"Update on Elektron: After yesterday's two unsuccessful tries at restarting the Elektron O2 generator (one before, one after an effort by Krikalev to repair a leak in the nitrogen feed hose), ground specialists are considering plans to replace the currently installed BZh-7 (Liquid Unit #7) with the spare (but used) BZh-6 in the near future (BZh-6 was checked out for functionality by Sharipov on 4/7-8). As of last night, the pressure onboard the ISS was within Flight Rule limits, and specialists believe another O2 repress from 17 Progress tanks may be necessary over the weekend ahead."
Keith Cowing: April 2005 Archives
Report contradicts Bush NASA plan, Daily Press
"NASA should spend billions more dollars on aeronautics research to keep the United States from slipping further behind Europe, according to a new strategic plan prepared for Congress. If implemented - and that's a big if - the plan would restore aeronautics funding to 1998 levels and likely soften drastic budget cuts that the Bush administration has planned for NASA Langley Research Center, industry observers say."
"MR. HALE: Well, I'd just say that one of the things we've learned, or I've learned anyway, is you have to be very careful with your every-day intuition in this business because what we're dealing with defies every-day intuition, whether you're talking about orbital mechanics or in fact ice."
"[Griffin] Part of the problem, I think, is that as the decades have gone by, when we have been able to do human space flight, we've come to accept it as more or less routine. From an engineering point of view, it isn't. When some of us--some of you weren't even born, but when some of us were, say, 12 years and we launched Alan Shepherd (sic), everybody knew that Al was risking his life. That's why they were heroes. The people who get on the shuttle today and fly it or who have flown it, such as my compatriot here, are every bit as much heroes as Al Shepherd (sic), Gus Grissom, John Glenn on his first flight, every bit as bold, courageous, and risk-taking, as were the astronauts of a generation or two generations ago."
"The Stafford-Covey Return to Flight Task Group is postponing its public meeting and news conference scheduled for Friday, May 6, in Houston. New dates for a public meeting and media briefing have not been set."
Editor's note: commenting on this release, Sen. Hutchison's press officer, Chris Paulitz, added "Last night, when Sen. Hutchison spoke with Dr. Griffin, she told him she worked hard to get him confirmed quickly just for this purpose -- so he would have ample time to look at the systems thoroughly before launch. This is exactly why, as subcommittee chair, she worked so hard to get him confirmed in a timely manner through her committee."
"- Dr. Griffin also talked about the New York Times story that referenced internal documents forwarded to Times reporters. The documents indicated NASA had changed at least some of the statistical methods used to understand the risks of ice, foam insulation, or other launch debris impacts. The fact that the documents were leaked did not matter to Dr. Griffin, as it cannot be stopped anyway. However he said that when we talk about changing the NASA culture, he would like to change the "need" to leak information."
Editor's note: The following appears in Space News: "According to sources closely tracking the effort, Shank and senior NASA officials met behind closed doors April 22 to discuss what to do about the current CEV solicitation. Notably absent from the meeting was Craig Steidle, NASA's associate administrator for exploration systems, who was taking a personal day while options were being discussed about the single biggest acquisition managed by his organization."
According to knowledgeable NASA sources, Steidle's staff actually readjusted his schedule several times - because Mike Griffin's office changed this meeting date several times. In the end, Steidle was not able to adjust his schedule to make the final meeting date due to a previous appointment.
Editor's note: In addition, NASA sources note that Steidle met with Mike Griffin for more than 2 hours on 21 April. This is all in sharp contrast to what is hinted at by Space News. Curiously, NASA PAO did not try (or care enough) to fix this published misinterpretation of Steidle's participation in these important discussions - even though internal meeting minutes (below) provide an explanation:
"- [Dr. Griffin] apologized to Craig Steidle for scheduling a meeting with him, which caused Adm. Steidle to cancel an event on his calendar. Dr. Griffin later had to cancel the meeting."
"As I'm sure you are aware, there are a number of acceleration actions being implemented at the request of the NASA Administrator. Many of these involve acquisition approaches and planning (including schedules) for major systems developments by ESMD. As a result, it is premature to continue with the previously planned Intramural Call for Proposals (ICP) and the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the Exploration Systems Research and Technology (ESR&T) and Human Systems Research & Technology (HSRT) programs until we can be assured that our technology investments are properly aligned."
Editor's update: NASA will hold a press conference on Friday at 10:30 am EDT at NASA Headquarters with Bill Readdy and Mike Griffin. This will be followed at 11:30 am EDT by another press event from Johnson Space Center. Both events will air live on NASA TV.
Editor's note: Around 6:00 pm EDT Thursday evening NASA decided to delay the launch of STS-114 until July. The new launch window extends from 12 - 31 July. Although NASA will eventually have to roll Discovery back to the VAB for External Tank modifications, it is not likely to do so right away. Instead, NASA will continue to conduct tests at the pad to better understand several anomalies observed during tests last week - tests that could only have been done at the pad.
Editor's note: As part of the termination of NASA's current Roadmapping activity, NASA personnel have been briefing Liam Sarsfield, a Rand Corp consultant to Mike Griffin, as to what their various committees accomplished. A new, much smaller and streamlined roadmapping team is being assembled to go over the earlier work done in the previous, more expansive Roadmapping effort. Their task is to come up with an end product that is much more streamlined and timely than the ponderous output the original Roadmap activity seemed to be heading toward. Among the expected participants in the new effort: John Young, Jay Greene, and Bob Sieck. Despite the termination of the current Roadmapping effort, a half dozen or so Roadmapping committee meetings have yet to be cancelled. In addition, word apparently did not get to Al Diaz as he prepared to testify before Congress. If you read his prepared statement for his appearance at House Science Committee hearings on Thursday, there is still a 6 paragraph description of the old Roadmapping effort.
"Update on Elektron: This morning s attempt at reactivating the Elektron was not successful. Telemetry data are being analyzed at present, to assist in the development of further troubleshooting steps.
Update on SKV Dehumidifiers: The Russian air conditioners are still not producing water for the condensate recovery system."
Life Science Research on Space Station Is Headed for Big Cuts, Science (subscription)
"Baldwin says the space biology effort would be "decimated" in the new plan. Both he and Charles Oman, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) aerospace engineer tracking the research plan, expect that the animal research facilities will be dropped. In addition, documents first posted last week by the Web site NASAWatch show that the agency will roughly halve the number of station racks in use aboard the space station to four; limit astronaut hours from the 15 hours planned to 10 hours; and slice funding for integrating the experiments into the racks by 38% starting in 2006. NASA Deputy Chief Scientist Howard Ross says that the document, to be completed next month, is only "for planning purposes." And he rejects the notion that the community has been excluded from discussions."
It is now acceptable to have a loss of science caused by either system failure, loss of detailed planning, or personnel error.
Maximizing planning to achieve the most out of crew time is no longer a requirement.
Customer Satisfaction is no longer a requirement."
NASA ponders launch delay, Orlando Sentinel
"NASA managers are close to deciding whether to delay the space shuttle's return to flight from May until July to reduce the risk of damaging ice debris breaking off the ship's external fuel tank."
Experts: Severe Budget Cuts Threaten Vitality of NASA Earth Science Programs, House Science Committee
"The bottom line appears to be that NASA's Earth Science program faces the prospect of being marginalized in the coming years as the agency puts its focus on the President's exploration initiative," remarked Ranking Member Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN)."
NASA Earth Science Programs to be Topic of Congressional Hearing, House Science Committee
"NASA proposes to spend about $1.37 billion on Earth science research in fiscal year 2006 (FY06, a cut of about $120 million, or 8 percent, from FY05 (or about $180 million, or 12 percent, below the FY04 request)."
"A leading panel of experts sharply rebuked NASA yesterday for canceling or delaying Earth-observing space missions, blaming President Bush's moon-Mars initiative for siphoning money from an environment-monitoring satellite system that is "at risk of collapse."
"The Russian cosmonaut said that it would be "desirable" for spacemen to have 50 milliliters of wine or cognac every day. "But only to improve our work, to better cope with the psychological stress," Sharipov said."
Editor's note: Perhaps this is a good idea. It sure beats the alternatives if on-orbit "psychological stress" is allowed to go untreated ...
"Talk with the patient while you are restraining him. Explain what you are doing, and that you are using a restraint to ensure that he is safe. Restrain patient using Gray Tape around wrists, ankles, and use a bungee around the torso. Administer 5 mg *Valium (Diazepam) Oral (P1-A12) - Sedative, (blue) anticonvulsant, antiseizure drug"
Editor's note: According to NASA sources, Mike Griffin killed the roadmapping activity today (Wednesday). Excellent move. These activities, as interesting as they were to listen to, simply went in circles and would have only provided output well after many procurement and architecture decisions (CEV for example) had already been made.
Alas, this effort is being terminated before it had been completed - and a product produced. The output of this process was supposed to be reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences. No word yet as to what NASA will forward to the NAS for review - or what they (and the Aldridge Commission) thinks about this truncated Roadmapping process.
Rotary space gala draws premier crowd to event, The Citizen
"House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was on hand to deliver the keynote address and NASA's new administrator, Dr. Michael Griffin, flew in from the nation's capital to introduce the congressman."
"NASA has concluded that Government personnel at Headquarters and NASA Centers will implement systems engineering and integration in Constellation Systems and other areas of the Exploration program. Consequently, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate will not be releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for an Industry systems engineering and integration contractor."
Editor's note:This solicitation notice, released just three weeks ago, was the product of many months of preparation - preparation built upon a year's worth of planning by ESMD. The justification for canceling this procurement activity cited is that "NASA has concluded that Government personnel at Headquarters and NASA Centers will implement systems engineering and integration in Constellation Systems and other areas of the Exploration program."
Didn't NASA consider this in-house option before releasing the Procurement Notice on 3 April? If so, then why did they ask contractors to jump through hoops and submit ideas? Or, did Griffin and his team make this evaluation and course reversal in the scant 13 days he has been Administrator? It is curious how a two-week evaluation of NASA's workforce (present and future) could trump a process that involved months of study and preparation. Although a source of potential good news for field centers looking to find work for its employees, this decision does seem to go against the outsourcing focus that NASA has been pursuing, as directed by the White House. I suspect there will be more dramatic alterations in how NASA will implement the VSE under Mike Griffin. Stay tuned.
60 Minutes, CBS
Wed., April 27, at 8 p.m. ET/PT: "NASA astronauts prepare for a historic and dangerous mission: the first space shuttle launch since the Columbia tragedy two years ago. Correspondent Dan Rather reports."
CBS promo pictures below:
"The world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, completed a maiden flight Wednesday that took it over the Pyrenees mountains, a milestone for aviation and for the European aircraft-maker's battle with American rival Boeing Co."
"Howard Benedict, who chronicled the triumphs and tragedies of America's journey into space in three decades as the award-winning aerospace writer for The Associated Press, has died. He was 77."
"Commemorative Wristbands Available at Homebuilder's Sales Centers; Americans Encouraged to Wear Them 'Until They're Home"
Editor's note: It is interesting - and refreshing - to see a company with no obvious stake in NASA embark upon a program to raise the public's awareness of space exploration - and to do so on their own dime.
NASA still wrestling with issues of safety, dissent, Knight Ridder
"Space shuttle program managers on Tuesday and Wednesday will try to answer a basic question: What's the precise risk of launch debris poking yet another fatal hole in a shuttle, as it did to Columbia in 2003?"
"The Stafford-Covey Return to Flight Task Group final public meeting is at 8:30 a.m. EDT, Friday, May 6. It will be followed by an afternoon news conference."
"All of this demonstrates how important it is to resist rather than acquiesce to harmful decisions within the Agency even when others appear resigned or compliant. Sustained criticism (positive and negative) from your Union and many individuals within and outside of the Agency has an impact and has helped (and will help) foster more intelligent decisions at HQ."
Editor's note: Why is HQ moving a part of itself 3.3 miles away? Cheaper rent? Wasn't the whole idea of going through the hassle of building a new headquarters building in the 90's to allow NASA HQ staff to be consolidated in one location?
From NASA HQ Heads Up: "Contact: Margie Team 358-0343 Effective April 25, five divisions within the Office of Infrastructure and Administration relocated to 1800 M Street, N.W. - Aircraft Management; Environmental Management; Facilities Engineering and Real Property; Logistics Management; and Management Systems."
"... We're going to be reviewing those [CEV] plans. If that requires that we delay the responses to the RFP that is out on the street, then so be it. Better to take a little time up front and get what we really want."
Editor's note: NASA and industry sources say that after an internal review, the 2 May CEV proposal due date will be maintained.
"This notice is issued by the NASA/GRC to post a Request for Information (RFI) and solicit responses from interested parties relative to the development of a future requirement for oil-free turbochargers. At this time, the Government requires Oil-Free turbochargers sized as direct replacements for the oil-lubricated version (Borg Warner S300) being used on Caterpillar's I6, 7-Litre, C7 diesel engine that powers the U.S. Army Stryker and FMTV's (Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles)."
Editor's note: Will someone please tell me what this procurement could possibly have to do with space exploration?
Editor's update: Prompt, informative relies from several NASA Watch have once again reaffirmed my ignorance as to some of the various things NASA does - and why.
"McDonald's congratulates NASA Astronaut and former McDonald's restaurant crew employee, Commander Leroy Chiao on a successful mission in outer space. Upon his return to Earth, McDonald's will present Dr. Chiao the flagship Big Mac sandwich and French fries in Star City, Russia approximately 40 miles outside of Moscow. The McDonald's meal will be one of the first meals on Earth Dr. Chiao will enjoy in nearly 200 days."
"Other committee members include: ... Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Missile Defense Analyst, Beverly Hills, Calif."
Editor's note: I can certainly understand the relevance of Mr. Baxter's tours of duty as guitarist in "Steely Dan" and "The Doobie Brothers" as rock music relates to space exploration ;-) but why does NASA need a "Missile Defense Analyst" on an Exploration Systems Advisory Committee?
From NASA HQ Heads up: "Date/Location: Wednesday, April 27, Suite 4G74 Contact: Margie Team 358-0343 Effective April 27, the Office of Infrastructure and Administration's front office will relocate to Suite 4G74."
Editor's note: Word is circulating that NASA will announce the winner(s) of the huge NASA IV&V service contract later this week. This contract has an estimated value (over 7 years) of more than $200,000,000. Stay tuned.
Editor's note: Noted physicist Philip Morrison died on 22 April 2005. Details to follow.
New NASA spots, current defense posts hang in the balance, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Within days, the federal government will decide whether Northeast Ohio gets a new NASA office center in Brook Park and keeps a Defense Department agency in Cleveland that handles payroll for thousands of service men and women and their families. The two facilities would have a combined payroll of more than $85 million a year."
Step by step, NASA is doing what it takes to 'fix the culture', OpEd, Sean O'Keefe, USA Today
"Of course, there are those within the agency and in the space-exploration community who still aren't convinced. USA TODAY recently reported the views of those who think NASA's culture has not been fixed. Debates have emerged, as reported Friday in The New York Times, on the methods for measuring the actions taken to meet the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. Such opinions show the dialogue is continuing."
"After traveling more than 78 million miles aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 10 Commander and NASA ISS Science Officer Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov returned to Earth today. With them was ESA Astronaut Roberto Vittori."
DeLay's Grab for NASA, The Nation
"Then in February, the Republican leadership reorganized the House Appropriations Committee. Authority for NASA was yanked from the subcommittee on veterans and housing and handed to the subcommittee in charge of the State and Justice departments. This was a promotion for NASA. It was also seen on Capitol Hill as an act of revenge. The reorganization plan, said David Obey, the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, was "simply payback."
Editor's note: The following summary of Sen. Allen's visit to LaRC on Friday was submitted by a NASA Watch reader:
"Here is a fairly brief synopsis of what happened today at NASA Langley Research Center. First it should be noted that there was never any official notification by NASA management to LaRC employees that Senator Allen was going to visit LaRC, meet with senior management, and then have a press conference outside of the main LaRC gate. The only indication was a sign inside of LaRC, which read "Welcome Senator Allen" or something very close to that. Fortunately, NASA WATCH, apparently based on tips from NASA employees (not sure how they knew unless they are some of the few in the know for these kinds of things), posted the news that Senator Allen was coming to LaRC for a press conference.
"On or about April 25, NASA will amend the ROSES 2005 NASA Research Announcement to postpone the solicitation of proposals in the Sun-Solar System Connection Guest Investigators program until after a senior review that will be held in fall 2005. No new proposal due date is being announced at this time."
"NASA's new administrator, Michael Griffin, thanked DeLay for his support of the nation's spaceflight efforts. "Whatever side of the aisle you are on, Tom DeLay has been a tireless friend of the agency," Griffin said."
Posted on the NSPIRES website:
"Discovery 2005 AO: The Discovery 2005 AO will not be released on April 22, 2005. NASA has received a Congressional inquiry regarding the guidelines followed, and decisions made, with respect to the Discovery 2004 AO. NASA will release the Discovery 2005 AO as soon as possible."
Editor's note: NASA JSC PAO is holding a telecon between the news media and John Muratore and Wayne Hale today to address issue raised in this morning's edition of the NY Times. The telecon was to start at 5:00 pm EDT. As has been the habit the past few years, an email alert - or, if it is really last minute, a phone call is made to alert the media to such events and how to participate and ask questions. Up until today PAO has been very, very good at keeping me on the list for such events. Not any more. I've heard that some feathers really got ruffled on the 9th floor this morning when they read NASA Watch.
Editor's note: I called down to JSC to see if I could participate (since the event had not yet started) and they told me "No".
"- Dr. Griffin is reorganizing the reporting structure so that the Center Directors report directly to Code A, a model similar to the aerospace matrix model that he is used to."
"- He is establishing an "Associate Administrator" position that will be responsible for day-to-day activities of the Agency. He and Fred Gregory (who will remain the Deputy Administrator) will focus their efforts on the external needs of the Agency, and the new position will focus on the internal needs. The position will be competed, and he does not have anyone in mind for this role. Courtney Stadd will act in that role until a permanent incumbent is named."
"- Previously NASA had one NASA Advisory Committee, and Mr. O'Keefe split the committee in two. Dr. Griffin is recombining the committee back into one committee, and he will select people that he respects as members. Also the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, which is mandated, will be staffed by people he admires and respects. He will be elevating their role and status."
"- ARC asked the new administrator what his thoughts were with regard to the Aldredge Commission Report. Dr. Griffin said the most controversial aspect of the report was converting Centers to Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs). NASA talked about converting Centers to FFRDCs when he was last at NASA, and he does not support the concept. There is a place for Government research facilities."
"- During his confirmation hearing, Dr. Griffin heard that NASA often meets itself in the marketplace. He explained that sometimes NASA people go to Congress with different stories. He stressed the need to communicate one story to avoid confusion. In the future, when someone goes to the Hill on a request from Congress, make sure that Code A, the Office of Legislative Affairs, and the Office of Public Affairs know so there is coordination of one NASA message."
"- Dr. Griffin will move the Office of Education under the new Office of Strategic Communications." and "- Joe Davis is the new AA for Strategic Communications."
Editor's note: Davis once worked as a spokesman for DOE. No word yet on who the permanent heads of PAO or Legislative Affairs will be. It would be really nice to see Grififn fix the dysfunctional relationship between these various facets of NASA's public face once and for all.
"Soyuz-215/9S Status: The backup/reserve battery of the Soyuz 9S vehicle is known to be degraded, with some unquantifiable charge remaining. TsUP/Moscow is considering a modified return/descent plan by reducing the time between undocking and landing, requiring lower-than-nominal battery capacity to reduce reliance on the reserve battery."
Allen, NASA Langley chief discuss budget, Daily Press
"Sen. George Allen met with NASA Langley Research Center Director Roy Bridges, several area city leaders and about 50 NASA Langley employees today to discuss restoring aeronautics funding to the 2006 federal budget."
Editor's note: According to email@example.com, Sen. Allen (R-VA) plans to be at NASA LaRC on Friday to speak with employees. Stay tuned for details.
Editor's update: According to LaRC Public affairs office, Sen. Allen will be holding a press conference in front of the LaRC main gate today at 2:15 PM.
"When asked how the Bush administration plans to address the looming four-year gap from the retirement of the space shuttle in 2010 to the first manned flight of the Crew Exploration Vehicle in 2014; a time when the U.S. will have no human access to space, its chief scientist had a two-word answer. Mike Griffin."
"Experts who have seen the documents say they do not suggest that the shuttle Discovery - scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on May 22 - is unsafe, but a small but forceful minority say they worry that NASA is repeating a practice that contributed to the Columbia disaster: playing down risks to continue sending humans into space. The documents were given to The New York Times by several NASA employees, who did so on the condition of anonymity, saying they feared retribution."
"James Wetherbee, a former shuttle commander and safety official who recently retired from NASA..."
Editor's note: No one - neither Wetherbee - or the reporter who quotes him - makes note that Wetherbee is currently being paid as a NASA consultant - and that he was hired to help JSC and NASA improve "culture".
"Please use this message as a reminder that one week from today, on Friday April 22, the ESMD ADBS Docking ICP Project is hosting a Docking Technical Forum across NASA Parkway from the Johnson Space Center at the Nassau Bay Hilton."
"- He is establishing an "Associate Administrator" position that will be responsible for day-to-day activities of the Agency. He and Fred Gregory (who will remain the Deputy Administrator) will focus their efforts on the external needs of the Agency, and the new position will focus on the internal needs. The position will be competed, and he does not have anyone in mind for this role. Courtney Stadd will act in that role until a permanent incumbent is named."
Editor's update: 21 April: Courtney Stadd now has a mail code/room location (9F44 - the Administrator's suite) and a phone number (202 358-1808). It would certainly seem like Stadd is working within NASA Headquarters - which is exactly what many people have been reporting. Curiously, no one has made any announcement to that effect.
Earlier post about Stadd moving (back) to NASA.
Editor's note: 17 April: Former House Science Committee staffer Chris Shank will start at NASA HQ on Monday working directly for Mike Griffin on the 9th floor. Word has it that Scott Pace, Liam Sarsfield, Jim Frelk (all ex-RAND alums) are moving up to the 9th floor - and that Courtney Stadd (who also consults for Bigelow Aerospace) may also come on board as a consultant to NASA - also on the 9th floor. His role would similar to the one he held under Dan Goldin: if not chief of staff, then at least something like that as the most senior advisor to Mike Griffin. The probability that Stadd will play some role seems rather high given that he has already been assigned a nasa.gov email address [omitted here to save him from spam] - one listed as "Organization: A, Employer: NASA uniqueIdentifier: HQ009859". Meanwhile, John Schumacher and Mary Kicza are moving off of the 9th floor. The reason given was rather straightforward: that more office space was needed for Mike Griffin's incoming staff
It is now acceptable to have a loss of science caused by either system failure, loss of detailed planning, or personnel error.
Maximizing planning to achieve the most out of crew time is no longer a requirement.
Customer Satisfaction is no longer a requirement."
NASA Redux editorial, Science (subscription)
"Bashing the president on his new exploration vision is probably a waste of breath. A more effective approach would be to insist that exploration is what NASA's science is all about, whether studying the oceans, extrasolar stars, or a Mars ravine, and whether it's done by humans or robots. Finding more money will be hard in a domestic discretionary budget squeezed by growing entitlements and the effect of the tax cuts. But the White House and the Congress must recognize that NASA's superb and diverse research programs should benefit from the president's vision rather than pay a price for it. Let's hope that Griffin, who once observed that the competition between robotic and human missions should not become a zero-sum game, will summon that same wisdom and diplomacy to keep the best science at NASA intact and thriving."
"[John] Clark, who was married to Columbia astronaut Laurel Clark, bristles when he hears culture gurus and NASA leaders constantly pointing out that change takes time. "Well, guess what? It never changed after Challenger, so the idea that you can't see these changes quickly - therefore, don't worry if you don't see them - that's the wrong answer," Clark says."
Question "...will you know or be satisfied that the cultural changes that some say are needed for safety are being implemented or will have been implemented to your satisfaction for flight?"
Griffin: "I don't know because I don't know how to measure cultural change. I--you know, culture is something that you feel, and I'm now reimmersing myself in the NASA culture after a departure of 11 years in which I was in industry and other government laboratories and other government operations. So I don't know how to answer your question."
"According to documents obtained by WTOP through the Freedom of Information Act, NASA cannot account for thousands of items in its inventory. Those items include everything from lawn mowers to rocket launchers."
"Please accept the fact that the Center grounds are not going to be kept in a manner that we are accustomed to and do not blame the Grounds and Landscaping Contractors."
"We recognize that, while Headquarters continues to assess the budget and scope of IAM, some of you have been compelled to react independently of an Agency budget decision. I can assure you that an Agency position is forthcoming; unfortunately, I cannot predict when that position will be announced. Given the sizable costs and the significant strategic impact of IAM, the decision will likely not get made until after the new Administrator is on board. Meanwhile, to protect the prerogatives of the new Administrator, we should not assume or act as if a decision has been made one way or the other."
Balancing the Right Stuff, Science (subscription)
"NASA managers insist that the president's vision is fundamentally friendly to science. "Science activities are built into the foundation of the exploration vision," James Garvin, NASA's chief scientist, told the American Astronautical Society at a 29 March meeting in Greenbelt, Maryland. He argues that exploration "is a scientific journey," citing the ambitious plans for lunar and Mars exploration. And Diaz notes that a series of "road maps" being assembled will lay out the long-term direction of science and be completed in time to influence the 2007 budget submission this fall."
"I don't think the roadmap activities are on a pace that is consistent with the decision-making that we have to do. I will probably be establishing focused, small teams representing the breadth of experience throughout NASA, throughout the centers and targeted other institutions as necessary, in order to be helping with some of these larger scale architectural issues."
"It will be part of JSC's educational outreach program, which seeks to foster the next generation of explorers by encouraging young people to study technical subjects. The facility will give area students an opportunity to see first-hand the importance of habitat conservation and protection."
Editor's note: This is the lamest attempt I have ever seen by NASA PAO to take some local community relations effort - one done at a NASA field center for overt, local political reasons - and contrive a link to the agency's chartered purpose - as if that is why the project is being done in the first place. Oh wait - don't they have longhorns at JSC too - hosted for the same purpose? Hmmm, can you eat these chickens? Then you could add life support and in situ resource utilization to the justification list too ...
"Marshall Space Flight Center will not have to compete with other NASA centers or aerospace companies for launch vehicle work, Marshall Director Dave King told a group of community leaders Wednesday."
Editor's note: Hmmm. This is interesting. Griffin now seems to be reversing the approach that had been taken prior to his arrival - i.e. that field centers would now have to compete for things. Either that - or he is giving MSFC some sort of special treatment. Also, it would seem that in some important ways, MSFC is now immune from the need to outsource. Here is what Griffin actually said publicly on Monday:
Space agency officials hope to cut layoffs, Daily Press
"Virginia Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Fairfax, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, expressed concern that anxiety over job cuts and a lack of information coming from NASA headquarters has dampened morale among NASA's employees. Wolf urged NASA officials to issue a memo to employees in coming weeks to update them on the status of job changes. He said employees face too much uncertainty over whether their jobs will be safe. "I've got to believe people are beginning to put resumes out on the street," he told Gregory. "Is there a comfort message here that they should hold off?"
3:53 pm EDT: Waiting 20+ minutes for telecon to start. PAO is having a problem rounding up the participants.
Bill Parsons: The DCR (Design Certification Review) was held yesterday. DCR went well. Bill Readdy, Mike Kostelnik, Mike Griffin and four Space Operation Center Directors attended.There was still some analysis that remained to be done prior to FRR (Flight Readiness Review). We also have some remaining debris work to do. After DCR, we decided to pick another launch date. 22 May is the new target launch date. Launch time is 1:03 PM EDT - with a 5 minute window.
Reader comment: "I am one of the 18 RIF-ed employees at NASA-Langley Research Center. There seems to be some double dealing in the whole matter.
"I wish to address the issue of "Fear of Reprisal" raised in the Daily Press article last Sunday with regard to the stand-down in our aviation organization in 2003. While I am not going to rehash all of the events mentioned in the article, I want to let you know that we have strengthened organizational and safety valves at the Center and put new ones in place that can be used to identify safety concerns without fear of reprisal."
Fear of reprisals, Daily Press
"Sen. Hutchison initiated the idea to pursue a national laboratory designation for the ISS. NASA officials noted that they had begun to look at long-term plans for ISS utilization in 2003. At Sen. Hutchison's urging, the officials stated they will revisit those earlier planning efforts."
"On Wednesday, April 20, at 9:30 a.m., the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics will hold a hearing to examine the future of the commercial space market and the government's role in that future."
18 will lose jobs at NASA Langley, Richmond Times Dispatch
NASA Langley hands out pink slips, Daily Press
"According to the center's director, about 700 government workers and 300 contractors may have to leave under President Bush's proposed 2006 budget. That would slash about a fourth of the 3,900 civil servants and contractors who work at Langley."
"Speakers from many walks of life will present stories of how space exploration led to products that benefit people on Earth, such as:
- Space suit technology that has given children afflicted with an unusual disease a new lease on life.
- Technology used to monitor astronaut health in space that has been used by doctors to help treat people in remote regions across the globe.
- Microspheres that have been used by industry to clean up major oil spills.
- Digital implantable hearing aid technology that has restored hearing to over 60,000 people."
Editor's comment: NASA needs to get some new spinoffs to hype. These ones are all at least a decade old and are quite stale. Indeed, given that NASA's new charter, the VSE, is centered around exploration - for exploration's sake - why even bother with pushing these quasi-relevant, often quasi-contrived spin-offs at all? But, if the ISS is also to do science other than that which is directly in support of the VSE, then shouldn't NASA be looking for better, more current public justifications for such research?
Editor's update: If you tuned into this morning's Senate hearing on ISS science, you'd have heard a rapid-fire recitation of very recent - indeed current - direct-benefit/spinoffs/dual-use technologies from Bill Readdy, Micke Fincke, and Howard Ross. It would seem that one part of NASA (Exploration Systems Mission Directorate's Innovative Partnerships Program Benefits Manager) does not know what other parts of the agency (ISS - Space Operations Mission Directorate) are doing.
"Arcata Associates, Inc. intends to negotiate on an emergency, sole source basis with Incucomm/Lone Star Aerospace LP, for Consulting Services to assist with development and execution of strategic Scenario Based Planning exercises to support NASA activities at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). Subject topics may include but are not limited to, agency transformation, space exploration initiatives and return to flight. The service provider must have demonstrated competence in analysis of both propulsion and communications systems, expertise in scenario based planning, and at least one immediately available senior level executive cleared to Top Secret - EBI level to act as a facilitator."
Editor's update: Why does someone need "Top Secret" clearance to provide MSFC with advice on "agency transformation, space exploration initiatives and return to flight" ?
Reader comment: "Answer: nuclear propulsion systems. Some people were all excited to work on Prometheus and JIMO until they got the clearance forms and read the "Adverse Information Act" that they would be required to sign and adhere to. There was an uproar."
Editor's note: Many of you may have noticed NASA PAO Chief Glenn Mahone's rather sudden departure from NASA. No, it is not, as this picture might suggest, because Glenn wanted to join a revival of Earth, Wind, and Fire. NASA Watch has discovered the true reason behind his departure: Glenn was beamed aboard a cloaked Romulan war bird in Low Earth orbit where he is now fulfilling a long time ambition: to captain a starship -- with live weaponry and all media editorial office locations loaded into the phaser targeting computers. [See enlarged picture]
Seriously, on a personal note: public affairs is a thankless job. For that matter, so is legislative affairs. I think the paltry, public farewell given Lee Forsgren and Glenn Mahone sucks -- big time. Sean O'Keefe did not do it this way. Neither did Dan Goldin (at least publicly). Regardless of what you think of their accomplishments, these two guys busted their butts on behalf of the agency. Indeed, I know: I have seen it with my own eyes. A short press release, without even the common courtesy of a one sentence commentary by the NASA Administrator, is not the best message to be sending to the NASA workforce as whole - especially when a RIF is already underway at LaRC - and the rest of the agency is jittery about ill-defined changes that lie ahead.
Mike: All NASA employees, regardless of rank, deserve a proper thank you for services rendered. Recall how Goldin treated you back in the Space Station Freedom days after you gave your job all that you could offer - with integrity. On your first day on the job as NASA Administrator you pledged to make all decisions regarding personnel matters in the open in a "humane" fashion. It would seem that you have already faltered on at least two accounts.
Editor's update: Well ... the folks on the 9th floor were not at all pleased with this particular post on NASA Watch. Indeed, they were rather upset. For this new executive staff to be this thin-skinned with regard to criticism, this early on - especially when thousands of NASA and contractor employees face imminent and possibly involuntary departure from the agency - is not a good sign.
"NASA Administrator Mike Griffin met with the press at NASA Headquarters for the first time on Monday - after only 3 days on the job. The rocket scientist/engineer in Griffin clearly stood out. When he knew something abut a topic - he was straightforward and to the point in his responses. When he did not know enough about a topic to comment, he admitted so, and said that he needed to study up before responding. Engineers like facts. Griffin clearly does not like to speculate at least in public."
"In my resignation letter to Administrator Griffin, I expressed the view that I've been privileged to serve and work with some of the most talented, visionary and dedicated men and women in public service. I have indeed been blessed and honored to work alongside such a wonderful cadre of professionals."
Editor's note: On personnel changes at HQ: Griffin said there would be some but would only provide specifics on one: that Scott Pace, "a non career SES", would lead a new Program Analysis and Evaluation Office.
On CEV acceleration: "we are going to rethink our entire program in that area because, as is well known, publicly released, we're talking about flying the CEV with crew in 2014. Members of Congress have indicated to me that they consider that unacceptable. People in the Executive branch have indicated that they think that it is not advisable. And it doesn't work for me either. So, we're going to be reviewing those plans. If that requires that we delay the responses to the RFP that is out on the street, then so be it. Better to take a little time up front and get what we really want."
On Roadmapping: "I don't think that the roadmap activities are on a pace that is consistent with the decision making that we have to do. I will probably be establishing focused, small teams, representing a breadth of experience throughout NASA - throughout the centers - and targeted other institutions as necessary in order to be helping with some of these larger scale architectural issues."
$200,000,000 - Telecom Tycoon Used International Financial Labyrinth, Washington Post
"According to SEC filings, Anderson later struck a deal for Feldman to resign as chairman, offering Feldman and his father a way to liquidate hundreds of thousands of Total-Tel shares at far more than the going price. The deal, signed on a day the stock closed at $12.25 a share, obligated Anderson or one of his companies to buy stock from the Feldmans for $16 a share. But before long, the deal was amended to involve another party: the Foundation for the International Non-Governmental Development of Space, a tax-exempt charitable foundation that Anderson created and presided over."
"NASA's first A-76 competitive sourcing decision is being implemented at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., to provide increased efficiency and cost effectiveness in the procurement of metal test article development and general and precision machining services for the Center. The organizational changes being implemented under Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76 require the use of reduction in force (RIF) procedures to accomplish 18 job separations."
"After a successful rendezvous, acquisition of the target spacecraft, and approach to within approximately 300 feet, DART placed itself in the retirement phase before completing all planned proximity operations, ending the mission prematurely. NASA is convening a mishap investigation board to determine the reason for the DART spacecraft anomaly."
Editor's update: The reason why no images were released - is because there were none. Getting the images was a balance between ground station coverage, DART's position, and its mission phase. Had an image been received, it would have not shown anything due to the events that had transpired. As for releasing data and updates, the problems with DART happened around 11 hours into the mission - late at night and they happened fast. NASA says that it got the information out - around 7:00 am local time the next day - as soon as people knew what had happened. Prior to the sudden shift by DART into retirement mode, everything had been going more or less smooth and and NASA's project manager said that there would have been little to report other than "things are going smooth".
Editor's earlier note: Why has there been no issuance of status reports on DART by NASA? I have looked at MSFC, HQ, Orbital websites - nothing - no reports after initial launch. No photos, videos, nothing. Go figure: a very cool, enabling mission and no one can tune in as it happens. Indeed, you'd think ESMD would be embracing this as the first mission on the way to implementing VSE.
Reader Comments (send yours to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mission: Cultural, Times Picayune
"The room, which cost $875,000 and took seven months to design and build, is at the heart of the cultural and organizational changes at NASA that were demanded by the federal board that investigated the Columbia accident."
Editor's earlier note: $875K? Gee, I hope the chairs are nice and comfy.
"The original papyrus documents, discovered in an ancient rubbish dump in central Egypt, are often meaningless to the naked eye - decayed, worm-eaten and blackened by the passage of time. But scientists using the new photographic technique, developed from satellite imaging, are bringing the original writing back into view. Academics have hailed it as a development which could lead to a 20 per cent increase in the number of great Greek and Roman works in existence. Some are even predicting a "second Renaissance".
Editor's note: Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs and Chief of Strategic Communications (acting) Glenn Mahone will be leaving NASA very shortly. Details to follow.
"Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs and Acting Chief of Strategic Communications Glenn Mahone and Assistant Administrator for Legislative Affairs D. Lee Forsgren announced today they are leaving NASA to pursue other opportunities, effective immediately."
Editor's note: Mike Griffin said that he'd be visiting all of NASA's Centers very soon. What questions do you have for him regarding your center? For those of you who watched Griffin's presentation, what did you think of what he said? Send your comments to email@example.com.
"I support the president's new vision for space exploration. However, it is imperative that we not forget the importance of aeronautics research to our domestic economy. NASA appears to be moving forward with a significantly reduced aeronautics budget and a new research agenda without having a firm road map for the future."
Wolf: NASA funding will be restored, Daily Press
"Congressman Frank R. Wolf , R-Va., chairman of the subcommittee on NASA appropriations, said he would restore the $54 million that would be cut under President Bush's budget proposal."
Reader Comment: "I am a NASA KSC employee and there is a new commercial for OnStar that just started airing that features the Space Shuttle. The shuttle featured in the commercial isColumbia and I do not have to tell you how much in poor taste this is. I realize that not everyone will recognize that it is Columbia, but for those of us who do (especially the families of the astronauts) it is offensive. I have e-mailed Onstar and I just wanted to pass this on to you in case you wanted to share it."
"Launch of Soyuz TMA-6 (Soyuz 10S) carrying the ISS Expedition 11 crew of Sergei Krikalev and John Phillips and ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori occured on time this evening at 8:46 pm EDT. This is Krikalev's sixth flight into space - while both Phillips and Vittori are both making their second trip."
"I am writing in regard to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) proposed FY06 budget. I understand that the proposed budget will cut nearly one third of NASA Ames' budget. This could result in the loss of more than 300 jobs at NASA Ames."
"Unless action is taken now to avert a financial disaster at NASA Ames in FY06, irreparable damage will be inflicted on the Center and its future viability. Three of Ames' most important core competencies are currently facing severe shortfalls which will require immediate assistance to enable them to fulfill the President's mandate of competition between NASA's Research Centers."
Letter from Reps Zoe Lofgren and Mike Honda to Rep. Frank Wolf, Chair and Rep. Mollohan, Ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, and Commerce, and Related Agencies
"As you begin deliberations on the Fiscal Year 2006 Science, Justice, State, and Commerce Appropriations bill, we write to bring to your attention a number of important issues that have arisen within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration since the agency was granted unrestrained transfer authority in the FY05 Omnibus Appropriations bill."
"Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, as in executive session, I ask unanimous consent that the Commerce Committee be discharged from further consideration of Michael Griffin to be the Administrator of NASA, and that the Senate proceed to executive session for its consideration. I finally ask unanimous consent that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, that any statements be printed in the RECORD, the President then be immediately notified of the Senate's action, and the Senate then resume legislative session.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered."
Klyde Morris has a few things to say about yesterday's confirmation hearing....
Editor's update: 8:00 PM EDT - Mike Griffin was confirmed by the U.S. Senate this evening. He may be sworn in as early as tomorrow (Thursday) morning - with an all hands to follow later in the day - or perhaps Friday.
"The U.S. Senate tonight confirmed the nomination of Dr. Michael D. Griffin as NASA's 11th Administrator. He is expected to be sworn in later this week."
"Dr. Griffin succeeds a close friend and former leader of my staff, Sean O'Keefe. Sean did an admirable job getting the agency's finances under control and, more importantly, holding NASA together after the Columbia tragedy. We were lucky NASA had such a leader during that trying time. At the Commerce Committee's hearing on Dr. Griffin's nomination I spoke of my recent travels with Sean, during which I was approached repeatedly by people who raved about Dr. Griffin. They all said he was the man for the job if he could be convinced to accept it. I am pleased the President appointed Dr. Griffin and I look forward to working closely with him and his team of talented professionals."
Editor's update: 6:00 PM EDT - According to a knowledgeable Congressional source, "there is a chance that Dr. Griffin's confirmation by the full Senate may happen tonight. It may be done by unanimous consent, without a committee vote."
Vote on NASA nominee delayed, Daily Press
"A Senate committee delayed a vote on President Bush's nominee to head NASA on Tuesday, after Sen. George Allen of Virginia complained that rocket scientist Michael Griffin didn't adequately explain his position on aeronautics research."
Editor's note: Congressional sources note that Sen. Frist has expresed interest in holding the Senate in session on Thursday to vote on Griffin's nomination. Formal swearing in for Griffin would be held on Monday morning, followed by an all-hands address to the agency. Those plans may now be slightly delayed due to Sen. Allen's actions.
Editor's update: Congressional sources tell NASA Watch that Allen's concerns about aeronautics have been satisfied and that Allen has released the hold he had placed on Griffin's nomination.
Editor's update: I just got a note (2:20 pm EST) originating from the Senate Commerce Committee: "Senate Commerce Committee Co-Chairmen Ted Stevens and Daniel Inouye have added the nomination of Dr. Michael Griffin to be the NASA administrator to the Committee's previously scheduled mark-up at 10am on Thursday, April 14 in room 253 of the Russell Building."
"We're still keeping the IAM project warm and humming, despite the recent sweeping of the grim reaper's scythe through the Program's budget, the detailing away of the IAM project manager, and no real decision made yet on our future. Leaves us in the somewhat odd position of having the GAO as our bedfellow for wanting to see the IFM Program through as originally designed."
Editor's note: A76 Metals/Machine shop RIF Notices were due to be issued yesterday. However, a last minute decision was made not to let them out on the same day that the incoming NASA Administrator faced confirmation hearings. Rest assured, they will be released - very soon.
Editor's update: The following message was sent out within LaRC to explain the delay in RIF notification:
The Office of Human Capital Management has completed the reduction-in-force required to implement the results of the Metallic Test Article and General and Precision Machining (MTAGPM) A-76 Study (also known as the Fabrication A-76). The delivery of reduction-in-force notices in connection with the Fabrication A-76 originally scheduled for Tuesday, 4/12 has been delayed per discussion with NASA HQ. However we expect to deliver the notices in the very near future but no earlier than Thursday, 4/14."
Editor's note: Earlier today, the online version of the New York Times posted an article on yesterday's NASA Administrator confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate. They included this picture of the "new Adminstrator" - Sean O'Keefe! The picture carried the caption "Sean O'Keefe, the new administrator of NASA, has outlined his goals for the space agency." The Times has since corrected its error. Oh yes, as several readers have pointed out - the photo was not taken on Capitol Hill, but rather in 2002 during a STS-110 briefing.
"Dr. Michael Griffin appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation this morning as President Bush's nominee to be the next Administrator of NASA. The questioning was generally friendly and to the point. Griffin did well and, it would seem, the committee will act to get a vote on his nomination expedited such that he might well be on the job next Monday morning."
-Sen. Hutchison Calls for NASA Administrator Nominee to be Confirmed by Week's End
- Prepared Statement of Sen. Barbara Mikulski
- Prepared Statement of Sen. Paul Sarbanes
- Prepared Statement of NASA Administrator Nominee Michael Griffin
Exploring the Universe, Roger Blanford, Physics Today
"What is to be done? First we have to adapt, not because we have somehow failed, but because the rules have been changed and there is no going back. We have to make the case anew for space science, using a different vocabulary. We have to explain why all science is exploration, whereas not all exploration is science. In particular, we must not allow science-the systematic and fundamental understanding of the world around us-to be redefined. We should be careful not to disparage the larger part of the vision, which may be unconcerned with science but which is a valid activity for NASA to undertake if it has a popular mandate to do so."
NASA's future lies on moon, Mars, USA Today
"The White House sees NASA's goals as set, says Keith Cowing, co-author of New Moon Rising: The Making of America's New Space Vision and the Remaking of NASA. "But Congress just sees this as the start of the conversation."
The event known as "Yuri's Night: The World Space Party" celebrates 45 years of human space exploration with parties all over the world.
"Recently there have been many questions raised about position descriptions and how to prepare or update a position description, or PD. A position description is required for every civil service employee on the Center. The position description is essentially a pay document which describes the major duties, responsibilities, and organizational relationships of the position. It also serves as the official record of the classification of the job, which categorizes, measures, and assigns a grade to the significant elements of the position."
"Date/Time/Location: Thursday, April 14, 9 - 10:30 a.m., MIC 5-B and Tuesday, April 19, 2 - 3:30 p.m., MIC 5-B
Contact: Brenda Spicer 358-1561"
"Contact: Mary Fenton 358-4817
NASA Internal News and Communications (NASA INC) has launched HQ Now, an online, monthly newsletter that replaces the previous Employee Times (ET) as a means of sharing information among all Headquarters personnel."
Lost in space, OpEd, Boston Globe
"NASA leaders should reject a plan from NASA's Earth-Sun Exploration Division to eliminate the modest $10 million spent on Voyager annually."
Our Incredible Shrinking Curiosity, Washington Post
"After all, can it be anything but foolish to turn a deaf ear to the most distant human-made objects in the universe -- devices that after nearly three decades of travel are now registering and describing for us the first ripples of interstellar space?"
Future of NASA/Ames hangs on winning new contract jobs, Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal
"As much as one-third of NASA/Ames' current $700 million budget will be put out to competitive bid next year, putting in jeopardy up to 800 federal government and contract jobs at the research facility, says NASA spokesman Michael Marlaire."
"Although we know much more than ever before in the history of the Space Shuttle program about the previously unknown or unappreciated risks and we've reduced the risk substantially, we must accept the fact that we can never eliminate all the risks. There can be no 'singing ourselves to sleep' that we've fixed everything possible, nor could we ever. Spaceflight, even more than aviation, has been terribly unforgiving of carelessness, oversight or neglect. So we must remain diligent, disciplined and vigilant."
Editor's earlier note: Assistant Administrator for Legislative Affairs Lee Forsgren will be announcing this afternoon that he is leaving NASA.
"... However, my responsibility to my family requires that I return to the private sector. I am leaving NASA to rejoin my former partner former Congressman Jimmy Hayes at the firm of "Washington Matters."
Editor's note: Code L Deputy AA Angela Diaz is going to take over Code L for the time being.
"Sol 446: Spirit and Opportunity use NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter as their main communications link between Mars and Earth. On April 2, Odyssey entered "safe mode," which is a protective state a spacecraft automatically enters when onboard fault protection software instructs the spacecraft to disregard its onboard sequence of commands and wait for instructions from the ground. As a result, relay communication with the rovers was suspended, and Spirit did not receive any data from sols 444 and 445. With an unknown status of the rover after its drive, the Spirit team restricted rover operations to remote sensing."
Editor's note: Well, after several odd, taunting emails from Alan Binder (who raised the Scott Peterson and O.J. trials to make some crazy point) I bought his book. Binder refused to have his publisher send me a review copy. Oh well. It arrived today. It weighs several kilos and has a cheap binding that begins to break the moment you open it. That not withstanding, a quick perusal for several minutes (there' s no index to guide you through this 2.5 inch thick, phonebook-sized tome) really provides some insight into Binder's bitter "author as victim" writing style. On page 722 he describes one NASA manager as an "incompetent jerk engineer". On page 710 Binder refers to another NASA manager as a "arrogant, fat little bastard" and after repeating this compliment dozens of times, adds "pompous" to his tirade on page 728. On page 421 he refers to someone else as a "back stabbing SOB". And so on. If I spent 5 more minutes I am sure I'd find more examples of gratuitous name calling. Clearly this book served as some sort of primal scream therapy for Binder. I bought it out of curiosity, but I cannot say that I would recommend it to anyone - certainly not for $40!
Crew: NASA's attitudes still need to change, USA Today
"Collins said that before relying on repair materials to get home, she would like to see them thoroughly tested. Her crew plans to perform tests of some repair techniques, then, after landing, hand the samples to engineers for more tests. "I have always believed that a repair method should be tested in the vacuum of space, brought back home and run through ... a test facility," Collins said.In February, astronauts said that rather than trusting an untested repair, they would prefer to use the space station as a lifeboat in an emergency. NASA estimates that Collins's crew could survive nearly seven weeks on the station."
"Los Alamos National Laboratory and Carbon Designs, Inc. (CDI), today signed a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) to collaborate on the development of ultra-strong fibers made of carbon nanotubes (CNTs). CDI will initially invest $2 million in this joint effort to develop fibers expected to be many times stronger than any current engineering materials. The long-range plan is for CDI, with LANL's assistance, to develop a supply of and production method for ultra-strong CNT fibers. According to Dr. Zhu, "The ultra-strong CNT fibers will significantly impact NASA's new mission in space exploration."
Topic Background: The Space Elevator Reference
"We found that the NASA Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) has not fully determined the most efficient and effective Agency-wide organizational structure and authorities for managing and executing IT operations, including ITS. The CIO has recommended an organizational approach and responsibilities for the Center CIO positions but left achieving that intent to the discretion of each center. According to the NASA Deputy CIO for ITS, only recently was an effort made to standardize responsibilities and authorities for each of the Center IT organizations."
"The operators of the Hibernia and Terra Nova platforms, after learning that debris was expected to fall within 27 kilometers of the platforms began evacuation procedures which included removing all personnel and towing the oil rigs to a safe distance."
"The test is scheduled for early Monday at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The regulator said it was in talks with U.S. officials to delay the launch or change the planned trajectory."
"Defence Minister Bill Graham said the United States has agreed to an indefinite delay in a missile test that sent officials in St. John's and Ottawa into a diplomatic scramble Thursday."
Space debris concerns ground a rocket, Globe and Mail
"Early yesterday, the U.S. National Aeronautical and Space Administration informed Transport Canada of the launch. The trajectory notification indicated that debris would fall off the coast of Florida and that the "booster would fall into the ocean south of Newfoundland," Mr. Graham said."
Editor's note: Isn't short notice just wonderful? I wonder if DoD thought about the economic consequences of shutting down a major portion of Canada's offshore oil generation capability - so say nothing of the added risk of short notice evacuation of hundreds of people.
"In the fall of 2003, the Cosmosphere's internal inventory uncovered irregularities - and further investigation showed items were removed from the collection and sold improperly."
Former Kansas Cosmosphere Director Indicted on Charges of Stealing Space Artifacts, U.S. Department of Justice
"Max Ary, the former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center has been indicted on charges of stealing artifacts from the space flight museum in Hutchinson, Kan., and selling them." ... "We are prosecuting this case on behalf of NASA and others who have intrusted valuable historical artifacts to the Cosmosphere's keeping," Melgren said. "It is significant to all Americans that the history of this nation's heroic exploration of space be preserved and retold to each new generation, and it is important to the citizens of Kansas that the integrity of one of the state's most valuable educational resources be protected."
Other Voices: NASA Langley's real problem?, Daily Press
"Now let's discuss what America's top scientists think of this "mission." The American Physical Society (APS) appointed a large committee of eminent scientists to do an intensive study of the "mission" last year. Their main conclusion was: "The scope of the Moon-Mars mission has not been well-defined, its long-term cost has not been adequately addressed, and no budgetary mechanisms have been established to avoid causing major irreparable damage to the agency's scientific program." (Emphasis mine)."... "The complete foolishness of sending men to Mars is shown by the outstanding success of two recent automated interplanetary missions."
Editor's note: Citing this truly awful and totally biased APS report is certainly not the best thing to use to validate your position. Moreoevr, dumping on the VSE is rather foolish as well inasmuch as LaRC is out trying to compete for some of that NEW MONEY - money that can be used to keep people at LaRC employed.
Here come the naysayers, NASA Watch
"A quick look at the panel who wrote this [APS] report - and those who reviewed it - doesn't seem to include anyone with human space flight background."
"This one day conference will focus on ISS cargo transportation and visiting vehicle integration requirements and is targeted to contractors and other government agencies interested in learning more about the potential future ISS Commercial Cargo Service (ICCS) requirements."
Recent NASA ARC all hands meeting with Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Anna Eshoo, and Rep. Mike Honda
Streaming video (RealPlayer required)
"Keith: I would appreciate your publishing the following statement below: With the exception of the factoid regarding my proud association with Bigelow Aerospace, your 4-5-05 rumint concerning my pursuing the #2 position at NASA is completely without merit. Honestly, if you had called me before publishing it, I would have told you that I am simply NOT a candidate. Instead, I would have confirmed speculation that I have been shamelessly promoting myself to head the valet service for Donald Trump. I can use the tips! Seriously, I have come to the conclusion that, to use a variation on a Robin Williams' joke, idle gossip is God's way of saying that certain people have far too much time on their hands. Thank you in advance for allowing me the courtesy of clearing this up. - Courtney"
Editor's note: I stand by my earlier post - and what a number of people have told me - BUT Courtney certainly knows best what his intentions are!
"I heard things went non-linear on the first day when [task group member] Dan Crippen basically led a revolt," against Tom Stafford and Richard Covey, the two former astronauts leading the group, the CAIB member told MSNBC.com on condition of anonymity. The revolt's basic premise, this source said, was that NASA was not ready to fly since "none of the hard recommendations have been met and NASA is 'diddling' with the numbers to make it appear they are working."
"The Elektron O2 generator remains off. The FE today performed part 1 of a functional checkout on an older spare liquid unit (BZh #6), supported by tagup with ground specialists. Both micropumps were diagnosed "with bubbles". More troubleshooting is planned for Friday (4/8)." ..."With the Vozdukh carbon dioxide (CO2) removal system turned off, Salizhan replaced the second LiOH (lithium hydroxide) absorbent filter cartridges (PP) and activated it. This is the second of 14 lifetime-expired but unused Russian LiOH canisters onboard."
"Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 10 Commander Leroy Chiao used a digital camera April 6 to photograph the rollout of the Space Shuttle Discovery at NASA's Kennedy Space Center from an altitude of 220 statute miles."
Editor's note:You can also view KSC's Shuttle launch pads using Google's new satellite imagery service.
"The Hubble Space Telescope program has been a fantastic program that has delivered images beyond our wildest dreams! It is performing beyond its original design life. NASA already has plans for a next generation telescope - the James Webb Telescope. Although we will have a gap of coverage, Hubble has delivered volumes of data that will keep scientists busy for years to come. NASA is planning the development of a de-orbit module, which I think is a wise way to proceed."
"It may be time for something like a Zero Based Review for NASA that would look at the entire organization down to the individual employee level. The goal would be to create a new, requirements based organization capable of fulfilling the exploration vision and NASA's other core missions.. It would involve quantifying the skills needed to man the organization and then putting people in positions that required their particular skill set.."
Risks remain as launch nears, Houston Chronicle
"We are being much more meticulous than we have been in the past," said Bill Parsons, NASA's space shuttle program manager. "I would says it's fairly 50-50 right now (that) we would make the opening of the window, but we will keep marching toward that."
"While workers at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida have done everything they can to get the Discovery ready, Mr. Parsons said, a series of minor delays have used up all contingency days allowed in the schedule for unexpected problems. He insisted that NASA was not rushing to meet a scheduled launching date, a practice for which the agency has been criticized because it compromises safety. "May 15 is just a goal," Mr. Parsons said."
"As Discovery and Atlantis are readied for their respective Return to Flight Missions, NASA is preparing to meet public demand to see the launches and missions. NASA's primary method for disseminating content is via the NASA Web Portal (www.nasa.gov). Based on data from previous missions (Mars Exploration Rover Mission, Huygens Landing, etc) we expect 20 to 30 million visits to the NASA Web Portal with 250,000 to 500,000 Internet users also accessing NASA TV coverage via Web Streaming."
NASA/Ames shake-up's fallout, SJ Mercury News
"Ames is shedding jobs in anticipation that it might lose as much as a third of its $700 million budget under a new federal plan that could force Ames to compete against other research centers and private companies for money. Aeronautics programs are taking a back seat to space exploration, given the Bush administration's push to travel to Mars and search for life on other planets."
Ohio card' played in NASA jobs fight, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Ohio Democratic and Republican politicians cranked up the fight for NASA Glenn Research Center Monday, telling 200 business leaders that proposed budget cuts to the federal space lab jeopardize national security and the U.S. airline industry."
Contractors casualties of NASA Glenn fiscal woes, Crain's Cleveland Business
"NASA Glenn Research Center in Brook Park, running out of money to get through fiscal 2005, has slashed the value of previously awarded contracts in a move that has caused about 70 contract workers to lose their jobs."
Calling on the Prez, Crain's Cleveland Business
"The road to the White House went through Ohio not the moon or Mars. For that reason, a group of state and local politicians say the state should reap the rewards of helping President Bush win the White House."
"In order to deal with these realities Agencywide, the Aldridge Commission recommended that NASA Centers be converted to Federally Funded Research and Development Centers and subsequent NASA teams are recommending that centers restructure to a "hybrid" form consisting of both civil service and non-governmental components. For research centers it was recommended that the non-governmental partner be a university-based entity like an institute or a University Affiliated Research Center. The new Langley that is born of this recommendation will have fewer employees, less infrastructure, and a smaller base budget."
Editor's note: Charles Elachi has returned to JPL, and is no longer managing NASA's Roadmapping activities. Mary Kicza, Associate Deputy Administrator for System Integration, is Acting Director of Advanced Planning at NASA HQ and manages all Roadmapping. No reason for Elachi's return to JPL has been given.
Editor's Update: According to NASA PAO, when Elachi agreed to take this position at HQ last year, he told Sean O'Keefe that he'd stay on until such time as the Roadmapping activity was fully underway. Now that it is, Elachi felt that he needed to devote all of his energies to being a center director. While serving at HQ Elachi continued to head JPL, making a once a week trip between Washington and Pasadena. Mary Kicza has been appointed acting director until the new Adminsttrator shows up for work and decides who they want to run that activity on a permanent basis.
"American researchers have hardly bothered to study the topic since the United States ended the Apollo program in 1972. And foreign studies on samples from the Soviet Luna program have been widely rejected on the grounds that the studies were flawed. Getting studies rolling again will not be easy. Laurent Sibille, a research scientist with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, estimates that researchers will need 100 tons of space dust for testing in the run-up to a new moon mission."
NASA HQ IFM Newsletter 4 April 2005, NASA HQ
"Would you like to complain about IFMP? Well here's your chance to let it rip. Or even, heaven forbid, pay a compliment....maybe we should have one of those "American Idol" type dial-ins every now and again...until then, here's what we'll be doing. Very soon you will hear much more regarding the Customer Satisfaction Survey that will be conducted by the Competency Center in mid-April."
Date/Time: Tuesday, April 5 and Wednesday, April 6, 1 p.m. NASA Heads up: "NASA TV will air two special broadcasts live from the 21st National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.: "Return to Flight - All Systems Go," April 5 at 1 p.m. and "The Vision for Space Exploration - Getting There from Here," April 6 at 1 p.m. View these sessions on NASA HQ Channel 3 or online at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv"
"NASA is managing transformation changes in an integrated and systematic way in order to ensure that its efforts will produce the results needed to prepare NASA to execute the Vision for Space Exploration. To ensure that all systems, processes, and behaviors that impact mission success are in alignment to drive and sustain real, enduring change, NASA is establishing new organizational constructs, policies, and procedures that reinforce desired ways of operating."
"- Based on current requirements, the cargo vehicle flight rate after Shuttle retirement does not meet the projected re-supply and return needs of ISS
- Requirement reductions alone will not eliminate the transportation shortfall; additional transportation capabilities will be required
- With retirement of the Shuttle, the ISS faces a transportation shortfall based on current requirements
- The ISS Program should continue to pursue alternate means to deliver cargo to and from the ISS
- Exploration systems should pursue the use of the ISS as an engineering/science test bed to develop and prove the systems and crew health measures required for exploration beyond low Earth orbit"
Evidence for a co-moving sub-stellar companion of GQ Lup, arXiv.org e-Print archive
"We present a companion of the \le 2 Myr young classical T Tauri star GQ Lup in the Lupus star forming region at 140 \pm 50 pc from imaging, astrometry, and spectroscopy. With direct K-band imaging using VLT/NACO, we detected an object 6 mag fainter than GQ Lup located 0.7 arc sec west of it."
Editor's note: In this space.com article: "EXCLUSIVE: First Confirmed Picture of a Planet Beyond the Solar System", posted on 1 April 2004 at 09:04 am ET, a claim of exclusivity is made - at least in the title. This was hardly an "exclusive" for space.com. The entire article (including a picture) space.com was referring to was published the previous day, 31 March, at 11:33:27 GMT on the arXiv.org e-Print archive for anyone in the world to download and see.
"Inspector General announces audit of the Integrated Asset Management (IAM) Project: ... The IG maintains its record-breaking run on the investigation of the IFM Program by announcing yet another audit, this time they are going to assess the adequacy of NASAs early planning for requirements and life-cycle operations for the IAM Project; specifically focusing on (amongst other things) ensuring we have effective procedures for planning and monitoring the development of the module, identifying all users, and making sure we have the right set of user requirements obtained following the right set of processes."
Editor's note: I certainly can't imagine why the NASA OIG would want to check up on NASA's financial management system! After all, NASA's IFM Program has been so amazingly timely, accurate, and ahead of schedule these past few years ... Now if only they could pay travel vouchers on time.
"So the fundamental question remains, do we have those qualities that made our ancestors successful?Do we have the judgment to weigh it all in the balance? Do we have the character to dare great deeds?
History is watching."
Mr. Wetherbee said that even after the Columbia disaster, NASA's management did not see safety clearly, and he noted that the previous administrator, Sean O'Keefe, had spoken about how much risk was "acceptable." "That's the wrong question to be asking," Mr. Wetherbee said. "The question we need to be asking is what risk is necessary, and how do we eliminate the unnecessary risk?"
Editor's note: Wetherbee is just being argumentative and playing with semantics for the sake of this interview. When you ask what risk is "necessary", and then eliminate "unnecessary" risk, you are left with some level of risk, which you obviously have to deem as being "acceptable" as you move forward and fly. That is what O'Keefe - and others - were talking about. If Wetherbee is suggesting that there is no risk in space flight that should be "acceptable", then Americans will never fly in space again - at least not on government vehicles. Is that what you are saying, Jim?
"As has been the case for the past three years, NASA's Space Shuttle family got together for a big meeting - NASA Integrated Space Operations Summit 2005 (ISOS). This year, in Nashville, they had a lot of new guests. The task before the attendees was to look at current human space flight capabilities and how they would need to be changed or "transformed" in the coming years to implement the President's new space policy."
"The NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) is hereby soliciting information from potential sources for Systems Engineering & Integration (SE&I) services in support of the NASA Exploration Initiative (EI), a multi-mission, multi-decade, human and robotic effort to explore the Moon, Mars and beyond using a spiral development process to introduce important new technologies as they mature."
"NASA/HQ Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) is hereby soliciting capability statements from interested small business (all types) sources for the Technology Transfer Transformation (TTT) project in support of the Vision for Space Exploration. This does not preclude a large business from responding."
"It's Mainly Just for Fun", Reason Magazine
Burt Rutan: "When people think of the Wright brothers they think of 1903. I think a more important thing to look at when you make the point you're making is 1908 to 1911, early 1912. We're talking about only a three and a half year time period that started when only 10 people had flown, and ended three and a half years later when thousands of pilots flew hundreds of airplanes in 39 countries."
"Yet another NASA source privately advised that the current flap was a part of the "hardball negotiations" but he revealed that NASA negotiators were pulling some hitherto-unrecognized aces out of their sleeves. This person, who requested his name not be divulged, said that the precipitating event was not next April's Soyuz mission, but a seat aboard the STS-121 shuttle flight now slated to follow the first shuttle mission in May. "In response to Russia announcing they will charge the U.S. for Soyuz seats after 2005," the source explained in an e-mail, "NASA is charging Russia for their nationals to ride on the shuttle."
"Generally one proposal will be selected at random for one grand grant and two runners-up will receive honorable mention in each opportunity, now to be called a drawing."
Water on Mars, Astronomy Picture of the Day
"Can you help discover water on Mars? Finding water on different regions on Mars has implications for understanding its complex geologic history, the possible existence of past life and the sustenance of potential future astronauts."
MSFC Activity Notice
Letter from David King, MSFC Center Director
"As many of you are aware, due to funding limitations, the Landscaping and Grounds Maintenance contracts have been de-scoped. This was a difficult but necessary decision in order to ensure vital center services continue to function normally in this time of scarce fiscal resources. As a further cost cutting measure and in keeping with our vision of growth here at Marshall, I am asking all Marshall employees, both NASA and contractors, to join me in a new cost-saving initiative. Starting today, I am asking that for the next 9 months, we all join together and not cut our hair.
"Despite suggestions in various news tabloids, project scientists were quick to dispell any suggestion that the branched structure seen northeast of the dam-like structure is a marina."
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION FAUX PHOTO CAPTION
Hydroelectric Dams on Mars
February 6, 1998
This picture of a canyon on the Martian surface was obtained a few minutes after 9 PM EST, January 12, 1998 by the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC), during the 85th orbit around Mars of the Mars Global Observer spacecraft. It shows the canyon of Dolls Vallis, one of the Martian valley systems cutting through cratered plains in the Yogi Berra region of Mars. The picture covers an area 9.8 km by 18.5 km (6.1 mi by 11.5 mi), and features as small as 12 m (39 ft) can be seen. The canyon is about 2.5 km (1.6 mi) wide. Rocky outcrops are found along the upper canyon walls; weathered debris is found on the lower canyon slopes and along the canyon floor.
While the exact origin of this canyon is still unknown, some features hint at the possibility that there was abundant water present on the surface during recent Martian history (at least as recent as last month when this photo was taken). Some scientists have suggested that the smooth, highly reflective surface seen within the upper reaches of the canyon could be indicative of a large body of standing water. This is supported by the fact that a large number of erosional features on the walls and surrounding plains have been interpreted as being the product of water-based erosional processes. Mission scientists are cautious, however, in assuming that this is an image of a Martian lake, noting that all of these images are preliminary data and could be due to a myriad of other natural phenomena. Indeed, according to the Project's Chief Scientist, similar large flat areas on the Moon were named after seas and oceans by early astronomers only to be found by later researchers to be dry dusty plains.
Another possible hint at water on Mars is the large semicircular structure which is situated within the canyon itself, one which resembles a dam. A number of scientists have suggested that this structure was formed as debris washed down the canyon during a series of catastrophic floods during periods when Mars climate was far more temperate. Although the structure does exhibit a rather geometric, constructed shape, scientists are reluctant to suggest that this structure is in any way artificial. Large structures such as dams would require a large work force and a substantial budget to complete. So far there is no evidence of any governmental organization or construction industry on Mars. Citing noted astronomer Percival Lowell's drawings of Mars, project scientists have noted that this is not the first time that human observers have looked at the surface of Mars and thought that they saw evidence of water management systems.
Despite suggestions in various news tabloids, project scientists were quick to dispell any suggestion that the branched structure seen northeast of the dam-like structure is a marina. In making this statement, project scientists point out that there is very little air on Mars and that sailboats would be impractical nor is there enough Oxygen to support the internal or external combustion engines used in powerboats.
NASA scientists will continue to analyze this image but urge caution in the interpretation of these preliminary pictures. Only when NASA's sample return missions have landed and returned their cargo to Earth for analysis will NASA be able to make a formal announcement regarding the nature of these features.
"While investigating ways of taking proactive steps to generate funding to forestall planned reductions in research jobs, some entrepreneurs at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland have taken to heart the new initiative on NASA branding which recently came down from headquarters: 'In order to sustain the positive brand equity, knowledge about NASA must be built in semantic memory.' "
"Effective today, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has transferred ownership of the Hubble Space Telescope to the small internet firm SLOOH.com."
"NASA has just announced it's teaming up with French boat manufacturer, Lagoon, to build the world's first 'space' catamaran which will be deployed for recreational and exploratory use on Mars by the year 2020."
Editor's note: Space Daily posted an April Fool's day Hoax (Bush Cancels Space Shuttle Program) and EADS Space fell for it, Click on image to enlarge