Keith Cowing: September 2003 Archives

Clark on Space

30 September 2003: Clark Campaigns at Light Speed, Wired

"Clark's comment about FTL travel came at the end of a long answer to a question about his views of NASA and the U.S. space program. Clark said he supports the agency and believes "America needs a dream and a space program." But Clark said the nation must prioritize its technological goals and take a pragmatic approach to focusing its scientific resources and talent."

September 2003



24 September 2003: NASA safety panel revamp needed, says ex-member, Huntsville Times

"They cannot take whistleblower info because it is public record, which, in turn, doesn't allow for privacy," said Keith Cowing, a former NASA employee who runs a watchdog Web site called NASAWatch, www.nasawatch.com. "That can be corrected, and there may need to be some tweaking. Congress can have subcommittees given that power, and that would allow for whistleblower status."




24 September 2003: NASA Oversight Panelists Resign, Washington Post

"NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe yesterday found himself with an unexpectedly blank slate as he sets out to revamp the agency's much-criticized safety apparatus, after all nine members of a key oversight panel resigned."

23 September 2003: Miscommunication seen as threat to space station, Houston Chronicle

"Art Zygielbaum, who along with the entire Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel resigned in frustration Monday, said NASA is doing little to correct safety flaws in the operation of the orbiting outpost, just as it ignored problems that led to the Feb. 1 loss of space shuttle Columbia."

23 September 2003: Rep. Ralph Hall Statement on ASAP Resignations

"The mass resignation of the members of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) sends a strong signal that, despite the useful and important service that they have provided over the years, their advice has rarely been heeded."

23 September 2003: NASA Administrator Accepts Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Resignations, NASA

"NASA has already started the initial evaluation process to revise the panel's charge, based on congressional reaction to the findings of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The agency also will review the original 1967 ASAP charter and its amendments."

26 March 2003: Safety Panel to NASA: Build a "Full Envelope" Shuttle Escape System, SpaceRef

"Gregory said "I see the words 'no commitment' - even though NASA and industry have done a lot of work in the past" Gregory took issue with the finding and recommendation saying that the wording left him with the impression that the ASAP was saying that there was a "suggestion that NASA has given up - therefore there is no answer - therefore we will dismiss the opportunity to not look further".

22 September 2003: All 9 members resign from NASA safety panel, NYT via Houston Chronicle

"As an example, the group said, the Columbia investigators noted that the advisory panel had complained in 1995 that NASA officials were treating the space shuttle as mature, and that the situation "smacks of a complacency which may lead to serious mishaps." The Columbia investigators found just such complacency leading up to the accident on Feb. 1 that destroyed the shuttle."

22 September 2003: Space safety advisers resign, Orlando Sentinel

"Board Chairman Harold Gehman Jr., a retired admiral, told Congress that NASA may need to reformulate the ASAP membership "to get at the issues that you're concerned about." And a Senate report recommended earlier this month that NASA remake the panel to include "recognized safety, management and engineering experts from industry and academia."

Editor's note: Ouch. Then again, out of chaos comes opportunity.




19 September 2003: NASA adds extra shuttle mission, MSNBC

"NASA is settling on a plan for the space shuttle's "return to flight" next year, internal documents obtained by MSNBC.com show. These plans include moving the launch date for the flight, called STS-114, from the unrealistic "no earlier than March 11" into July 2004 or later."



19 September 2003: Smacked by a space chicken, Popular Science

"Sidney Gutierrez: On an earlier flight a window was hit by a little piece of something, and they concluded afterwards it was a piece of chicken the Russians had ejected and was just floating around in space."



19 September 2003:
Worries about layoffs at Michoud plant grow, Times Picayune

"Now that it's clear that space shuttles won't return to flight as soon as hoped, layoffs are a looming possibility for the Michoud plant in eastern New Orleans, a plant spokesman confirmed for the first time Friday."




17 September 2003: Shuttle Manager Details Changes, Washington Post

"Any arrogance I may have had went out the window on Feb. 1," [Wayne Hale] said at a news briefing at the Johnson Space Center, home of mission control. "In my personal life, before February, I thought we had it pretty much knocked... I would have told you we understood what we were doing, and we had mature processes and good hardware. And I think all of those assumptions have been shattered."

"We have come, over the course of several months of introspection and analysis, to a new understanding" of what went wrong, Hale said, as he held up a copy of the investigators' report. "In particular, the first thing we have to get out on the table is we were not good enough. We did not do what is necessary to keep the Columbia crew safe."

17 September 2003: Shuttle mission management team gets major revamp, Spaceflight Now

"In perhaps the most convincing demonstration yet that NASA "gets it," the new chairman of the agency's mission management team today outlined major changes to improve communications among engineers and managers, to ensure dissenting views are heard and to correct the cultural shortcomings blamed in part for the Columbia disaster."


18 September 2003: Daylight-launch rule adds to NASA's challenges in return to flight, Orlando Sentinel

"If NASA isn't ready to launch a space shuttle by fall 2004, the return to flight may have to wait until March 2005, thanks to new rules that cut the launch opportunities in half."

16 September 2003: NASA Says It Can't Meet Investigation Board's Goals, NY Times

"NASA officials said today that they would be unable to comply fully with a critical recommendation from the board that investigated the loss of the Columbia and its crew, giving the space shuttle the ability to repair damage to its heat-protection system in orbit."

16 September 2003: Forget shuttle launch in March: Midsummer just a maybe, Reuters

"Parsons said the Atlantis flight, which originally was supposed to deliver a new crew and supplies to the space station, would be dedicated entirely to testing the new safety measures, and at least one additional flight would be added to refine those measures."




16 September 2003: Space shuttles to last into next decade-Boeing, Reuters

"Since the International Space Station was designed to work with the space shuttle and to stay in service until at least 2018, the shuttle should probably stay in service until that date, Mott said. "So if you go to 2018 that becomes very logical because that (the shuttle and the space station) works together as an integrated system," Mott said."



15 September 2003: 9 Days in September: NASA Responds to the Columbia Accident Report, SpaceRef

"The process of responding to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's report began last week in Washington DC. The outcome of this process will, at a minimum lead to the path required to getting the Space Shuttle fleet flying again. This process may also lead to new directions for America's space program. Then again, it may not."

Editor's note: 14,000 words, 12 parts.


- Ground the Shuttle

- Beyond the Shuttle

- Separating People From Cargo

- Farewell to Faster - Better - Cheaper



- More Money Please

- Schedule

- Risk

- Learning



- Speaking Out

- Visions

- Leadership

- Get With The Program




11 September 2003: NASA looks for leadership, Orlando Sentinel

11 September 2003: NASA could build new craft in 5 years, Houston Chronicle

11 September 2003: House Panel Wary on Plan for Shuttle, NY Times

11 September 2003: Lawmakers Slam NASA Chief for Lack of Space Goal, Reuters

11 September 2003: Congress Criticizes Bush on Plans for Spaceflight, Washington Post

"Democratic lawmakers complained yesterday that the administration is making secret plans for the future of manned space flight without consulting Congress, while Republicans urged President Bush to enunciate his views on the future of the space program."



10 September 2003: Rep. Lampson Re-Introduces Bill to Restore Vision for NASA's Human Spaceflight Program

10 September 2003: Rep. Gingrey: NASA must keep Murphy's Law in mind

10 September 2003: Research Subcommittee Chairman Nick Smith's Statement on NASA's Response to the Columbia Report

10 September 2003: Rep. Boehlert Statement at Hearing on NASA's Response to the CAIB Report

"That said, I'm still concerned that the target is exceedingly ambitious and could skew NASA's efforts to return to flight. We also need to hear more about how NASA will schedule launches after return to flight to avoid the excessive schedule pressure related to the construction of the International Space Station - pressure that was discussed in great detail in the CAIB report, and pressure that Admiral Gehman has cited as an area in which NASA leadership created a cultural problem."




9 September 2003: Echoes of Gene Kranz

9 September 2003: Bush not a 'bad man,' just a 'bad president (Interview with Joe Lieberman), USA Today

"Failure is not an option here because this is now a major test in the war on terrorism."

9 September 2003: Bush Seeks $87B in Anti-Terror Funds, AP

"Howard Dean, another Democratic candidate, on Monday accused Bush of going into Iraq "recklessly" and said "failure is not an option."

9 September 2003: WTO head says Cancun talks key to world economy, Reuters

"Failure is not an option. It would send a very damaging signal around the world about prospects for economic recovery and would result in more hardship for workers around the globe, particularly in poorer countries," he said.

9 September 2003: Finally .... Fernandez, Del-Rio News Herald

"It's time to put up or shut up. When dealing with a child's education, failure is not an option," said Cadena. "We have a lot of work to do."

9 September 2003: Pinkel makes his pitch to St. Louis, ST. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Those that couldn't share his loathing of defeat had to go. Accepting failure is not an option around Pinkel."

Editor's note: Gee, with everyone else adopting this phrase - and rally cry - from NASA's glory days, one would think that NASA would embrace it - and integrate it into everything it does.




8 September 2003: A Crucial Manned Probe, editorial, Washington Post

"The admiral also said that his investigation board could reassemble a year from now to examine NASA's progress. Congress ought to seize on this possibility. The board did a remarkable job in showing how the accident was as much a product of human failings as hardware failure, and it would be a shame to discard its expertise."



4 September 2003: Columbia inquiry prompts White House strategy review, Nature (subscription required)

"The current US federal deficit and the mounting costs of the war in Iraq make any grand expansion of NASA's budget unlikely, but some commentators say that political factors may be coming together for a renewed US commitment to human space exploration."

4 September 2003: The Columbia Report: Will a Safer Shuttle Still Support Science?, Science (subscription required)


4 September 2003: The Columbia Report: 'I Think I Added Something', Science (subscription required)


4 September 2003: The Columbia Report: Vision, Resources in Short Supply for Damaged U.S. Space Program, Science (subscription required)

"Although leaders may not want to channel huge new sums to NASA, they can't stomach abandoning human space flight, either. Such a move would face strong opposition from aerospace companies, labor unions, and legislators representing districts in Florida, Texas, and California where NASA work is concentrated. It would also antagonize Russian, European, Japanese, and Canadian officials, whose countries have invested heavily in the space station."



4 September 2003: Opening Statement by Rep. Ralph Hall at Columbia Accident Investigation Hearing

"Finally, we need to set some concrete goals for human exploration beyond the Space Station. Establishment of human exploration goals would ensure that we make the appropriate investments in our space program, would revitalize the NASA workforce, and would serve as a source of inspiration for both the NASA workforce and the American public."



4 September 2003: Boehlert Statement at First Hearing on the Investigation into the Columbia Accident

"I think all of us need to face up to the rather disheartening picture of NASA that has been so painstakingly drawn by the CAIB. If we fail to do so, it's readily apparent that we will just have to go through this same sad exercise again. NASA's experience may be the ultimate proof of Santayana's famous observation about those who fail to learn from the past being doomed to repeat it."

4 September 2003: House Science Committee Hearing Charter: The Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report

4 September 2003: Congressional Research Service: NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia: Synopsis of the Report of the Columbia Accident

4 September 2003: House Science Committee: Excerpts from the CAIB Report




3 September 2003: Statement of Senator Ernest F. Hollings - Hearing on the Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report

3 September 2003: NASA Tells Breaux: Michoud Cooperated in Columbia Investigation

3 September 2003: Brownback Statement from Space Shuttle Columbia Investigation Report Hearing

3 September 2003: Prepared Statement by Sen. John McCain at Hearings on the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation Board

3 September 2003: Senate Testimony given by NASA Adminstrator Sean O'Keefe

3 September 2003: Senate Testimony given by CAIB Chairman Adm. Hal Gehman



4 September 2003: Senior NASA Management Heads Off On Leadership Council Retreat

Editor's note: Sean O'Keefe made frequent mention yesterday of the management team he has put into place - before and after the Columbia accident. He made particular note of how he expects this team to lead as the agency
continues with implementing the recommendations of the CAIB report. At
a Leadership Council Meeting to be held outside of Washington at the
end of this week NASA's Center Directors, Associate Administrators, and
other senior management will coordinate their plans as they are told
what it means when O'Keefe says 'we get it'. NASA is expected to issue
its Implementation Plan for the CAIB report next Monday. Stay tuned."


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