travel seem routine, almost mundane--which helped to dampen public interest."
The end of the Space Age, Economist
"But the shuttle is now over. The ISS is due to be de-orbited, in the inelegant jargon of the field, in 2020. Once that happens, the game will be up. There is no appetite to return to the moon, let alone push on to Mars, El Dorado of space exploration. The technology could be there, but the passion has gone--at least in the traditional spacefaring powers, America and Russia."
"The Grand Finale of NASA's three decade long Space Shuttle program is less than two weeks away. Recently NASA allowed reporters unprecedented access to photograph the Space Shuttle Atlantis while it waits on the pad. Here is part one."
"Space shuttle Atlantis' Commander Chris Ferguson and his three crewmates are scheduled to begin a 12-day mission to the International Space Station with a launch at 11:26 a.m. EDT on July 8, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-135 mission is the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program. The launch date was announced Tuesday at the conclusion of a flight readiness review at Kennedy. During the meeting, senior NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle and station's equipment, support systems and personnel are ready."
Keith's note: Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach recently spoke his mind (audio file) as Shuttle Discovery was being prepared for launch - the last time anyone will prepare a Space Shuttle for launch. "We're all victims of poor policy out of Washington, DC - both at the NASA level and the executive branch of the government. ... I'm embarrassed that we don't have better guidance out of Washington, DC. Throughout the history of the manned spaceflight program we've always had another program to transition into. .. we had that and it got cancelled and we don't have anything ... frankly as a senior NASA manager I would like to apologize that we don't have that."
Let's see, NASA is still building Constellation's Orion (MPCV) human spacecraft, is about to announce its new SLS heavy launch vehicle design (pretty much an Ares -V variant), and SpaceX is gearing up to launch humans and cargo to the ISS aboard Dragon spacecraft a few miles away from Leinbach's office with NASA as a customer. Yes, its the end of this particular government-operated human space flight program and a lot of people will be laid off (despite working their butts off for years), but it is rather inaccurate for Leinbach to state that "we don't have anything".
NASA abandoned the Saturn V because trips to the Moon were over and the Space Shuttle was to be used to build things in low Earth orbit. The ISS is now completed, so the continued rationale for the shuttle is a hard case to make. Now we need a way to use the ISS with vehicles better suited to the task - at a price lower than NASA can do on its own while getting ready for what comes after ISS.
Despite the steady progression from one program to the next that Leinbach suggests, he forgets to mention that there was a 6 year gap between the Apollo-Soyuz flight and STS-1. Dragon will be flying people much sooner than 6 years - and certainly much sooner than NASA's Ares 1 would have flown crews in Orion.
Things change Mike. The shuttle's retirement was announced 7 years ago. This is not exactly a surprise.
"During the tanking test, the main fuel valve for Atlantis' No. 3 space shuttle main engine recorded temperatures below normal levels, indicating a possible liquid hydrogen leak. Teams isolated the engine and continued to fuel Atlantis with no issues and temperatures returned to normal readings. Technicians can gain access to the engine area once it is cleared from tanking test operations, and engineers will evaluate any necessary work on the fuel valve. If the valve needs to be replaced, managers expect that the work could be done early next week at the pad and still support Atlantis' July 8 target launch date."
Last Ever Shuttle to Haul Raffaello Logistics Module to the International Space Station, Ken Kremer for SpaceRef
"The primary goal of the STS-135 flight is to haul the "Raffaello" multipurpose logistics module (MPLM) up to the International Space Station. The 21 foot long cylindrical module is mounted inside the shuttle cargo bay during launch and landing.
Raffaello is a space 'moving van' and loaded with some 12 tons of critical supplies, spare parts and science equipment to stock up the station before the shuttles are retired forever, despite the fact that they have many years of service life remaining."
Boeing lays off 260 shuttle workers in Houston, Houston Chronicle
"Boeing today sent layoff notices to 510 employees - including 260 in Houston - involved in space shuttle work. The notices give 60 days advance notice of an expected job elimination. The workers' last day would be Aug. 5, pending the completion of the final space shuttle mission, STS-135. Boeing said in a statement that is working to keep as many workers as possible by moving employees to program such as the International Space Station work."
Boeing plans to lay off 150, Florida Today
"The Boeing Co. will lay off 150 of its 515 remaining Kennedy Space Center workers on Aug. 5. The layoffs would come later if the final shuttle launch, scheduled for July 8, is delayed. Nationwide, 510 Boeing employees were issued layoff notices Friday, including 260 employees in Houston and 100 in Huntington Beach, Calif." What goes up, also comes down: Space Shuttle jobs ending, Washington Post
"[John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management] said OPM will sponsor a job fair in Cocoa, Fla. in late July, which will include training on seeking positions listed on USAJOBS.gov. Also, NASA has created a Web site, www.jobsforaerospaceworkers.com, where federal agencies can post jobs and "find additional information about the skills of the available workforce."
"And now there is only one. With Wednesday's landing of Endeavour, just one more space shuttle flight remains, putting an end to 30 years of Florida shuttle launches and more than 535 million miles of orbits controlled at Houston's Johnson Space Center. Now a sense of melancholy has permeated the community that calls itself "the space shuttle family."
"Space shuttle Endeavour and its six-astronaut crew sailed home for the final time, ending a 16-day journey of more than 6.5 million miles with a landing at 2:35 a.m. EDT on Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. STS-134 was the last mission for the youngest of NASA's space shuttle fleet. Since 1992, Endeavour flew 25 missions, spent 299 days in space, orbited Earth 4,671 times and traveled 122,883,151 miles."
"A portion of the International Space Station is visible in these views of a starry sky and Earth's horizon, photographed by an STS-134 crew member while space shuttle Endeavour remains docked with the station."
"I got up early today to see the ISS and Endeavour fly over my house. Its always cool to see them flying in formation like this. This morning's viewing was at 4:48 am low in the North, so I was not sure I'd see things due to the brightening sky. As the two vehicles approached from due West I could only make out one fast moving light. But as the viewing geometry improved I was rewarded with two almost equally bright lights moving in clear association with one another - albeit briefly. Then the trees blocked my view. (My graphic is an attempt to draw what I saw.)
While I was waiting there for the flyby I thought back the film "The Right Stuff" where a group of wise aborigines ponders the night sky while sparks fly up from a fire. I wondered what sort of cosmology a modern stone age tribe in Borneo isolated from the rest of the world would think of all these lights in the sky moving in ways our ancestors would never have seen. Imagine what sort of cosmology they might have created to explain such lights."
Note: This video was sent to me by a reader after they read my original article: "Here's what you may have seen this morning - the Shuttle Endeavour leads the ISS, at about 4:50am (EDT) this morning. This handheld video was taken with my Canon S5-IS, with a maximum 12X optical zoom. It may not be "broadcast quality" but is presented as a tribute to the last flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour.- Michael Kowalchuk Ferdinand, IN"
"Update: Photos of several STS-134 astronauts eating a STEM bar aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour have been released."
12 Space Shuttle Missions That Weren't, IEEE Spectrum
"The U.S. space shuttle fleet is set for retirement following the launch of Atlantis, scheduled for mid-July. In all, the fleet will have flown 135 missions, the first in 1981, but there were many more on the drawing board. With scrubbed missions that included daring rescues, in-orbit satellite snatches, and dangerous explosives, you can see why some of these didn't make the cut. But just imagine if they had."
"These new, crystal clear high-definition videos shot from the Endeavour's Solid Rocket Boosters provide a stunning view of what it is like to launch into space."
"Photographed from a shuttle training aircraft, space shuttle Endeavour and its six-member STS-134 crew head toward Earth orbit and rendezvous with the International Space Station."
"The nine crew members aboard space shuttle Endeavour and the International Space Station will hold a news conference starting at 5:42 a.m. EDT on Thursday, May 26. Reporters may ask questions in person from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Kennedy Space Center in Florida and agency headquarters in Washington."
Keith's note: Less than 24 hours notice about this crew presser (how many weeks have they known about this?) and at 5:42 am EDT? That's 4:42 am in Houston and 2:42 am on the west coast. I guess there is not a lot of interest in having U.S. media participate - or be awake when doing so ... and then NASA complains when things like this don't get adequate (or quality) media coverage? Gee, I wonder why.
Keith's note: To be fair the crew is more or less working overnight U.S. time. But the ISS crew is not - you can see it in the daily schedules. And the ISS/Shuttle complex is rather large i.e.
"NASA announced the winners of its "Original Song Contest" after six weeks of public voting. The songs will awaken the STS-134 astronauts aboard space shuttle Endeavour during their ongoing mission. "Sunrise Number 1" by Jorge Otero and the band Stormy Mondays from Oviedo, Spain, earned first place. Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Greg H. Johnson, Mission Specialists Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel, Greg Chamitoff and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency will hear the song at 5:56 p.m. EDT on May 31 - the day before the crew returns to Earth. "Sunrise Number 1" received 787,725 votes, or 49.8 percent of the total ballots."
"NASA/HQ has a requirement for an ensemble by The Space Philharmonic group to perform a symphonic concert in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Human Space Flight: The Kennedy Legacy scheduled to take place on May 25th, 2011."
"NASA/HQ has a requirement for a venue and associated services to host a free concert in honor of NASA's 50th Anniversary of U.S. Human Spaceflight: "The Kennedy Legacy" scheduled to take place on May 25th, 2011. NASA/HQ intends to purchase the items from John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts pursuant to FAR 13.106, for the acquisition of supplies or services determined to be reasonably available from only one source."
Keith's 11 May note: Of course, the only tickets available in advance for this exclusive, yet-to-be-announced event will probably only be available to VIPs, NASA employees and their families (that's the standard procedure). As for the cost of this exclusive concert? Who knows. NASA now takes 6+ months to respond to FOIA requests, so that is a waste of time. P.S. the operative word in this solicitation is actually spelled "Philharmonic".
This Kennedy Center event on 25 May 2011: NASA presents: Human Spaceflight: The Kennedy Legacy notes: "This is a FREE event; reserved seating tickets are required. Tickets will be distributed, two (2) per person in line, beginning at 5 p.m. in the Hall of Nations on the day of the performance. Please note that free parking isNOT available when picking up free tickets or attending free performances." But of course NASA will already have the lion's share of these tickets handed out in advance, thus forcing everyone else to drive into town, park (at their own expense) and then wait in line for hours for a chance to get tickets. Why not try doing this online? Nah. That's too 21st century. And will they webcast the event? Its not listed on the NASA TV schedule.
Keith's 23 May update: According to NASA PAO, this is mostly an employee-only event with tickets distributed to various divisions and directorates at NASA HQ. 1,000 or so tickets will be available to the public albeit at the last minute - you show up a few hours before the event for the chance to get a ticket. These restrictions come from the Kennedy Center - and the Kennedy Center is donating the use of their facilities. Media will be invited (short notice on that too) but will face limited recording time of the actual performance due to union rules - and those union rules for the musicians will not allow NASA to broadcast the event in any way. No word on what this event cost - yet. Too bad NASA could not have chosen an event that was more accesible to the rest of the agency's employees as well as the public who pays for all of these events. They have known about this event for weeks - still no public (official) mention.
Keith's 23 May update: The Kennedy Center has changed their website to read "This is a FREE event; reserved seating tickets are required, but have limited availability. Tickets are available through the Presenter only. Contact NASA Guest Operations, 202-358-1750 for more information. Please note that free parking is NOT available when picking up free tickets or attending free performances."
Alan Ladwig just posted this on Facebook: "NASA is sponsoring an event at the Kennedy Ctr, Wed, 5/25 to commemorate the 50th Anniver of Human Spaceflight & JFK's challenge to go to Moon. Event is at Concert Hall from 7:00 - 8:30 pm & features the Space Philharmonic Orchestra. The Center just turned over all the tickets they were going to distribute to the public so we have available seats. If interested let me know pronto."
Keith's 23 May update: NASA Honors Human Spaceflight Achievements at Kennedy Center Concert
"A limited number of tickets is available for the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. To attend the free event, please contact NASA Guest Operations at 202-358-1750. Tickets for those who RSVP will be available at NASA's Will Call tables, which will be staffed in front of the Concert Hall (in the Grand Foyer) from 5-6:45 p.m. Wednesday."
"This past Wednesday the orbiter Atlantis was lifted and mated to her external tank and solid rocket boosters in preparation for her final flight and the programs last shuttle flight. A tentative date of July 8th at approximately 11:40 am EDT has been set for the last ever shuttle launch."
"These views of space shuttle Endeavour was provided by an Expedition 27 crew member during a survey of the approaching STS-134 vehicle prior to docking with the International Space Station. As part of the survey and part of every mission's activities, Endeavour performed a back-flip for the rendezvous pitch maneuver (RPM). The image was photographed with a digital still camera, using a 400mm lens at a distance of about 600 feet (180 meters)."
Preparations were made today to begin mating Space Shuttle Atlantis with its External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters.
"As Atlantis entered the VAB workers posed behind it with the banner "We're Behind You, Atlantis" and then a few of them pulled out what appeared to be a quilt with all the mission patches sewn on it."
Atlantis Leaves Orbiter Processing Facility #1 (with photos), SpaceRef
"The day after Space Shuttle Endeavour launched from the Kennedy Space Center the last orbiter to ever fly, Atlantis, was moved from the Orbiter Processing Facility #1 to the Vehicle Assembly Building for mating with her external tank."
Keith's note: Yes, that is indeed the steady, iconic voice of George Diller doing the countdown.
"The helium-filled balloon carrying the "Senatobia-1" payload will be launched from the vicinity of Gainesville, Florida. The expected balloon launch time is on Monday, 16 May between 7:30 to 7:45 am EDT. This will allow the balloon and its payload to be in position at an altitude of approximately 100,000 feet for Endeavour's supersonic transit of the stratosphere beginning with a planned liftoff at 8:56 am EDT. If there is a delay in the launch of Endeavour the Quest for Stars team is ready to try again - several times - on subsequent days."
Keith's note: If all goes according to plan we will have live video from the balloon as Senatobia-1 ascends to catch Endeavour. Video feeds and tracking links here. Launch site feed begins at 7:15 am EDT. This is the projected flight path.
Keith's note: On board today are photos of Baruch Blumberg and Bob Clark. Launch is now planned for 7:39 am EDT.
Keith's note: The balloon burst at 95,000 ft - very close to target altitude of 100,000 ft - and the payload is now parachuting nominally toward landing.
"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But hard as they tried, nobody else ever got it right. The development of the Soviet Buran shuttle, which flew only once and without a crew, nearly brought the Soviet program to its knees. The French Hermes and Japanese Hope spaceplane designs never lifted off of their respective drawing boards. Our soon-to-be-scuttled shuttle stands as a symbol of American ingenuity, know-how, persistence and greatness. No other vehicle past, present or currently contemplated for the future even comes close to her capability and elegant beauty."
"The shuttle Mission Management Team is giving space shuttle Endeavour's launch team the green light to continue the countdown for Monday's 8:56 a.m. EDT liftoff. The MMT met this afternoon at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and reviewed how launch preparations for Endeavour's STS-134 mission are progressing. During a news conference on NASA Television following the MMT, Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach said the countdown is going extremely well and the team is ready to go."
"High school entrepreneurs Mikayla and Shannon Diesch, winners of the 2010 Conrad Foundation Spirit of Innovation Awards, will be at the launch of STS-134 as they watch Endeavour journey to the International Space Station with their newly developed STEM Bar aboard. Since winning the 2010 competition, the Diesch sisters have continued to develop the nutrition bar concept for use as a tool to inspire their peers to study science, technology engineering and math and seek careers in aerospace. Team AM Rocks including team members, Ethan Rutherford, Naomi Joseph and the Diesch sisters, created Solar Flare: the Star bar and won the 2010 Spirit of Innovation Awards. This concept was the catalyst for the development of the STEM bar, which is launching on Endeavour Monday."
"NASA managers met Friday afternoon and determined space shuttle Endeavour will launch no earlier than Monday, May 16 at 8:56 a.m. EDT. This weekend, technicians will continue to repair and retest electrical circuitry that caused a postponement of Endeavour's April 29 launch attempt. NASA will air a news conference Monday at 3 p.m., to discuss the status of the work."
"The Space Shuttle Program Mission Management Team voted unanimously to proceed toward Endeavour's scheduled liftoff at 3:47 p.m. EDT Friday. Mike Moses, chair of the Prelaunch Mission Management team, reported that it was a very short meeting and everything is in great shape and ready to go."
"NASA invited 150 lucky people to a behind-the-scenes perspective from the press site at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the final launch of space shuttle Endeavour on Friday, April 29. The launch is scheduled for 3:47 p.m. EDT."
Making Do With a Plywood Spaceship, New York Times
"Q. What was your response when NASA announced its decision?
A. A shuttle would have been our first choice. I won't pretend we're not disappointed, but we're moving forward.
Q. What are the plans for the Space Gallery?
A. We will have a full-size mockup of the space shuttle -- a full fuselage shuttle trainer. It looks exactly like the shuttle except that it doesn't have wings. One advantage is that because it is not a priceless artifact like the shuttle, we'll be able to use it for educational purposes. Some people, but not everyone, will be able to go inside. They won't be able to do that with the shuttles. The trainer is about the size of a 747. The tail is 56 feet high. From the outside it will look exactly like the shuttle except for the wings."
Keith's note: I predict that the Seattle folks will create an experience for visitors that will eclipse all others - even those that use real orbiters. Imagination can often trump reality. Seattle has that. Houston: take note.
"At today's NASA pre-countdown briefing NASA Test Director Jeremy Graeber said that there currently is no technical issues while a potential severe thunder storm coming through Thursday is the only issue at this time that could delay the shuttle launch."
Wings In Orbit: An Inside Look at the Shuttle, Aviation Week
"Published by the Johnson Space Center and the Government Printing Office, Wings In Orbit is scheduled for an April 8 release through major book stores, including Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, as well as at http://www.shopNASA.com."
Keith's 26 April note: This book is finally online. No one at PAO bothered to tell me despite repeated email inquiries and a FOIA request. Instead, a NASA Watch reader came across this link. As such, one would expect that PAO will not tell anyone about this link - and no one will know about it since you still cannot actually buy physical copies of this book. Another chance to inform/serve the public is going to be wasted.
Transcendence Splashes Down, New York Magazine
"It is objectively no small feat, slipping the surly bonds of Earth. But somehow, over its 30 years of existence, NASA's Space Shuttle program has become roughly as thrilling as the Delta Shuttle. Still, there's something sad about the end of the program, which will officially shut down after Endeavour's 25th and final mission, on April 29, and one last there-and-back by Space Shuttle Atlantis in June. It's not so much that the program's increasingly prosaic missions--they have amounted, in recent years, to something like space carpooling--will be missed. The sadness instead comes from the petering out of space travel's promised transcendence."
With 'Coolest Job Ever' Ending, Astronauts Seek Next Frontier, New York Times
"What happens when you have the right stuff at the wrong time? Members of NASA's astronaut corps have been asking just that, now that the space shuttle program is ending and their odds of flying anywhere good anytime soon are getting smaller. The Endeavour is scheduled to launch this week, and the Atlantis is supposed to fly the last shuttle mission in June -- and all the seats are spoken for. "Morale is pretty low," said Leroy Chiao, a former astronaut who now works for a company that wants to offer space flights for tourists. "This is a time of great uncertainty."
Keith's note: According to a knowledegable government source the entire First Family will probably be attending the launch of STS-134 next week.
Obama to reporter: 'Let me finish my answers' next time, The Oval (with video)
"Obama also bristled at claims that is administration skipped Houston in the award of space shuttle orbiters and favored states that could help his re-election. "That's wrong," the president stated. "That had nothing to do with it; the White House had nothing to do with it." When Watson persisted, Obama said, "I just said that was wrong," and, later, "I just said that wasn't true."
"For Houston the benefits have been enormous, from basic economic development in the southeast part of the city, to the benefits of a large and talented workforce on our communities, to the cachet of housing and training the world's astronauts. With all that being said, nearly $200 billion is a lot of coin for science and technology. Was it money well spent?"
Shuttle programme lifetime cost, Nature
"The US Congress and NASA spent more than US$192 billion (in 2010 dollars) on the shuttle from 1971 to 2010. The agency launched 131 flights; two ended in tragedy with the loss of Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003. During the operational years from 1982 to 2010, the average cost per launch was about $1.2 billion. Over the life of the programme, this increases to about $1.5 billion per launch."
"It is our hope that politics did not play a role in this historic decision. If there is no rational explanation based on definable factors for the choice of the Intrepid museum in New York City, and that the transfer of the Enterprise to that location will cost significantly more than a transfer to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, we will do everything in our power in Congress, including legislation to prevent funding of the transfer, to stop this wasteful decision."
"The NASA contractor responsible for most of the work of maintaining the space shuttles announced Friday (April 15) that it will have to lay off almost 50 percent of its employees - up to 2,800 workers - after the shuttle program shuts down this year."
Shuttle prime contractor details major layoffs, SpaceflightNow
"Through earlier layoffs and attrition, USA's workforce in Florida, Texas and Alabama has dropped from around 10,500 in October 2009 to a current level of around 5,600. In late July or early August, the company will implement another major workforce reduction, affecting between 2,600 and 2,800 employees across the company. Of that total, 1,850 to 1,950 job losses are expected in Florida, 750 to 800 in Texas and 30 to 40 in Alabama."
"USA currently employs approximately 5,600 employees at its Florida, Texas and Alabama sites. The reduction in force will affect multiple disciplines and multiple organizations across the company. The reduction is expected to impact between 2600-2800 company-wide, including 1850-1950 employees in Florida, 750-800 employees in Texas, and 30-40 in Alabama."
"Two Texas lawmakers, upset that Houston was not picked as one of the retirement homes for NASA's space shuttles, introduced legislation [H.R. 1590] Friday that would bring the Discovery shuttle to the city for 15 years."
No retired shuttle for Houston? Not without a fight, Florida Today
"U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said he heard an outcry -- "Earth to NASA" -- from congressional colleagues who thought the home of Mission Control and the Astronaut Corps was snubbed in its failed bid to land an orbiter. So Chaffetz introduced a bill [H.R. 1536] that seeks "to restore common sense and fairness to the space shuttle retirement home debate.""
Houston says NY shouldn't get shuttle; NY says it isn't, Seattle Post Intelligencer
"When the United States won the race to the moon in 1969, the first word on the moon was, 'Houston,' not 'New York City,'" [Rep.] Poe ranted on the House floor after Tuesday's NASA announcement, referring to the fact that mission control is in Houston, which is also where astronauts train."
"The Enterprise didn't have an engine and never went on a space mission. After all those months of press conferences, photo ops and lobbying, the best Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand could get us was a prototype. What's worse is that L.A. is getting a real one: The Endeavour. Where are they gonna put it, Disneyland? And someplace called Chantilly, Va., gets the Discovery."
"But to use another Texas phase, "that dog won't hunt," Poe's efforts to derail the shuttle wont work according to New York Sen. Schumer. "I would say to Congressman Poe what we say in Brooklyn, 'fuhgettaboutit,'" Schumer told Kramer."
Why Houston Did Not Get A Shuttle, Wayne Hale
"Immediate reaction from many people in the Houston area was that the Orbiter disposition decision was politically tainted. For example, this was the explanation of my old Rice classmate Annise Parker, her honor the Mayor of Houston. Maybe there is some truth to that. It's hard to say what goes on inside the Washington beltway with any certainty. But my suspicions lie closer to home. Houston didn't get an orbiter because Houston didn't deserve it."
"After 30 years of spaceflight, more than 130 missions, and numerous science and technology firsts, NASA's space shuttle fleet will retire and be on display at institutions across the country to inspire the next generation of explorers and engineers."
Space Shuttle to Land in Manhattan, NY Times
"A space shuttle is coming to Manhattan, but not one of the three that have carried astronauts into orbit. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is getting the fourth shuttle, the Enterprise, according to a person who had been briefed on the decision."
"Seattle's Museum of Flight won't be home to a space shuttle orbiter, according to a person briefed on the decision but not authorized to discuss it publicly. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is set to announce the winners at 10 a.m., Pacific Time.
"City officials on Tuesday confirmed to KHOU 11 News that Houston will not receive one of NASA's retired space shuttles. The official announcement was set to be made by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at noon at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida."
"NASA ignored the intent of Congress and the interests of taxpayers," Brown said in a press statement. "NASA was directed to consider regional diversity when determining shuttle locations. Unfortunately, it looks like regional diversity amounts to which coast you are on, or which exit you use on I-95. Even more insulting to taxpayers is that having paid to build the shuttles, they will now be charged to see them at some sites."
Abort mission: Adler, lakefront won't be home to retired shuttle, Chicago Sun Times
"Adler will get a space-flight simulator used to train astronauts that's currently in Houston. It will become a new centerpiece for the planetarium, said Adler President Paul Knappenberger. The simulator is three-stories high and features a "full-scale mock-up of the crew compartment'' of a space shuttle, he said."
"This is certainly disappointing, but not entirely unexpected as the Administration has been hinting that Houston would not be a winner in this political competition," Mayor Annise Parker said in an issued statement. "I am disappointed for Houston, the JSC family and the survivors of the Columbia and Challenger missions who paid the ultimate price for the advancement of space exploration. There was no other city with our history of human space flight or more deserving of a retiring orbiter. It is unfortunate that political calculations have prevailed in the final decision."
"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will participate in a ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on Tuesday, April 12 on the 30th anniversary of the first space shuttle launch. At 3 p.m. on April 12, NASA will hold a media teleconference to discuss the placement of the orbiters. Senior NASA officials will be available to answer questions."
Letter to NASA's Bolden requests equity on shuttle (Texas delegation), editorial, , Houston Chronicle
"Houston is the rightful place for a space shuttle to be put on permanent display. It will continue Houston's legacy in human space flight, it will enrich the learning experience of the children and adults alike who visit and will inspire future generations. We hope that you will recognize both Houston's unique contribution to human space flight and its eligibility under the NASA Authorization Act by deciding to place one of the last orbiters at Johnson Space Center."
"Seattle's Museum of Flight should get a retiring space shuttle orbiter, members of Washington's Congressional delegation write to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Wednesday."
Public can watch shuttle announcement live at museum, Dayton Daily News
"The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will offer the public a chance to watch NASA's announcement of its plans for three retired space shuttles on Tuesday. The museum located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is one of 21 facilities nationwide vying to receive a shuttle."
"Twenty-one museums and science and visitor centers around the country are vying for one of NASA's three retiring spaceships. They'll find out Tuesday on the 30th anniversary of Columbia's maiden voyage. Snagging Discovery, Atlantis or Endeavour for display doesn't come cheap. NASA puts the tab at $28.8 million. Consider that a bargain. Early last year, NASA dropped the price from $42 million."
"It's not likely one is coming to Huntsville. The starting price to get one of the shuttles was more than $28 million, plus the costs of meeting NASA's conditions, such as displaying the orbiter in a climate-controlled indoor space."
Space shuttle Discovery coming to Smithsonian, Washngton post
"The process for prepping the shuttle will take months before it likely goes on display at the National Air and Space Museum, Space.com reports. The Discovery is the most prolific traveler of the trio of NASA spaceships."
"Andrew Chaikin explains why humans need to follow in the footsteps of their robotic emissaries and travel to Mars."
"One week shy of the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight, NASA astronaut Ron Garan and Russian cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev launched to the International Space Station at 6:18 p.m. EDT Monday (4:18 a.m. local time, April 5) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan."
"The Soyuz, which has been dubbed 'Gagarin,' is launching one week shy of the 50th anniversary of the launch of Yuri Gagarin from the same launch pad in Baikonur on April 12, 1961 to become the first human to fly in space. The first stage of the Soyuz booster is emblazoned with the name Gagarin and the cosmonaut's likeness."
"Following discussions among the International Space Station partners on Sunday, NASA has targeted the launch of space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission for 3:47 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 29. The delay removes a scheduling conflict with a Russian Progress supply vehicle scheduled to launch April 27 and arrive at the station April 29."
"HOUSTON -- Space Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly will not be available for media interviews that had been scheduled from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. CDT Thursday, March 24, at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Kelly will participate in a previously scheduled news conference with his crew at 2 p.m. CDT Thursday to discuss their upcoming STS-134 shuttle mission to the International Space Station. The news conference will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website."
Scott Kelly's Cancelled TV Interviews (Update), earlier post
"A NASA spokesman said no other shuttle astronaut had ever declined to participate in the one-on-one interviews and dozens of reporters and photographers were expected to be on hand Thursday. Why Kelly waited until the day before the long-planned interviews to make his decision was not known. ... It remains to be seen whether reporters will honor expected requests not to ask about Giffords during the crew news conference Thursday or what Kelly might do if questions are, in fact, asked. It also remains to be seen whether Kelly will participate in a traditional launch pad question-and-answer session at the Kennedy Space Center March 31 during training before a dress-rehearsal countdown April 1."
NASA Cancels Kelly Interviews, Discovery News
"I'm no PR expert, but as a journalist, I've sure been told "No comment," often enough. It also makes you wonder why NASA went to such lengths to distribute a glam shot of Scott Kelly showing off his "Gabby" wristband after landing. NASA says Mark Kelly will participate in a formal press conference along with his crewmates this afternoon. Should be interesting ..."
"(h) NASA employees are not required to speak to the media."
"For the first time, NASA has released high-definition video taken during the retrieval of solid rocket booster segments from the Atlantic Ocean. The solid rocket boosters provided 144 million pounds of thrust for the final launch of space shuttle Discovery on its STS-133 mission."
Keith's 4:50 pm EST note: "144 million pounds of thrust"? I don't think so.
Keith's 10:00 pm EST update: They fixed it to read "horsepower".
"Sen. Chuck Schumer is cashing in his clout in hopes of winning a retiring space shuttle for the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. Schumer invited NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to visit the proposed glass-enclosed site for a soon-to-be-retired shuttle at Pier 86 next to the Interpid."
"Chicago's Adler Planetarium has joined the bidding war to secure one of NASA's space shuttles for display when the fleet is retired, officials say. Planetarium officials announced plans for a dramatic lakefront glass pavilion they said would be built if the museum obtains one of the soon-to-be-retired space shuttles, the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday."
Space City fears snub on shuttle, Houston Chronicle
"There's a general sense that NASA and the Smithsonian will distribute the orbiters geographically to maximize public access, with one at Kennedy Space Center, one in the middle of the country and one on the West Coast. The concern among Houston's boosters is that Ohio could take the middle-of-the-country slot from Texas. Other leading candidates are New York City and Seattle. The Greater Houston Partnership is significantly ramping up its lobbying efforts."
Will Seattle's Museum of Flight get a space shuttle?, Seattle Times
"The Seattle museum is one of more than two dozen across the country that have indicated an interest in hosting one of four retiring space shuttles after the program ends later this year. The framework for a glass wall of the museum's 15,500 Space Gallery was lifted into place Wednesday."
Kennedy Space Center probes illegal-drug find, Florida Today
"NASA is investigating the finding of apparent illegal drugs at Kennedy Space Center for the second time in a little more than a year. Preliminary field tests indicated that 4.2 grams of a white powdery substance found March 7 was cocaine, said Renee Juhans, a spokeswoman for NASA's Office of Inspector General, which is conducting the investigation. "The substance is now at an accredited crime lab for further testing," she said."
Cocaine found again at Kennedy Space Center, My Fox Orlando
"This is the second time in a year that drugs have been found at NASA. In January 2010 a plastic bag with cocaine residue was found near a restroom in the restricted hangar where the space shuttle Discovery was being prepared for a mission flight."
"We found that NASA had not fully integrated its export control and property disposition processes to reduce the risk that public sales of Space Shuttle property could result in the prohibited release of export-controlled items and technology. This occurred because the Agency did not fully recognize how the domestic sale of Space Shuttle property could result in an export. Moreover, NASA's policies do not include the internal controls necessary to fully protect export-controlled property from unauthorized release."
14 March NASA note: "At about 7:40 a.m. EDT this morning, a United Space Alliance worker fell at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A. NASA emergency medical personnel responded, but they were unable to revive the man. Because of medical privacy, currently we're not able to release any additional details about this fatality. Family members are being notified. All work at Launch Pad 39A has been suspended for the rest of the day, and counseling and other employee assistance are being provided to workers. Right now our focus is on our workers and for the family of the USA employee. The incident is under investigation."
15 March NASA Update: "NASA and United Space Alliance managers will meet with employees who work at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A this morning before resuming processing operations. They are assessing how the work force is doing following the death of a coworker at the pad on Monday morning. Depending on how the workers are coping with the unexpected loss, work will slowly resume on space shuttle Endeavour for its targeted April 19 launch for its STS-134 mission to the International Space Station."
A Not-So-Simple Truth, Wayne Hale
"February is a month for introspection for me, and the events of 8 years ago have been on my mind. In the Columbia accident investigation report, there are several pages devoted to the use of a computer program called "Crater" which analyzed potential damage to the thermal tiles. The results provided from that computer program indicated that no serious damage had been done to Columbia's tiles and therefore a safe landing would occur. Disaster occurred instead."
Space shuttle Discovery's crew started its last day at the International Space Station with a special wake up call. The "Theme from Star Trek," performed by Alexander Courage, served as the wake up music for Discovery's crew at 2:23 a.m. It received the second most public votes from a Top 40 list in a Space Shuttle Program-sponsored song contest. The top two songs with the most votes from that list earned the right to be played as wake up music for Discovery's crew during its final mission. As a bonus, actor William Shatner recorded a special introduction to the song: "Space, the final frontier. These have been the voyages of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Her 30 year mission: To seek out new science. To build new outposts. To bring nations together on the final frontier. To boldly go, and do, what no spacecraft has done before."
Discarding Shuttle: The Hidden Cost, Paul Spudis, Air & Space
"On February 15, 2011 a symposium entitled "U.S. Human Spaceflight: Continuity and Stability" was held at Rice University's James A. Baker Institute of Public Policy. Organized by George Abbey, the resident space expert at the Baker Institute, one might have suspected that it would be Shuttle-centric and indeed, it was. Many pertinent points relevant to the current discussion about NASA's human space program and its future (or lack thereof) came out of the presentations at this symposium."
If you can, watch this video in HD (select the 720p option). As the payload slowly rotates you will see Discovery's vapor trail at the Earth's limb - twice. The payload (with camera) first swings to the west and then reverses and swings back to the east, past Discovery's vapor trail, around to the west again, and then continues to rotate to the east toward the vapor trail again.
"Last week a balloon with a student-oriented payload shot high resolution photos and video from an altitude of over 110,000 feet of Space Shuttle Discovery as it climbed into space.These images and video were released today as part of a mission report provided by Quest for Stars representative Bobby Russell at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) at the University of Central Florida."
"This photo was taken from an an altitude of over 70,000 feet (still being determined exactly) at 5:20 pm EST on 24 February 2011. The camera used was the lowest resolution camera on board the Robonaut-1 balloon - a Motorola Droid X smartphone. You can see the plume left by Space Shuttle Discovery as it headed into space. We will be releasing more images of greater resolution and HD video very soon - all of which show Discovery heading into space. Photo credit (mandatory) Quest for Space/Challenger Center."
Keith's update: We've added a video still taken by a GoPro Hero Motorsport that clearly shows Discovery arcing into orbit. The video (we'll post it soon) clearly shows the Discovery climbing into space.
Discovery Poised to Liftoff, SpaceRef
"NASA is poised to launch space shuttle Discovery on her last mission this Thursday at 4:50 p.m. EST. It seems with all recent attempts to get Discovery launched, NASA is working one minor leak issue. However the issue should not cause any delay."
NASA chief Bolden makes call on where shuttles will stay, Florida Today
"[Bolden] said he planned to formally announce "within the next few weeks, if not days" that KSC will be the home of the NASA office that oversees the development and operation of commercial space taxis. NASA's primary launch operations site never has hosted a human spaceflight project office. That work historically has been done at Johnson Space Center in Houston or NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and during Project Mercury, at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va."
$14M to move shuttle to Air Force museum tucked in Obama budget plan, Dayton Daily News
"The Obama administration asked Congress for $14 million to transfer the space shuttle Atlantis to the Air Force Museum here, a strong sign the Dayton region may land one of three orbiters when they are retired this summer. Although NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will make the final decision on where to locate Atlantis, the request -- tucked deep inside the administration's 2012 budget -- suggests that the White House and the Air Force favor the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force as a final destination for Atlantis."
"The Boeing Company announced today that it will donate $5 million to the Air Force Museum Foundation in three installments over the next three years. The foundation will deliver the funds to the U.S. Air Force for the benefit of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio."
"Mark Kelly, husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, will fly the space shuttle Endeavour's final mission in April, according to a source familiar with the decision."
"NASA astronaut Mark Kelly will resume training as commander of the STS-134 space shuttle mission on Monday, Feb. 7. With the exception of some proficiency training, Kelly has been on personal leave since Jan. 8 to care for his wife, congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded in a Tucson, Ariz. shooting."
"NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), seriously injured during the Tucson shooting rampage last month, also spoke briefly at the breakfast and gave the closing prayer."