Keith Cowing: August 2004 Archives

NASA's Office of Exploration Systems has announced a listing of Notices of Intent (NOI) letters submitted in response to the Human & Robotic Technology BAA which have been selected to submit full proposals.

Due the large number of NOIs rejected NOI email notifications are not being sent out.

Full proposals are due to NASA by 29 September 2004.

31 August 2004: Republican Party Platform 2000, 2004

"In addition, the Republican Party will remain committed to America's leadership in space research and exploration. We will ensure that this Nation can expand our knowledge of the universe, and with the support of the American people, continue the exploration of Mars and the rest of the solar system. We consider space travel and space science a national priority with virtually unlimited benefits, in areas ranging from medicine to micro-machinery, for those on earth. Development of space will give us a growing economic resource and a source of new scientific discoveries."

Editor's note: So far no such clear, emphatic statement from John Kerry - just an attempt by his staff to bury photos of him inside a space shuttle orbiter. This is from the 2000 RNC platform - not the 2004 platform, so we'll have to see what the RNC comes up with this time. None the less, it would still be nice to hear from John Kerry on this topic. One paragraph would be just fine.

Reader comment: The only mention of NASA or the space program in the GOP 2004 platform is on page 63: "The President's support for NASA and vision for space exploration will also enhance scientific development and technological breakthroughs."

31 August 2004:Scientists Discover First of a New Class of Extrasolar Planets, NASA

"Astronomers announced today the first discovery of a new class of planets beyond our solar system about 10 to 20 times the size of Earth - far smaller than any previously detected. The planets make up a new class of Neptune-sized extrasolar planets. In addition, one of the new planets joins three others around the nearby star 55 Cancri to form the first known four-planet system."

New Moon Rising

30 August 2004: A New NASA Rising (Book review), Space Daily

"Sietzen and Cowing illustrate the newly geared mindset of NASA by comparing the jargon advocated by people like Craig Steidle- its new Associate Administrator- against the language once used under Dan Goldin's stewardship. Now its concepts like 'form follows function', 'spiral development' and 'affordable, sustainable, and credible' are replacing the old mantras of 'better, faster, cheaper'."

29 August 2004: Combustible DeLay may be low key at RNC, AP

"An ardent supporter of the aerospace industry, DeLay will speak at a "Space Jam" reception at Studio 450 honoring him Tuesday night, a month after he vowed to restore $1.1 billion that House Republicans tentatively cut from NASA's budget. Sponsors of the invitation-only reception include Boeing , Northrop Grumman, Orbital, software company AGI and the Space Foundation. Brian Chase, the foundation's vice president, said the $50,000 reception is to thank DeLay, not an effort to affect the outcome of the spending fight."

Editor's note: There will be another space-related reception at the RNC. This one will be held on Thursday evening and will honor Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX). Sponsors include Boeing, USA, and Lockheed Martin.

26 August 2004: NASA JSC Standards of Ethical Conduct Determination: Reception at University of Houston Clear Lake honoring Rep. Tom DeLay, NASA JSC

"On August 24, 2004, the University of Houston System is hosting a reception honoring The Honorable Tom DeLay, Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives, at the Atrium II, Bayou Building, University of Houston-Clear Lake, 2700 Bay Area Boulevard, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres will be served. There will also be a cash bar."

Editor's note: Word has it that this reception is under scrutiny for possible use of state funds. Moreover, it was sent out a day after copies of the Hatch Act were distributed to NASA employees. Stay tuned.

Fred Whipple has died

31 August 2004: Fred Whipple, World-renowned Harvard and Smithsonian Astronomer, Dies

"Dr. Fred Lawrence Whipple, the oldest living American astronomer and one of the last giants of 20th century astronomy, passed away yesterday at the age of 97 following a prolonged illness.

Armwaving from Mars

30 August 2004: Debating the Aldridge report, The Space Review

"Zubrin revealed that he had an opportunity to provide input to the Aldridge Commission by testifying but turned them down. He said the commission asked him to testify "on the condition that I not address any programmatic and technical issues." ...

... "Zubrin's harsh critique of the Aldridge Commission was the first time he had criticized it openly in a public audience. "I did not attack it publicly because the report has been disappearing on its own," he said, "and to attack it publicly would have been viewed as attacking the President's bandwagon." Several times during the debate he reiterated his position that the report will have no lasting impact on NASA or space exploration in general. "The good thing about the report was that it was so bad it was instantly forgotten," he noted."

Editor's note: In Mars Society President Bob Zubrin's universe there is but one destination: Mars - and only one way to get there: his way. Nothing else is worth doing. If you do not agree 100% with him - and with all of his dogma - then you are wrong. There is no middle ground.

From the Virtual AGC homepage: "The purpose of this project is to provide an emulation of the Apollo guidance computer, along with some ancillary items needed to make the emulation do something interesting. "Interesting" is, of course, a subjective notion, and there are plenty of additional components one might want to add to the simulation to make it more interesting."

Editor's note: The MIT people behind this project could use some help from anyone who is familiar with Apollo computer systems. Meanwhile you can download what they have been working on.

29 August 2004: Plan 1 for Outer Space, Washington Post

"The government, meanwhile, hasn't yet figured out how to keep one of its signature triumphs, the Hubble Space Telescope, from falling back to Earth in a fireball. NASA doesn't want to endanger a crew of astronauts for the sake of an aging instrument that will eventually be replaced by more powerful telescopes. There is talk of a robotic mission to save the Hubble, but the whole issue has been a public relations disaster for the agency, emanating the whiff of a can't-do attitude. These were the people who could always do the impossible. They were the ones who inspired a great American cliche: If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we . . ."

26 August 2004: NASA JSC Standards of Ethical Conduct Determination: Reception at University of Houston Clear Lake honoring Rep. Tom DeLay, NASA JSC

"On August 24, 2004, the University of Houston System is hosting a reception honoring The Honorable Tom DeLay, Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives, at the Atrium II, Bayou Building, University of Houston-Clear Lake, 2700 Bay Area Boulevard, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres will be served. There will also be a cash bar."

Editor's note: Word has it that this reception is under scrutiny for possible use of state funds.

26 August 2004: Major NASA Extrasolar Planet Discovery Announcement Scheduled for August 31st, NASA

"A team of planet-hunters will announce their discovery of a new class of planets beyond our solar system at a NASA Science Update at 1 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, August 31. Their discovery represents a significant and much-anticipated advance in the hunt for extra-solar planets."

26 August 2004: NASA Notes Some Progress in Making Shuttles Safer, NY Times

26 August 2004: NASA's backup plan involves rescue shuttles, space station, USA Today

26 August 2004: Still No Fix for Problem That Doomed Shuttle-NASA, Reuters

"One year after a highly critical report urged NASA to develop the means to fix a broken space shuttle in orbit, the U.S. space agency still cannot repair a hole the size of the one that doomed the seven Columbia astronauts, NASA said on Thursday."

26 August 2004: A Giant Leap For Commercial Space Travel, IEEE Spectrum

"Paul Allen, Microsoft Corp.'s cofounder, funded Rutan's project, ostensibly to win the US $10 million Ansari X Prize for the first workable "space tourist" vehicle. But Rutan and Allen's gaze was directed far beyond that prize. Considering they spent more than twice as much money as they could win, clearly they were looking to participate in a future of commercial space travel for ordinaryalbeit richpeople."

Shuttle Safety Process

26 August 2004: NASA Notes Some Progress in Making Shuttles Safer, NY Times

26 August 2004: NASA's backup plan involves rescue shuttles, space station, USA Today

26 August 2004: Still No Fix for Problem That Doomed Shuttle-NASA, Reuters

"One year after a highly critical report urged NASA to develop the means to fix a broken space shuttle in orbit, the U.S. space agency still cannot repair a hole the size of the one that doomed the seven Columbia astronauts, NASA said on Thursday."

26 August 2004: A Giant Leap For Commercial Space Travel, IEEE Spectrum

"Paul Allen, Microsoft Corp.'s cofounder, funded Rutan's project, ostensibly to win the US $10 million Ansari X Prize for the first workable "space tourist" vehicle. But Rutan and Allen's gaze was directed far beyond that prize. Considering they spent more than twice as much money as they could win, clearly they were looking to participate in a future of commercial space travel for ordinaryalbeit richpeople."

24 August 2004: Big Minds Gather to Discuss Ultra-Small Technology at NASA, NASA ARC

24 August 2004: Planetary Probe Experts Gather at NASA to Discuss Exploration, NASA ARC

Editor's note: The first of these NASA ARC press releases ("Big Minds") was sent out by email at 1:33 pm EDT yesterday. It announces an event at ARC that will be held from 24-26 August. By the time this press release went out the first day of the event was already underway.

Beagle 3 on MSL?

24 August 2004: Beagle 'may go to Mars on Nasa's flying bedstead', The Telegraph

"An appeal for a new and improved Beagle mission to be taken to Mars by the US space agency Nasa has been made by Prof Colin Pillinger, the driving force behind the Beagle 2 mission that was lost on Christmas Day."

23 July 2004: 'Beagle 3' looks to American ride, BBC

"Professor Pillinger says he wants to send a second Beagle instrument package to the Red Planet as soon as possible. "We wrote to Nasa last week, asking them if they'd like to put a Beagle pod on MSL and drop it off in an interesting place," he said."

2 June 2002: Race to Mars begins a distant search for life, CNN

"In 2000, Pillinger pilloried the NASA rovers as "much less scientifically accomplished." Unlike them, he told a meeting of British scientists, "Beagle 2 won't be going sightseeing."

Editor's note: Now I have seen everything. For years Colin Pillinger dumped on the U.S. and the way it builds spacecraft. Then he crashes his spacecraft on Mars - most likely because he cut too many corners - and his country loses faith in him. Now he tries to get a ride on a U.S. Mars mission due to lack of enthusiasm back home. What a hypocrite.

Oh yes - "Faster - Better - Cheaper" does not work Colin. We learned that lesson the hard way. Now its your turn. Hint: find more money.

Ants in Space

23 August 2004: Space-age Antquarium Ant Set

"Originally developed for a NASA study of the effects of zero gravity on ant populations, the nontoxic translucent blue gel was designed to protect the ants from the extreme g-forces experienced during space shuttle launches. Remarkably, this gel also serves as a nutritious food source."

The Simpsons - Deep Space Homer

"The spacecraft has apparently been taken over - "conqured" if you will - by a master race of giant space ants. It's difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive earth men or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And I for one welcome our new insect overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality I could be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves." - Kent Brockman"

Editor's note: The Mars Society held its convention in Chicago this past week. Among the exhibitors present was the publisher of the book Frank Sietzen and I wrote "New Moon Rising". Our publisher was only allowed to have a booth at the convention if they did not sell our book. This specific condition was set personally by Mars Society President Bob Zubrin.

What are you so afraid of, Bob? And why don't you want your followers to read this book?

25 August 2004: Long Arm of Foreign Policy, Washington Post

"Also off the table is the possibility of buying Soyuz spacecraft through intermediaries or negotiating a new barter agreement. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Steven Pifer told Congress last year that such tactics "would likely be viewed by many as an evasion of the law."

NASA is pursuing the possibility that additional Soyuz might be available under the existing agreement, which authorizes the United States and Russia to trade goods and services "for the life of the station," but it is far from clear whether this wording would admit Soyuz purchases beyond the original 11."

"Founded in 1998, the society has grown to 7,000 members."

Read the story: Convention proves Mars Society isn't just for scientists, Chicago Tribune

  • 19 August 2004: Personal mission to Mars, Chicago Daily Herald

    "... And in fact, probably only 1 percent or fewer of the society's more than 7,000 members do."

  • 19 August 2004: Mars missionaries beam down here, Chicago Sun-Times

    "The society is a private group of about 7,000 Mars enthusiasts, including scientists, engineers, teachers and science fiction writers."

Editor's note: Contrary to the number of 7,000 that Mars Society president Bob Zubrin uses to describe the Mars Society's membership, the real number of paid members, according to reliable sources and statements in Mars Society business meetings, is less than 2,000. A 2003 Mars Society business meeting in Eugene, Oregon heard the society's steering committee report a paid membership number of "approximately 1,600". When Zubrin or his wife Maggie (the society's executive director) cites 7,000 members, what they do not tell you is that they are including anyone who has ever been deemed a "member" regardless of whether they have ever paid dues again. They also include anyone who has ever registered for a Mars Society conference - even if they do not know that they are now a "member".

"NASA appreciates the thoughtful responses and questions submitted during the early phase of this RFI. It is important to keep in mind the purpose of this RFI, to gather ideas on what alternative management models might be feasible for NASA's field centers. There is not just one way to organize ourselves to accomplish the exploration strategy, hence we are gathering and studying multiple ideas. We have answered the questions we believe to be within the scope of this RFI, listed those we believe to be beyond the scope of this RFI, and in a few cases, provided alternate sources of additional information. We look forward to your creative and thoughtful ideas."

Read the responses: Responses to NASA Special Notice: Transforming the Private Sector Role in Space Operations, NASA

"The Stafford-Covey Return to Flight Task Group has postponed its planned August 26 public meeting. Because of the postponement, the media teleconference that would have followed the meeting also has been postponed. The next task group public meeting is planned for September."

Read the postponement notice: Stafford-Covey Task Group Postpones August 26 Public Meeting, NASA

Conference "Pre-solicitation Conference September 7, 2004. The initially planned date of September 1, 2004 was changed due to personnel/auditorium unavailability."

Read the pre-solicitation: NASA Special Notice: NASA Shared Services Center Presolicitation

"In addition, the Commission cited the insufficient methods for students to acquire hands-on experience in the scientific and technical disciplines necessary for space commerce and exploration. They called for an alliance between NASA and universities to create a 'virtual' space academy."

Read the notice: NASA Special Notice: Plan for prioritizing teacher training, integrating existing math, science and engineering education intiatives; and exploring options for creating a virtual space academy, NASA

"NASA officials will hold a series of telephone conferences for media on Thursday, August 26. They will discuss the progress made since the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) released its report August 26, 2003."

Read the story: NASA to give progress update one year after CAIB report, NASA

"Engineers at NASA's Stennis Space Center (SSC) in Mississippi have successfully tested what's expected to be the last of three Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) that will carry the next Space Shuttle into orbit."

Read the story: NASA engineers test final engine for Return to Flight Space Shuttle mission, NASA

"Written by veteran space journalists Frank Sietzen, Jr. and Keith Cowing, New Moon Rising is a detailed history of the evolution of the U.S. civil space program from the February 1, 2003 space shuttle Columbia accident to the release of the Presidential Commission report on Moon, Mars, and Beyond on June 2, 2004."

Read the review: New Moon Rising, Q&A with co-author Frank Sietzen

Editor's note: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has sent a letter to the General Accounting Office requesting that the GAO conduct an audit of NASA's expenditures. More details to follow.

"The NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) Procurement schedule has been revised to accommodate (1) a pre-solicitation conference; and (2) finalizing lease terms and conditions for the available site locations."

Read the story: NASA Shared Services Center Revised Procurement Schedule

"Now that NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is finally examining bedrock in the "Columbia Hills," it is finding evidence that water thoroughly altered some rocks in Mars' Gusev Crater."

Read the story: NASA Spirit Rover: Bedrock in Mars' Gusev Crater Hints at Watery Past

"The pace of preparations for Return to Flight is picking up, with several key milestones in recent weeks marking important progress in readying the Space Shuttle Discovery for its next mission."

Read the story: Milestones Set the Stage for NASA Shuttle Discovery's Return to Flight

"The U.S. aerospace industry is hiring once again according to monthly Labor Department data compiled by AIA's Aerospace Research Center. Industry employment reached 579,800 in June after falling to a 50-year low of 568,700 in February. This marks a reversal of a downward trend that began 14 years ago at the end of the Cold War, then followed by declining defense budgets, industry consolidation, and two commercial market downturns."

Read the story: Aerospace Industry Employment Increases After Falling to 50-Year Low, AIA

"After both crewmembers prepared for today's scheduled EPO (Educational Payload Operations) demo by reviewing the training instructions for toys and music instruments (Blues Harp, Chicken Shake and Puzzles), they set up the Lab camcorder and recorded the subsequent demo of both of them performing the Chicken Shake. [The Chicken Shake is an egg-shaped percussion instrument very similar to Cuban Maracas (only without the handles) that in Caribbean or South American orchestras are used in the percussion section to add to its variety of rhythms, textures and tone colors. The Chicken Shake EPO aboard ISS is a project of the Maryland Science Center."

Read the status report: NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 16 August 2004

"With eyes sharper than any that have peered at Saturn before, the Cassini spacecraft has uncovered two moons, which may be the smallest bodies so far seen around the ringed planet."

Read the story: NASA Cassini Discovers Two New Saturnian Moons

"Food makers may eventually benefit from imminent food technologies designed to prolong space travel as NASA calls on food scientists to provide food solutions that will enable humans to travel far from Earth to the Moon or Mars - creating new opportunities for exploration and discovery."

Read the story: Space travel pushes food science forward, Food Production Daily

"NASA has decided to base Project Columbia, which will boost its computing capacity tenfold, on SGI's Linux-based Altix machines and integrate 20 512-processor Altix systems with 500TB of SGI's InfiniteStorage to create the Space Exploration Simulator."

Read the story: Linux on Mars: NASA and SGI Search for Little Green Men, LinuxWorld

See the images: Views from Space, Athens 2004 Olympics

"This is a modification to the synopsis entitled Human & Robotic Technology (H&RT) which was posted on June 29, 2004. You are notified that the following changes are made: Due to the tremendous response to NASA's BAA for H&RT and the resulting server problems, we are extending the due date time for the NOI submision to August 16th, 2004 at 12:00 PM EDT. The due date time for responses is extended. Documents related to this procurement will be available over the Internet."

Read the notice modification: Modification to a Previous NASA Presolicitation Notice: Human and Robotic Technology

"NASA hereby gives notice that Bigelow Development Aerospace Division, LLC, having offices in Las Vegas, NV, has applied for an exclusive license to practice the invention described and claimed in Patent No. 6,354,540 entitled ``Androgynous, Reconfigurable Closed Loop Feedback Controlled Low Impact Docking System With Load Sensing Electromagnetic Capture Ring,'' Case No. MSC-22931-1."

Read the notice: NASA Notice of Prospective Patent License: Bigelow Development Aerospace Division, LLC

Bad Marketing Taste at JSC

Editor's note: If you visit the JSC gift shop website you will see a promotion notice which says "FREE STS-107 Charm with every purchase over $50". This is rather creepy if you ask me. You would think they could find another shuttle mission to use to promote sales.

"Senator Kerry is not shy of assuming the mantle of John F. Kennedy and even of his Apollo Moon landing challenge. In his acceptance speech, Kerry said, "A young president asked what if we could go to the moon in ten years? And now we're exploring the solar system and the stars themselves." Kerry's problem is that he lacks Kennedys substance when in comes to space exploration."

Read this OpEd: What Does John Kerry See When He Looks to the Heavens?, OpEd, The Washington Dispatch

New Moon Rising Excerpts

15 July 2004: Exclusive: Book details Bush moon decision, UPI

"Part 3 deals with how the White House set the content of and the date for the president's announcement."

14 July 2004: Exclusive: Book details space plan's birth, UPI

"Part 2 deals with how the space plan developed at the grassroots level within the administration in 2003."

13 July 2004: Exclusive: Book details NASA's ordeal, UPI

"In their new book, "New Moon Rising: The making of America's new space vision and the remaking of NASA," authors Frank Sietzen Jr. and Keith L. Cowing detail how the National Aeronautics and Space Administration attempted to recover from the shuttle Columbia tragedy and prepare to fulfill President George W. Bush's new vision for the U.S. space program. Part 1 deals with NASA's deliberations on how to respond to the report by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board in August 2003."

"NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. has been selected as the site of NASA's Discovery and New Frontiers Program Office."

Read this story: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Selected as Program Office for Discovery and New Frontiers Initiatives to Explore the Solar System

NASA Special Notice: Transforming the Private Sector Role in Space Operations

"In NASA decisions, the preferred choice for operational activities must be competitively awarded contracts with private and non-profit organizations and NASA's role must be limited to only those areas where there is irrefutable demonstration that only government can perform the proposed activity. One step to foster these goals would be to have operational activities done to the greatest extent possible by the private sector."

NASA Special Notice: Expanded Use of NASA Contractual Authority to Obtain Ideas, Technologies, and Management Tools for Accomplishing Space Exploration

"The Commission noted that if the Vision for Space Exploration is to succeed in an affordable, credible and sustainable way, it must access as much private sector technology as possible. The Commission also stated that an increase in the number and variety of commercial companies working in the field of space would vastly increase the processes and materials available for space exploration. The Commission spoke favorably of mechanisms to encourage private sector involvement in space such as prizes, tax incentives, regulatory relief, and settlement of property rights in space."

"The foam that struck the space shuttle Columbia soon after liftoff -- resulting in the deaths of seven astronauts -- was defective, the result of applying insulation to the shuttle's external fuel tank, NASA said on Friday. The official investigation into the accident, conducted by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, left the matter open, since none of the foam or the fuel tank could be recovered for study."

Read this story: NASA Identifies Foam Flaw That Killed Astronauts, Reuters

"The Syracuse SkyChiefs announced today that the NASA Administrator Honorable Sean O Keefe will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the SkyChiefs 7:00 PM game versus the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons on Tuesday."

Read this story: NASA Administrator O Keefe to throw out first pitch Tuesday, OurSportsCentral

"Tonight our ISS crew will be seen on the big screen at the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece, for the opening of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games."

Read the NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 13 August 2004

Security Goof at JSC

Editor's note: If you go to this page which is part of a solicitation for vending machine operations at JSC you can download floor plans for some JSC buildings, the location of every vending machine at JSC, and a listing of how many people work in each building onsite at JSC.

12 August 2004: Materials removed

"TO: All Prospective Offerors
SUBJECT: Request for Proposal (RFP) 9-EXCHANGEFOODSVC dated 7/22/04, Amendment No. 3

The purpose of this amendment is remove the following historical information from the website. Offerors requiring this information must submit a notice of intent to bid and the information will be provided.

1. Floor Plans
2. Demographics
If you have any further questions, please submit them in writing no later than August 16, 2004. Please send questions via email to: .

Original signed by:

Delene R. Sedillo
Alternate Exchange Operations Manager"

Earlier entries

15 June 2004: Shooting for the moon or Mars? Think young, OpEd, USA Today

"What more satisfying career can there be for a young engineer than to design and build the ships that will carry humans back to the moon, then on to Mars and beyond? Such prospects would sustain students through the grueling hours of study and tests. The shortage of young engineers and scientists would be transformed in a short time into a surfeit."

10 June 2004: NASA Launches New Teacher Network, NASA JSC

"Educators from 39 states will help NASA continue the unique connection between space exploration and the classroom. The educators are participating in a four-day workshop hosted by NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, June 15-19. Reporters interested in attending the workshop should contact Nicole Cloutier-Lemasters by 3 p.m. EDT, Monday at: 281/483- 5111."

Editor's note: Oh why bother even sending this press release out?

It was 1:30 PM EDT on 10 June when I received this press release. The event starts in less than 4 days and I have to let JSC PAO know by Monday - the day before the event. Given the fact that government offices are closed on Friday that leaves just one working day to respond. If I had wanted to attend this event I would have just 4 days notice and would have to purchase a last minute (higher cost) airline ticket. If I worked for a larger news organization my assignment editor might just say that this would come out of my overall travel budget and cost as much as covering several other events. As such, the only people who are likely to cover this are local Houston media or reporters who were somehow given a heads up through other means.

What a great way to showcase NASA education programs. Again, why even bother to even send this press release out?

16 May 2004: NASA greets UND grads, Grand Forks Herald

"Sean O'Keefe, administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, capped his speech with a video clip of two space men greeting UND's 116th graduating class from 250 miles above the earth. "Now if you don't remember anything else about this afternoon, at least you can tell your kids and grandkids that you were part of the first graduating class to ever be addressed by a speaker from outer space," O'Keefe said."

14 May 2004: GRADUATION: UND's lucky 100,000 who will it be?, University of North Dakota

"UND will hold its general commencement at 1:30 p.m. in the Alerus Center. NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe will deliver the keynote address."

14 May 2004: NASA chief speaks in Lewiston, WMTW

"Sean O'Keefe was the keynote speaker at a dinner celebrating the economic growth of Lewiston and Auburn. O'Keefe, whose parents live in Bath, said he loves coming to Maine to be able to look up and see the stars at night."

15 May 2004: NASA head cites dip in tech grads, AP

13 May 2004: Colleges use creativity to land

"Sen. Byron Dorgan, a 1965 graduate of UND, made a personal request for NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe to consider the speaking engagement. It helped that UND is home to the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, Wittmann said. UND offers travel expenses but otherwise doesn't pay for speakers, he said. Nationally known speakers such as O'Keefe can bring not only a strong message to students, but also attention to the campus, Wittmann said. "It's certainly not the primary reason for inviting them, but it certainly is there," he said."

13 May 2004: Rowan graduation features NASA chief, Gloucester County Times

"Sean O'Keefe, who has served as the NASA administrator since December 2001, leads the NASA team and manages its resources as the agency advances exploration and discovery in aeronautics and space technologies."

15 March 2004: War of the Words: Scientist Attacks Alien Claims,

"Astronomer Philip Plait is tired of radio personality Richard Hoagland's claims. He's had enough of Hoagland's assertions that NASA is covering up evidence of extraterrestrial life, that the infamous Face on Mars was built by sentient aliens and, of late, that otherworldly machine parts are embedded in the red planet's dirt."

Editor's note: This article by Robert Roy Britt is an excellent expose of the pseudoscience goofery and quackery which, sadly, is all too common these days on the web. Well worth reading. Phil Plait (featured in the article) has done a wonderful job of debunking some of this nonsense. His Bad website is well worth a visit as well.

9 April 2004: NASA's a blast at Sheridan, Yale Daily News

"Nothing was typical about Thursday at Sheridan -- least of all the guest list. [astronaut Dan] Barry, the teacher for the day, was accompanied by the director and associate director of a NASA flight center, and the "class" included not only fifth- and sixth-graders but New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and New Haven Superintendant of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo."

8 April 2004: NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 8 Apr 2004

"At 10:40am EDT, the crew conducted an interactive educational PAO exchange with students at Kirby Middle School in San Antonio, TX, as part of the JSC Middle School Aerospace Scholars (MAS) Program, responding to questions collected from students and uplinked beforehand."

9 April 2004: Daily Hip-Hop News: KRS Taps NASA For Hip-Hop Conference

"Nas, Afrika Bambaata and Chuck D are among the speakers at KRS-One's Hip-Hop cultural conference to be held at NASA's headquarters in Washington, D.C."

30 March 2004: NASA chief brings a bit of star power to school, Statesman Journal

"When the top NASA administrator visits a school in your small Oregon town (population 5,600), it's a big deal. The mayor and school district superintendent come out. Local residents and students from schools in other nearby towns pay a visit."

30 March 2004: Next stop, Mars, The Oregonian

"Marie Scott, a fifth-grade teacher and the program's team leader at the school, said students are "getting more and more excited" about the Explorer Schools program. "If we don't do something related to space for a few days, they always ask when we're going to be doing 'NASA stuff' again."

30 March 2004: NASA director praises Bush's space directive, The Michigan Daily

"Alfonso Diaz, a director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, gave his program's goal - supported by the Bush administration - high marks in his speech at the University Friday. But University aerospace engineers have expressed mixed feelings about the agency's new focus."

22 March 2004: A Day in the Life of NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, SpaceRef

"So much of what a large agency such as NASA does on any given day seems to just happen by itself. As for how the agency itself is actually run - especially on a moment by moment basis - by the person at the top is a mystery to nearly all. I was offered a rather unique opportunity a few days ago - one that allowed me to personally witness a day in the life of NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. Actually, the coverage spanned two consecutive days, but as you will see, it might as well have been just one 37 hour day with a short power nap."

15 March 2004: NASA Participates in First White House Science Education Summit

"NASA is participating tomorrow [Tuesday 16 March] in the first White House Science Summit. More than 800 educators, researchers, scientists, and business leaders are expected to attend."

15 March 2004: NASA Administrator and Astronaut to Visit Lorain Middle School to Share New Vision With Students

"During their visit, O'Keefe and Good will talk with students about our destiny as explorers, NASA's stepping-stone approach to exploring Earth, the Moon, Mars and beyond, how space impacts our lives, and how people and machines rely on each other in space."

25 February 2004: Space Foundation Teacher Liaisons Announced

"This select group of educators will receive special training and professional development experiences as part of their commitment in representing the Space Foundation in schools across the country. They will be an active link between the Space Foundation, NASA, and their school/district in advocating and promoting space and science education through standard's based lessons, professional development, and NASA activities."

24 February 2004: Confusing Educational Statistics Circulating Within NASA

Editor's note: According to NASA sources, these two presentations have been circulated within the agency for a couple of days. They are meant to show how successful NASA is in reaching the public. The numbers in the presentations often do not make sense - either representing more people of a certain category than actually exist in the U.S. or preposterous numbers such as 8,536,026,247 GB of website data transfer. That is a vast amount of data - i.e. 8.5 billion gigabytes.

23 February 2004: No space for schools?, The Daily Nonpareil

"I think, when you start doing research (on NASA), I think you discover that NASA is a bit arrogant," said Eric Robinson, a physics teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School. "I think they need to have some sort of way of monitoring or evaluating its returns (on space exploration) and make it available to the public, to let us know more about what they're doing."

21 February 2004: Students Urged to Reach for the Stars - NASA's O'Keefe Hopes to Inspire Careers in Science, Washington Post

"NASA isn't quite recruiting straight from middle school, but the agency is trying to pique youngsters' interest in science in the hope that they will someday join the agency's mission of space exploration."

9 February 2004: Boeing Gives $1 Million to Challenger Center for Teacher Development

"Challenger Center for Space Science Education announced today that The Boeing Company will contribute $1 million to support professional development programs for the nation's math and science teachers."

4 November 2003: NASA Presolicitation Notice: Music Production Services, NASA LaRC

"The contractor shall produce five Enterprise specific theme songs as part of the Earth Crew Webcast Series. Tasks include writing lyrics and music; securing professional talent to perform compositions, and producing Master final recording."

Editor's note: Why not have a contest, offer prizes, and have people submit songs - the same way NASA named the "Spirit" and "Opportunity" Mars rovers. This way you could pick a song that you like - instead of being stuck with whatever the contractor comes up with. If nothing else this would be a great way to enhance public outreach and visibility for the programs.

7 November 2003: Modification to a Previous Presolicitation Notice: Music Production Services, NASA LaRC

"The subject solicitation 1-LAN-36278 for Music Production Services is hereby cancelled in its entirety."

6 October 2003: NASA Advisory Committee; Notice of Establishment Pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act: Education Advisory Committee, NASA HQ

"Purpose and Objective: The Committee will advise NASA Administrator on matters related to the Agency's educational program. The Committee will draw on the expertise of its members and other sources to provide its advice and recommendations to the Agency."

25 June 2003: NASA Sends Science and Math Teachers "Back to School", NASA

"The multimedia event kicks off the innovative program to send science and mathematics teachers "back to school" at NASA field centers. NASA experts and resources will be available during the summer to help educators acquire new teaching resources and technology tools to make learning science, mathematics and technology more appealing to students."

29 April 2003: Nurturing an Inner Passion for Outer Space, Washington Post

"To Morgan, what matters are not the delays in her dream of space, but the lessons others can draw from her story: the importance of setting goals and persevering, as well as what she calls a profound need to teach young people about the universe and excite enough of them to make it a career."

29 April 2003: Curiosity and Perseverance Catapult Teen Toward Dream of Becoming an Astronaut, Washington Post

"Growing up on the edge of a forest in Alberta, Canada, gazing at the stars and learning about the Earth from her geologist father, Anne Breaks decided at age 8 to become an astronaut. She has devoted her young life to chasing that goal."

23 April 2003: NASA Encourages Participation in Educator Astronaut Program's Earth Crew, NASA

"Students, educators and families are encouraged to interact withNASA by becoming part of the Educator Astronaut Program's (EAP) Earth Crew. Earth Crew is aninteractive Web-based program that immerses participants in space-related educational activities."

23 April 2003: Transforming Teachers into NASA Astronauts, NASA HQ

"Students and the public are encouraged to help NASA recruit teachers who can create out-of-this-world ways to educate students. NASA's Educator Astronaut Program is looking for individuals with specific experience in K through 12 education to become astronauts. The deadline for students or others to nominate a teacher is April 30, 2003."

23 April 2003: Recruitment and Selection of Astronaut Candidates: Direct final rule, NASA HQ

"NASA proposes to amend the rules to permit some of these recruitment and selection activities to be performed by NASA organizational elements that are not part of JSC. This change is necessary to conduct efficient and effective recruitment of a new component of the Astronaut Program, the Educator Astronauts."

21 April 2003: To Create a Blue Ribbon Panel for Educator Astronaut Positions - Modification to a Previous Presolicitation Notice, NASA HQ

"Q: Would a not-for-profit organization be eligible to compete for this (once the solicitation is released)?

A: Procurement will need to provide the response to this question."

Editor's note: Curiously, this Procurement notice was released by NASA Procurement Office. They state that "Procurement will need to provide the response to this question" and then they (Procurement) don't respond - other than to post the comment that they need to respond. Or perhaps the response wasn't even written by someone in NASA Procurement? Reading the rest of this notice leaves one with more questions than answers. With procurement notices such as this being released it is small wonder that NASA ever gets anything done. Whoever wrote this response seems to be unsure about what they want and can only answer using stock phrases full of buzz words. What they are apparently hoping for is that someone outside of the agency will do NASA's strategic thinking for them and come up with the right idea. You would have thought that such a major agency initiative would have a little more thought put into it well in advance before tossing notices out into the Federal procurement system - especially given the 1,000+ applications NASA has already received.

2 April 2003: Presolicitation Notice: To Create a Blue Ribbon Panel for Educator Astronaut Positions

2 April 2003: Presolicitation Notice: To Create a Blue Ribbon Panel for Educator Astronaut Positions, NASA HQ

"NASA/HQ plans to issue a Request for Quote (RFQ) to create a "Blue Ribbon Panel." NASA's Office of Education has a requirement to form a "Blue Ribbon Panel" for the purpose of developing criteria with which to evaluate job applicants for Educator Astronaut positions to distinguish which are "superior" educators."

27 January 2003: "Fun with Urine" Stirs Students' Imagination, Wallops

"A high school teacher and his students, from the Shoshone- Bannock Indian Reservation in rural Idaho, created one of the more than 80 science experiments aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-107). "Fun With Urine" chronicles how the award-winning teacher uses 'gross' and 'goofy' ideas to interest his students in science and the NASA space program."

21 January 2003: Now Online at NASA: Going Where No One Has Gone Before, SpaceRef

"Among the never before seen devices is the camera (often dubbed 'pottycam' or 'toiletcam') positioned within the training version of the toilet which is used to help train astronauts in how to get "perfect alignment" while using the system. "

21 January 2003: NASA Kicks Off New Teacher in Space Program, SpaceRef

NASA announced today that it was once again soliciting teachers to fly in space. In so doing, the words of Christa McAuliffe, who died on her way to teach class in space, were heard once again: "I touch the future: I teach".

Official website

12 December 2002: Barbara Morgan to Be Second Teacher in Space on STS-118, SpaceRef

"Nearly sixteen years after teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe gave her life in pursuit of her profession, her back-up, "Educator Mission Specialist" Barbara Morgan has been assigned to pick up where Christa left off."

19 June 2002: ISS On-Orbit Status 19 June 2002, NASA HQ

"Peggy Whitson's live interactive TV downlink to the Senate Subcommittee Hearing on NASA's relationship to education was cancelled today since the TDRS satellite for this time slot was required for the late Shuttle landing at Edwards Air Force Base. However, a video message had been downlinked and taped on the
ground on 6/17 for the event."

19 June 2002: Statement of Marci Whittaker before the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space

19 June 2002: Statement of Col. James S. Voss, USA (Ret) before the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space

19 June 2002: Statement of Peggy L. Steffen before the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space

"Science is all about questions. They may result from the simple curiosity of a preschooler or the investigation of fundamental questions about the origins of the universe. Teachers of science, like myself, are challenged to lead the Nation's children in discovering answers to questions. NASA has been a partner with me as a science teacher in meeting that challenge during 25 years of learning adventures with teenagers in Iowa. NASA's mission and resources were instrumental in providing opportunities to join explorers as they made new discoveries."

19 June 2002: Statement of Sean O'Keefe before the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space

"Every mission we accept requires the sharpest of minds, the strength of purpose and the drive to challenge barriers and frontiers. The minds we seek to develop will do those things and more for NASA, but more importantly, they will do these things for our Nation as well. NASA not only needs a future with more engineers and scientists, but our Nation does as well. Our current and future missions are dependent upon such minds and it is our charge to help our Nation prepare them for the challenges ahead."

18 May 2002: An Hour With Educator-Astronaut Barbara Morgan, SpaceRef

"NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe and Educator- Astronaut Barbara Morgan met with reporters last week at NASA headquarters to discuss NASA's Educator Mission Specialist Program. In announcing last month that she will fly in space, O'Keefe said "the time has come for NASA to complete the [STS-51L] mission -- to send an educator to space to inspire and teach our young people."

2 May 2002: Space Day's Second Annual Student Survey Reveals Kids' Insights about Mars Exploration

2 May 2002: 2002 Cyber Space Day Webcast to Focus on Mars, Space Day

25 April 2002: Discussing Mars and Talking to Astronauts Via a Webcast, NY Times

"It's not every day that students from around the world have a chance to interact with people who have been in space. But students will be able to do just that on May 2, when the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum presents a live two-hour interactive Webcast on the Internet and via a satellite broadcast."

23 April 2002: NASA Student Involvement Program (NSIP) (PRESOL)

"NASA/HQ's Office of Human Resources and Education, Code FE announces a Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) soliciting proposals to establish a collaboration between NASA and a host organization to further develop and implement the NASA Student Involvement Program (NSIP). The NSIP serves as a major national educational program addressing the widespread need of American students for greater scientific, mathematics, technological, engineering, and geography (SMTEG) literacy. "

15 April 2002:
Rohrabacher Applauds O'Keefe's Committment to the Educator in Space Program

"I welcome Sean O'Keefe's commitment to make space relevant to all Americans, especially young Americans who are without a doubt the future explorers, inventors, and entrepreneurs of our nation."

12 April 2002: Administrator Unveils Future Vision and a Renewed Journey of Learning, NASA HQ

12 April 2002: Address by the Honorable Sean O'Keefe NASA Administrator, Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs Syracuse University

"Part of my job as Administrator is to remind everyone of what NASA does and what we are capable of doing. It's a responsibility I take very seriously. I believe we are at a crossroad in NASA's history - We have an opportunity here and now to reinvigorate the agenda and renew the entrepreneurial spirit present at NASA's beginning - a continued characteristic of American culture.

Some believe NASA has lost its focus and that the pioneering spirit, the excitement of NASA's mission is gone. But believe me, that spirit is alive and well. We intend to nourish it."

12 April 2002: Statement by Rep. Ralph Hall on the April 12th Speech by NASA Administrator O'Keefe

12 April 2002: STA Endorses NASA Decision to Send Teacher on "Voyage into History", Space Transportation Association

"Barbara Morgan's historic voyage into history may be the latest step in using space to spark fresh interest in science, math, and technology. No one knows where this evolution will lead," [STA President Frank] Sietzen predicted. "The recruitment effort will help galvanize the nation and the worlds interest in space flight, and that cannot help but be yet another positive contribution for the Shuttle program," he added."

12 April 2002: Boehlert Applauds NASA Administrator O'Keefe's Vision for the Future

"I applaud his emphasis on science as the driver of NASA's mission, and his focus on education as a central task. NASA has an unparalleled capacity to inspire our young people. We must take full advantage of this resource, and Sean is leading us down that path."

11 April 2002: NASA to send teacher into space in 2004, CNN

"NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe will announce Friday in a speech on the
future of the agency that Morgan will be assigned as a mission specialist on
a shuttle flight to the international space station in 2004, according to
sources familiar with the space agency."

"Morgan, 50, is married and the mother of two sons. After graduating with honorsfrom Stanford University in 1974, she began her tea ching career at Arlee Elementary School on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana."

10 April 2002: Prepared Comments by Keith Cowing at the Second Astrobiology Science Conference, NASA Ames Research Center

"To be certain, NASA loves to come up with mission statements and visions and has a spotty track record when it comes to their actual implementation. That not withstanding, I don't think I can imagine a more astrobiology-friendly collection of words. As such, Its your own damn fault if you folks can't run with these words and gain some new ground."

1 August 2004: Kerry Visit Could Put NASA in the Hot Seat, Washington Post

The visitors center is managed by a vendor, Delaware North Cos., and often rents out rooms to conventions and corporate groups. When Democrats called to see if they could book Kerry, the appearance was deemed "a permissible event" by the center's staff members and their counterparts at NASA, said Dan LeBlanc, chief operating officer for the visitor complex. LeBlanc said Kerry was accompanied by Florida's two senators, Bill Nelson and Bob Graham, as well as former senator John Glenn, the legendary astronaut. All are Democrats. "It was not a campaign event but a town hall meeting," LeBlanc said. "It was not in a federal workplace but in a public facility on federal property."

Editor's note: Oh c'mon, Dan. This was a campaign event, plain and simple - by a presidential candidate on his way to a national convention. Besides, why would a senator from Massachusetts come to Florida for a 'town hall meeting'? Indeed the attendees were hand-picked by the Kerry campaign. If this was truly a 'town hall meeting' then any resident from Brevard County would have been allowed to attend.

Earlier Hubble Entries

3 July 2004: Hubble is not being held hostage, Sean O'Keefe, Toledo Blade

"The Blade accurately captured NASA's intent to "Keep Hubble alive" in its June 30 editorial, but that's about all it got right. The Hubble shuttle servicing mission was put on hold because it is doubtful we could mount such a shuttle mission that adheres to the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. There are several technical requirements for such a mission that may not be complete and tested prior to the Hubble telescope going dark."



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This page is an archive of recent entries written by Keith Cowing in August 2004.

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