Keith Cowing: December 2006 Archives

NASA Story Ideas - Human Interest, NASA PAO

Doug Cooke, Deputy Associate Administrator Weekend yachting: Cooke has sailed and designed at the America's Cup level, travelling all over the world.

Cris Guidi, Ares Program Executive Greek marathon participant

Editor's note: One would think that NASA PAO would be encouraging government officials to focus their time during work hours talking about their job responsibilities - not their hobbies.

We will need specifics to evaluate proposal, editorial by Rep. Bart Gordon

" ...we will need more specifics from NASA and the president to fully evaluate the current moon base proposal for its value, feasibility and, of course, affordability. If a return to the moon is really the president's priority, he needs to come up with the funds required, not simply take money from NASA's other core missions and programs."

NASA's vision lost on Web generation, AP

"NASA's new vision of sending astronauts back to the moon by 2017 and eventually on to Mars, recent surveys show. Concerned about this lack of interest, NASA's image-makers are taking a hard look at how to win over the young generation -- media-saturated teens and 20-somethings growing up on YouTube and Google and largely indifferent to manned space flight."

Observations from the Second Space Exploration Conference: Listening to the Next Generation

"Keeping the past achievements of NASA in mind as we return to the Moon is important, but it should not define the agency as it is currently doing. To attract the future generation of explorers, NASA needs to establish itself as the agency of the future, not the agency of the past. A return to the Moon is merely the stepping stone necessary to set foot on Mars and beyond, but advertisements would have the audience think the return to the Moon is the main goal of the VSE."

Reader note: A cute webcomic on YouTube Moon landing comments you might appreciate:

Marshall engineers set to refine rocket design, Huntsville Times

"We aren't even through with the design yet," he said. "There's no vehicle on a launch pad, and I'm confident by the time the Ares is stacked, it will have the power there the day we go fly it."

Editor's note: If the Ares 1 indeed has the power it needs to loft Orion, one would think that Dave King would be clamoring to say so. Since he doesn't say so, one has to assume that this is still an issue being worked.

Orion On Track But Overweight; Funding Crunch Could Hit In '07, Aerospace Daily

"NASA's Orion crew exploration vehicle remains on schedule to carry humans to the International Space Station no later than 2014, and possibly earlier, but it will need to go on a New Year's diet to lose about 3,000 pounds of excess weight."

Big Problems With the Stick, NASA Watch

"Sources inside the development of the Ares 1 launch vehicle (aka Crew Launch Vehicle or "The Stick") have reported that the current design is underpowered to the tune of a metric ton or more. As currently designed, Ares 1 would not be able to put the present Orion spacecraft design (Crew Exploration Vehicle) into the orbit NASA desires for missions to the ISS."

Selected Quotes From 2006

AIP FYI #144: Of Note: S&T Policy Quotations of 2006

"Yes, there are winners, but also many losers." - Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), Ranking Minority Member on Science Committee on the Administration's FY 2007 S&T request

"I have to say, this is probably the most depressing hearing I've sat through." - Rep. Gordon discussing proposed FY 2007 NASA science budget.

"We . . . have created an irrational exuberance." - NASA Administrator Michael Griffin on space science researchers' expectations for future budgets

"The plain fact is that NASA simply cannot afford to do everything that our many constituents would like the Agency to do." - NASA Administrator Griffin

"Is this going to be a techno-whoops?" - Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) on the space station program

"If you allow the [NASA] workforce to disappear from 2010 to, say, 2015 or 2020, you can never replace these people. The expertise that you lose cannot be put back together again. Once Humpty Dumpty and the skilled workforce is dead and depleted, you can never put it back together." - Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) speaking in opposition to amendments to shift FY 2007 NASA funding

Editor's 18 Dec 2006 note: Based on some comments made recently by OMB Deputy Director Clay Johnson, there is not a lot of enthusiasm for what NASA is doing - especially the Vision for Space Exploration - at OMB.

Go to Government Executive's TV page - specifically, the Leadership series. Go to "A Look at 2007 Agenda" (12/06/06) - and then head for the 'discussion' portion of the event (link is in the media player box).

Johnson comments on NASA: "Is anyone from NASA here?" {pause - and laughter} - no answer. "Perfect. Can I edit the tape of this thing before ... I take exception with ... personally, I am a reform movement of one ... with a lot of NASA's mission statements - they want to be 'number one' - and they want to explore the heavens ... and they wanna ... what kind of a goal statement is that? How can you be held accountable for that? NASA officials - and the President - my good friend as you say - talk about where 'we are destined to explore the stars' and 'we are hard wired to explore over the horizon' and that we are 'just a people that just likes to explore' - {frown on his face} That's baloney!"

After trashing the initial premise for the VSE (as announced by the President in 2004), Johnson then goes on to talk about how investment bankers bankrolled Columbus, Magellan, and Lewis & Clark - and that it was 'real estate' that was behind all of that exploration. He then proposed that future expeditions be partially funded by the private sector.

There is lots of interesting - and confusing - thoughts to be found within Johnson's comments. I am certain, in retrospect, that Johnson wishes that he had indeed been able to edit the tape.

President Bush Signs Executive Order Establishing National Aeronautics Research and Development Policy

"President Bush signed an Executive Order (EO) establishing the nations first Aeronautics Research and Development Policy. The EO was accompanied by release of a supporting Policy document developed by the Aeronautics Science and Technology (S&T) Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The overarching goal of the Policy is to advance U.S. technological leadership in aeronautics by fostering a vibrant and dynamic aeronautics research and development (R&D) community that includes government, industry, and academia."

National Aeronautics Research and Development Policy
Executive Order: National Aeronautics Research and Development

Editor's 21 Dec 2006 note: Once again the White House has slipped a policy related to NASA's Charter out the back door while no one was looking. NASA posted links to these materials on its website but apprently does not see any value in issuing a press release. This is rather odd given all of the talk by Mike Griffin - before Congress - about the need for such a policy. Yet despite this oversight, PAO did manage to get a release titled "NASA's KSC Providing Assistance to Santa on Christmas Eve" out to an eager world.

Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow 20 October 2006: NASA Excerpt

"Q Tony, can you say a few words about the new Bush space policy that was released, strangely enough, on a Friday afternoon before Columbus Day, on the website of the Office of Science and Technology --

MR. SNOW: You mean the strategy that, strangely enough, was announced in July?

Q No, it was put on the website on the weekend of Columbus Day."

Why is NASA so Shy ABout Promoting the News White House Space Policy?, earlier post

OMB Deputy Director Johnson Thinks NASA's Mission Statements are "Baloney"

President George W. Bush To Close Federal Offices in Tribute to Former President Gerald R. Ford, OPM

"By Executive Order of President George W. Bush, all executive departments, independent organizations and other agencies of the Federal government shall be closed on Tuesday, January 2, 2007, as a mark of respect for Gerald R. Ford, the 38th President of the United States."

Russia Won't Transfer Space Technology, AP

"Anatoly Perminov, chief of Russia's Federal Space Agency, said Moscow and Beijing would cooperate in robotic missions to the moon. He added, however, that Russia would maintain restrictions on sharing technology. Russia sold China the technology that formed the basis of its manned space program, which launched its first astronaut in 2003 and two others in 2005. The Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft closely resembles the Russian Soyuz."

Discovery Lands In Florida

NASA Space Shuttle Status Report 22 December 2006 - 5 p.m. CST

"The crew of Space Shuttle Discovery made it home in time for Christmas, gliding to a perfect landing as the sun set over NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Discovery touched down on Runway 15 of the Shuttle Landing Facility at 4:32 p.m. CST. The crew had spent 12 days, 20 hours and 44 minutes in flight. Discovery's nose gear touched down at 4:32 p.m. exactly, and the shuttle's wheels came to a stop 52 seconds later."

Coalition Webste Relaunched

Coalition for Space Exploration Launches New Web Site

"The Coalition for Space Exploration today launched its new Web site, which can be found online at ."

"I'm as big a fan of manned space flight as anyone, but I'm disappointed that the official NASA wall calendaronly shows pictures of manned space flight. Sure, that's what the bureaucracy is there for - but why can't we see the glorious results from the robotic systems? Last year, since I couldn't find a decent Cassinior Mars Rover wall calendar, I decided to make my own. This year Cafe Press has a new, larger calendar format, and I hope you'll agree the results are stunning."

Calendars are available here.

Bad Budget News For NASA

NASA Internal Memo: Preliminary Assessment - Implications of Full-Year FY 2007 Continuing Appropriation for NASA

"On December 11, 2006, Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) and Congressman David Obey (D-WI), who will lead the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations in the new Congress, announced their intent to pass a year-long joint resolution to complete the FY 2007 appropriations process, with no earmarks.

NASA has been informed by Committee staff that the assumption for the full-year FY 2007 joint resolution is expected to be the "current rate," defined as FY 2006 enacted levels, minus FY 2006 emergency supplemental appropriations. Committee staff have indicated that they will consider some exceptions to this formula."

Shuttle Discovery may land at White Sands, Las Cruces Sun-News

"Chances of a Friday or Saturday shuttle landing at White Sands Space Harbor are greater than they have been since the shuttle landed at White Sands almost 25 years ago. Poor weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and at Edwards Air Force Base in California, could force NASA officials to land Discovery in New Mexico. Personnel at White Sands Missile Range and Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo began preparations for a possible shuttle landing Friday afternoon."

Mission Status Report: GeneSat-1 Status Report: 19 Dec 2006 12 noon PST (Mission Day 4; Biology Experiment Day 2)

"The results to this point are nothing short of SPECTACULAR!! All the subsystems appear to be performing flawlessly. Optics are making stable measurements, fluidics have fed the E. coli, the bugs are growing well and GLOWING, temperature, pressure, and humidity are stable at the right values."

Mission Status Report: NASA Starts Experiment on Orbiting GeneSat-1 Satellite

Mission Status Report: NASA's Orbiting GeneSat-1 Radios Date to Team on Earth

STS-116 Leaves New Truss Segment, Crew Member With Station

"The STS-116 crew's stay at the International Space Station came to an end Tuesday when Space Shuttle Discovery undocked at 5:10 p.m. EST. During its eight-day visit, the STS-116 crew added a new truss segment to the station, delivered a new crew member and rewired the orbital outposts power system."

Earlier ISS and Shuttle news

Editor's note: Just in case you missed this one from Sunday's edition of the Washington Post and this one from the Denver Post.

Editor's note: Shortly after the public announcement Monday morning that NASA Ames Research Center and Google had reached a far-ranging agreement on a series of joint projects, astronauts aboard the International Space Station began to experience a series of troublesome computer glitches.

Upon receipt of an urgent message to Mission Control from the ISS crew the MMT immediately scheduled an emergency session to assess the situation. Eventually, the situation was resolved. Astronauts now report a dramatic improvement in their ability to find things on the ISS.

Google's software is now in complete control of the ISS. NASA released an image of the new software in operation this evening.

Indeed, it was also revealed today that the Shuttle fleet is also adopting Google branding.

Pete Wardon's Holideck

NASA Launches Google Collaboration, Washington Post

"Ames chief S. Pete Wardon said that NASA has also converted video from the Apollo missions to the moon into digital form, and in the future those images could also be available for viewing online. "The goal is to allow the public to feel they are virtually there," Wardon said, likening the Internet initiative to the fictional "holideck" virtual-reality chamber of the "Star Trek" television series."

Editor's note: Um, Its "Worden" not "Wardon" and "holodeck" not "holideck"...

Reader note: "That reporter has apparently spent too much time at Holiday Inn hotels, where the pool and recreation area is called the "Holidome" at some properties."

Google Announcement Reaction

NASA Launches Google Collaboration, Washington Post

"The agreement was announced at NASA's Ames Research Center in California. Google had previously announced plans to build a 1 million-square-foot facility at the research park. But while Google will be the first major online collaborator with NASA, the agency said that the images are not exclusive and that it is working on similar projects with other Internet portals."

Touring space with Google, NASA, SJ Mercury News

"As an example of what they envision, NASA officials cited the Global Connection Project ( created by NASA, Google, National Geographic and Carnegie Mellon University. Using Google Earth satellite imagery, the Global Connection site provides close-up still images of natural disaster areas so emergency personnel can better see what help is needed and how to get supplies to the hardest-hit areas."

NASA and Google to Bring Space Exploration Down to Earth, NASA

"NASA Ames Research Center and Google have signed a Space Act Agreement that formally establishes a relationship to work together on a variety of challenging technical problems ranging from large-scale data management and massively distributed computing, to human-computer interfaces."

NASA Ames Schedules Briefing to Discuss Google Agreement

"NASA Ames Research Center hosts a media briefing Monday to discuss a major announcement involving Google, Inc. 11:00 a.m. PST, Monday, Dec. 18, 2006."

Major NASA - Google Announcement Planned, SpaceRef

"This announcement will unveil a NASA/Google collaboration that is rather unique - indeed exciting. This agreement represents a significant advance for how the agency might collaborate with the private sector in the future - specifically as to how the agency takes its vast collection of data and imagery and makes it more easily available to the world. Among the details of this new cooperative project, Google will be contributing funding to support NASA employees - and not just at ARC - but at other NASA centers as well."

International deals to mold lunar base use, Huntsville Times

"Congress and other nations are likely to judge NASA on how well it manages the cost and development of the space station, said Keith Cowing who runs the online watchdog site "When real planning for a lunar base kicks off, the space station will have truly come into its own," Cowing said. "The International Space Station will be a big issue that paces the development of a lunar outpost. It won't be like other NASA programs; I don't think Congress is just going to hand over a blank check when it comes to a lunar outpost."

GeneSat-1 is Operational

Mission Status Report: NASA's Orbiting GeneSat-1 Radios Date to Team on Earth

"The GeneSat-1 ground control station at NASA Ames will receive data radioed from the micro-laboratory after it has completed its observations and tests of the bacteria inside. The biological test will last only 96 hours, but the GeneSat-1 team will evaluate the stability of the orbiting payload's systems for four months to a year. The Small Spacecraft Office at NASA's Ames teamed up with industry and local universities to develop the fully automated, miniature GeneSat spaceflight system that provides life support for small living things."

GeneSat Mission Dashboard, Santa Clara University

GeneSat1, Real Time Satellite Tracking, NORAD ID: 29655 Int'l Code: 2006-058C

Where is GenSat1?

Why the moon? And why Mars?, St. Petersburg Times

"Griffin: You mentioned a lunar base. What we're talking about there is a man-tended research station ... very much like what we see in Antarctica today. But what I'd say is hit the rewind button. ... Humans had been to Antarctica in 1912 ... And then nobody went again for 40 years. And when we went back it was with completely different technology and with research in mind and a long-term presence....That's the kind of thing we're talking about on the moon. By the time we go back it will be 50 years since we've been and we'll be going back with different technology and in much greater force."

Transcript of PBS NewsHour Interview with NASAWatch. com Editor Keith Cowing 5 December 2006, PBS

" ... And this is not unlike if you look at what we did in Antarctica. This is something very analogous, except it's in a much harsher environment and it's much further away from home."

NASA STS-116 FD-9 Execute Package

Reader note: Meanwhile the folks at Mission Control have engaged in a little Star Trek humor. Must be a slow news day

Scotty: I Need That CEV in 2010 Or We're All Going to Die!, earlier post

Reader note: "It's the first time I've ever looked at "execute packages", but I enjoyed their little bit of humor at the Pilot's expense. I hope he does too.

Starting with Flight Day 3, his name becomes ever more butchered. Look at the downloadable PDF for each of FD 3 through 9, page 5 or 6 (on the PDF) to see his name go from OEFELEIN, to Oafaline, to Ovaltine(TM), to Offal-lean, to Oxyclean(TM), Oh-Feline (Meow), to Billie Jean, Outhouse King."

STS-116 Execute Packages

Preparing for Space War

Talk of Satellite Defense Raises Fears of Space War, Washington Post

"Theresa Hitchens, director of the nonpartisan Center for Defense Information, said she found the tone and substance of Joseph's comments last week puzzling. "It is somewhat ironic that while he kept saying 'There is no arms race in space' -- which says to me no real threat in space -- his whole pitch was how we have to protect our satellites, including using weapons," she said, citing Joseph's mention of "active means" of defending assets."

Confusing Space Threat Verbiage, earlier post

Astronauts Rewire Station, Fourth Spacewalk Approved

"The STS-116 crew completed the rewiring of the International Space Station's power system during the mission's third spacewalk. Astronauts Robert Curbeam and Sunita Williams also relocated debris shield panels, attached a grapple fixture and performed a test on the partially retracted solar array before concluding the excursion at 9:56 p.m. EST."

Additional shuttle and ISS news

GeneSat Launched

NASA's GeneSat-1 Reaches Orbit on Air Force Rocket

"NASA's GeneSat-1 rode an Air Force rocket into Earth orbit on Dec. 16, 2006 at 4 a.m. PST (7 a.m. EST) from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. The satellite's locator beacon has been detected, and data has been received as GeneSat-1 orbits Earth, according to scientists."

View Launch Video

Editor's 17 Dec 11:00 am EST update: GeneSat was launched more than 24 hours ago - yet ARC still hasn't bothered to up date its own website to make note of this rather important event. The ARC home page has a link that says "GeneSat-1 Set to Launch on TacSat-2 Mission" and the GeneSat home page itself (which the NASA press release tells you to visit) still says "TacSat2 launch delayed due to technical issue with the TacSat2 spacecraft." ARC PAO certainly knows that the launch has happened. However, it would seem that they don't really care to let people know. Too bad. Smallsats such as this mission could mean a lot of exciting new work at ARC.

Editor's 17 Dec 8:00 pm EST update: ARC PAO finally got around to updating their websites to reflect a major news story affecting their center. If ARC wants to be positioned at the cutting edge of Internet technology ARC PAO is going to need to learn how to be able to update their website after hours and on weekends.

Wright Brothers Day, 2006 - A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

"Today, our Nation follows the Wright brothers' example of innovation as we continue to explore the frontiers of air and space. My Administration has outlined a vision for space exploration that includes a return to the Moon and a long term human and robotic program to explore Mars and the solar system. By working to expand the realm of the possible, we can gain a better understanding of the universe and continue the journey that the Wright brothers began more than a century ago."

WiFi Use Expanding at ARC

NASA ARC Internal Memo: Increased WiFi Access

"I am pleased to inform you that we now have wi-fi at the Tee Minus 1 Golf Course Clubhouse! Advanced Wireless Communication (AWC), a NASA Research Park partner, coordinated the installation of the service in less than 2 1/2 hours."

Editor's note: The cost of the WiFi was totally borne by Golf Course profits. No tax dollars were involved. While other NASA Field Centers struggle to keep up with state of the art communications capabilities, Ames manages to come up with innovative ways to keep pace.

Editor's note: I received an interesting response to my earlier posting "You Just Can't Trust Those Former Astronauts" from former astronaut Rick Searfoss:

Hi Keith. There's lots of stories of NASA Security SNAFUS that would be very amusing, if they weren't such a sad commentary on how clueless and worthless the bureaucratic side of the agency is. Here's one about current astronauts as "security risks."

Human Space Flight Requirements for Crew and Space Flight Participants, FAA

"The FAA is establishing requirements for human space flight as required by the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004, including rules on crew qualifications and training, and informed consent for crew and space flight participants. The requirements should provide an acceptable level of safety to the general public and ensure individuals on board are aware of the risks associated with a launch or reentry. The rule also applies existing financial responsibility and waiver of liability requirements to human space flight and experimental permits. Experimental permits are the subject of a separate rulemaking."

Live from the International Polar Year! Webinar with the Oden Expedition

"Join Teachers Ute Kaden and Allan Miller live from the Oden Icebreaker en route to Antarctica! The webinar interface, HorizonWimba, allows presentation of powerpoint slides over the Internet during a conference call, and includes other useful functions such as online chat and polling features. To take full advantage of the webinar you will need telephone and Internet access. If you do not have Internet access, however, you can simply join the conference call."

PolarTrec Forum

Allan Miller's Journal

No Mars Rover for Canada

Ottawa won't back Canadian-built Mars rover, CBC

"The federal government has turned down a request by Canada's space industry to support a contract that would have allowed thecompanies to build the European Space Agency's Mars surface rover, CBC News has learned. The decision stunned the companies and has left the ESA scrambling to find a new partner, as no European firm is adequately prepared to match the technical abilities of Canadian firms to build its ExoMars rover."

Spacehab Announces Results of Annual Shareholders Meeting

"After over a decade of service to SPACEHAB, President and Chief Executive Officer Michael E. Kearney announced his decision to retire from the Company effective December 31, 2006. ... Thomas B. Pickens, III will be the new President and Chief Executive Officer beginning January 1, 2007. Pickens brings 23 years of entrepreneurial experience with an excellent track record for creating and unleashing value for many companies over the years. He has served as a member of the SPACEHAB Board since 2003 and has been the Chairman of the Market Opportunity and Mergers and Acquisitions Committee since March 2006."

GeneSat-1 update: "3:15 p.m. 12/14/06: The Minotaur 1 launch set for Monday, Dec. 11 from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, has been delayed with Saturday, Dec. 16, remaining as the earliest possible launch date. Analysis and testing continue on the TacSat-2 satellite systems by researchers with the Air Force Research Lab at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. The launch window now extends to Dec. 22. The daily launch window is 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. As information becomes available, updates will be provided on this web site and on the Wallops launch status line at 757-824-2050."

Editor's note: Question for ARC PAO: ARC's GeneSat-1 is due to be launched on this flight. This smallsat mission is a big deal for ARC, right? Why haven't you been issuing updates and posting them on the ARC news page - or any other prominent pages? Indeed, does GeneSat even have a homepage on your website? Let me save you some effort: Wallops is doing it for you. Here is the link - here's another link at NASA HQ. All you have to do is cut and paste.

Editor's 15 Dec 3:00 pm EST update: After having nothing online, a series of links has suddenly appeared on ARC's home page and a press release has been issued.

Message from the ARC Center Director: Kick-off Event for Google-NASA Collaboration on Friday

"All members of the Ames community interested in the collaboration between Google and NASA are cordially invited to a kick-off event on Friday, Dec. 15, at 5:30 p.m. in the Exploration Center outside the main gate. A number of representatives from Google will be attending the event, which will feature a brief overview of the collaboration. Light food and beverages will be provided."

Editor's note: From what I have learned, this announcement will unveil a NASA/Google collaboration that is rather unique - indeed exciting. This agreement represents a significant advance for how the agency might collaborate with the private sector in the future - specificially as to how the agency takes its vast collection of data and imagery and makes it more easily available to the world. Among the details of this new cooperative project, Google will be contributing funding to support NASA employees - and not just at ARC - but at other NASA centers as well.

Alas, while ARC staff have been very creative in crafting this agreement, ARC PAO has dropped the ball once again. No one in the media seems to know that this is happening - tomorrow.

Editor's update: While this announcement will still happen, NASA ARC PAO now says it has been delayed until a date that has been "mutually agreed upon by NASA and Google.". ARC PAO"s Laura Lewis also chided me for posting an internal memo. I guess it did not occur to her that sending an email to several thousand people about a "kick off event" is tantamount to announcing it publicly since the memos get forwarded almost instantly. Indeed, that's the point of such widely distributed emails in the first place - messages that carry no admonition about further dissemination.

And oh yes - I almost forgot - that big banner near the ARC HQ building - the one announcing the "Google party" on Friday. Not exactly subtle, eh?

Editor's 15 Dec 4:30 pm EST update: NASA Ames Schedules Briefing to Discuss Google Agreement

"NASA Ames Research Center hosts a media briefing Monday [18 December 2006] to discuss a major announcement involving Google, Inc."

Geomagnetic Storm in Progress

NOAA SEC Space Weather Advisory Bulletin #06-5: Geomagnetic Storm in Progress

Joint USAF/NOAA Report of Solar and Geophysical Activity 13 Dec 2006

"Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected to reach major to severe storm levels. Activity from the CME observed early on 13 December is expected to impact the geomagnetic field by mid to late UTC on day 1 (14 December) of the forecast period. Major to severe storm conditions are expected to continue early into 15 December. Levels should decrease to unsettled to minor storming by 16 December. The greater than 100 MeV and 10 MeV proton events now in progress are expected to continue for the next 24 to 48 hours."

Remarks on The President's National Space Policy by Robert G. Joseph, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security

Editor's note: First he says: "But not all countries can be relied upon to pursue exclusively peaceful goals in space. A number of countries are exploring and acquiring capabilities to counter, attack, and defeat U.S. space systems. In view of these growing threats, our space policy requires us to increase our ability to protect our critical space capabilities and to continue to protect our interests from being harmed through the hostile use of space. To achieve this end, the United States needs to remain at the forefront in space, technologically and operationally, as we have in the air, on land, and at sea. Specifically, the United States must have the means to employ space assets as an integral part of its ability to manage crises, deter conflicts and, if deterrence fails, prevail in conflict."

And then he says this: "There is no arms race in space and we see no signs of one emerging.Instead, we believe our efforts should focus on ensuring free access to space for peaceful purposes and deterring the misuse of space."

I'm confused. Which is it? Threat or no threat?

Space tourist's computer skills could prove handy, USA Today

"The next tourist on the International Space Station could prove to be very useful. Charles Simonyi, one of the inventors of Microsoft's Word program, is preparing to travel to the station just as NASA stopped sending the orbiting laboratory Word documents out of fear of transmitting computer viruses. "We're not getting any (Word documents) on e-mail or in the daily summary," station commander Michael Lopez-Alegria grumbled Wednesday. He asked for an update on "where we are with this - I don't know if I can say it, but I will - virus situation."

Editor's note: In such a contingency, I'd rather send Steve Jobs (or Woz) and a half dozen MacBook Pro laptops. Then again, since they are Macs, you could simply send anyone to set them up ... no celebrity geeks required.

NASA JPL Internal Memo: Hold Order: NASA Inspector General Investigation of Censorship

"Caltech recently was notified by NASA that the NASA Office of Inspector General, at congressional request, is conducting an investigation into allegations of censorship of scientific information at NASA. As a result, Caltech/JPL must retain any government documents related to the matters identified below. This email constitutes a "Hold Order" regarding these documents and is being sent to those individuals who we believe may have had dealings with NASA with respect to NASA practices or policies, past or current, affecting dissemination of scientific information to the public."

S.D. Sen. Johnson in Critical Condition, AP

"Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson was in critical condition Thursday after late-night brain surgery, creating political drama about which party will control the Senate next month if he is unable to continue in office. The Democratic Party holds a fragile 51-49 margin in the new Senate that convenes Jan. 4. If Johnson leaves the Senate, the Republican governor of South Dakota could appoint a Republican _ keeping the Senate in GOP hands with Vice President Dick Cheney's tie-breaking power."

AIP FYI #141: Slipping Away: FY 2007 Budget Increases for DOE Office of Science, NSF, NIST

"On Monday, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Rep. David Obey (D-WI) announced their support of legislation that in almost all cases would keep funding flat, and in other instances reduce or eliminate funding, for almost every federal department or agency through September 30, 2007."

Byrd, Obey Set Plan to Finish 2007 Bills, Senate Appropriations Committee

"Unfortunately, there are no good options available to us to complete the unfinished work of the Republican Congress. After discussions with our colleagues, we have decided to dispose of the Republican budget leftovers by passing a year-long joint resolution. We will do our best to make whatever limited adjustments are possible within the confines of the Republican budget to address the nation's most important policy concerns."

2007 funding measure will differ from continuing resolution, Dems say, Federal Times

"The measure that Democratic leaders of the next Congress are crafting to fund federal agencies for the remainder of the 2007 fiscal year will be a far cry from the continuing resolutions that agencies are accustomed to. Instead of providing a set amount of funding which in the case of the current continuing resolution, is the lowest of the House-approved, Senate-approved, or fiscal 2006 level lawmakers plan to create a much more specific document that may provide additional money where necessary to keep the agencies operating."

Editor's note: The continuing resolution regarding budget matters that Congress now seems set to adopt is causing major concerns in ESMD. ESMD needed a 700 million dollar rampup in FY 2007 in order to proceed with Constellation as planned. That budget increase won't happen if the NASA budget is fixed at FY 2006 levels - which is what this continuing resolution woudl do. As such, everything is apparently on the table. As one NASA source put it "a new round of carnage can be expected as what's left gets cut up to feed the Constellation dragon."

More iPods In Space

iPod Sighting Aboard Space Shuttle Discovery

Editor's note: If you look at the left hand side of this image dated Monday, 11 December, you will see an iPod and a Belkin external battery pack velcroed to a panel next to the Discovery's toilet located in the Shuttle's middeck. The iPod is connected to a set of external speakers. But wait - there's another one up on the flight deck.

Editor's 14 Dec update: According to NASA PAO: Six iPods also went up on the shuttle for the Discovery astronauts. The plan is (apparently) for the devices to come back with Discovery.

U.S. Warns of Threat to Satellites, AP

"The Bush administration warned Wednesday against threats by terrorist groups and other nations against U.S. commercial and military satellites, and discounted the need for a treaty aimed at preventing an arms race in space. Undersecretary of State Robert G. Joseph also reasserted U.S. policy that it has a right to use force against hostile nations or terror groups that might try to attack American satellites or ground installations that support space programs. President Bush adopted a new U.S. space policy earlier this year."

Combating Satellite Terrorism, DIY Style, Popular Mechanics

"We demonstrated that a few unsophisticated guys with a few thousand dollars' worth of equipment could interfere with a seriously sophisticated satellite system," says John Holbrook, Space CHOP's program manager. "If we had turned on full power, we would've knocked [the system] out."

House Science Committee Leaders Urge Implementation of Aeronautics Report Recommendations

"The Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Science Committee and the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics today called on the Administration to implement the recommendations in a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the challenges of creating a new air traffic control system, known as the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS)."

Back to the Moon! But Why?, NY Times

Editor's note: The Mars Society sent out this comment today in response to this recent NY Times article. As for some dramatic change occuring on 21 January 2009, yes, there could indeed be some change: No VSE and no human exploration - anywhere. NASA already has difficulty just getting back to the Moon (and retiring the shuttle and finishing the ISS) - all with insufficient funds. Why would anyone replace that initial task right now with a vastly more complex and expensive one i.e. Mars? As for the derisive comments about the Moon, oh well, this little missive is from the "Mars" Society, after all. Pay no attention to that nearby world three days away. There's nothing there to benefit humanity ;-)

"Overbye's argument's are certainly to the point. NASA's only honest counter to them, to wit, "We are aiming for the Moon because that is what President Bush decided we should do," will vanish as a programmatic foundation on January 21, 2009. A better foundation for the human exploration vision needs to be laid, one based, not on an arbitrary decision made by a political transient, but on truth."

If You Quit The NASA Astronaut Corps You Lose Your JSC Badge, SpaceRef

"After October 1, I emailed the administrative assistant in the astronaut office to find out what I needed to do in order to get a new badge. I was told that I could not get one. I was told that the only way that I can get on site would be to check in at the JSC security office to get a temporary badge, one that was good for up to five consecutive days of access. This is one of those badges that you get when you forget yours at home."

Comments? Send them to Your responses thus far:

Science Democrats Track NASA Foreign Contract Reporting, House Science Committee, Democratic Membership

"The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has determined that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will not be able to issue its required annual report to Congress in January 2007 regarding their contracts and subcontracts performed overseas, as well as on NASA purchases from foreign entities."

NASA's System for Tracking Foreign Contracts and Subcontracts GAO-07-142R, GAO

"Summary: NASA will not fully meet congressional reporting requirements on fiscal year 2006 foreign purchases by January 2007 because it is not collecting all the data needed to do so. ... In addition, although NASA has collected supplier base data for its Space Shuttle program, it does not collect or analyze agencywide data on its suppliers."

Are There Martians On Earth?

Was Earth Ever Infected by Martian Biota? Clues from Radioresistant Bacteria, Astrobiology

"Here we propose that the radioresistance (tolerance to ionizing radiation) observed in several terrestrial bacteria has a martian origin. Multiple inconsistencies with the current view of radioresistance as an accidental side effect of tolerance to desiccation are discussed. Experiments carried out 25 years ago were reproduced to demonstrate that "ordinary" bacteria can develop high radioresistance ability after multiple cycles of exposure to high radiation dosages followed by cycles of recovery of the bacterial population."

Life on the Moon, NPR

"This hour On Point we'll talk with a lunar scientist, a NASA watcher and an astronaut about the case for the moonbase, and the nuts and bolts of living on the moon. (Traci Watson, Paul Spudis, Howard McCurdy, Michael Clifford)"

Mike Griffin Hits a Home Run

Opposing view: 15 cents a day, Editorial response, Mike Griffin, USA Today

"Our great-great-grandparents accepted the challenge of their frontier. Will today's generation do less? And if so, why? To save 15 cents per day? To save six-tenths of 1% of the federal budget? Because that is the cost to the average citizen of our nation's space program. Whether we wish to explore space or not, to say that we cannot afford space exploration is ridiculous."

Editor's note: Now if only Mike Griffin can get his in-house PAO and policy apparatus to speak as clearly, and precisely (as he has) with one voice - a voice coordinated across the agency - with a clear, cohesive strategic plan - something he does not currently have.

Transcript of PBS NewsHour Interview with NASAWatch. com Editor Keith Cowing 5 December 2006

"But in terms of it being an endeavor that the American people and possibly other nations are going to be asked to spend billions of dollars, I do think NASA -- and they're working on this -- but I do think NASA has to come up with some crisper answers, ones that just don't reach to one part of the populace, but to young people, as well as your Joe six-pack, to people who are retired and wondering who's going to be paying their medical bills."

Back to the Moon! But Why?, NY Times

"Why, if Mars is so fascinating, does NASA now have a fixation on the Moon? In last week's first announcement, the agency said it would build a permanent international base, probably near one of the Moon's poles, by 2024. In one of those twists that must make it fun to be the American starship commander these days, that is to say, the NASA administrator, the dual (one is tempted to say dueling) announcements underscored the disparity between these two visions of space adventure. On the one hand there is the Red Planet, home of mythical canals and yearning. Astrobiologists are dying to get their hands, or at least their robots, on it - oops, astrobiology research was slashed in the last NASA budget."

Observations from the Second Space Exploration Conference: Listening to the Next Generation

"Keeping the past achievements of NASA in mind as we return to the Moon is important, but it should not define the agency as it is currently doing. To attract the future generation of explorers, NASA needs to establish itself as the agency of the future, not the agency of the past. A return to the Moon is merely the stepping stone necessary to set foot on Mars and beyond, but advertisements would have the audience think the return to the Moon is the main goal of the VSE."

Wallops Launch Delayed

Rocket launch that would have been first from mid-Atlantic spaceport is postponed, AP

"The mission, which would have included the first takeoff from the mid-Atlantic region's commercial spaceport, will be postponed until at least Wednesday and possibly for as long as two to three weeks while the problem is being resolved, said Neal Peck, program manager for the Air Force's TacSat-2 satellite."

iPod on ISS

Editor's note: If you look carefully at the large version of this image you will see a 5th 4th generation iPod attached to a Belkin external battery pack on the equipment rack directly in front of Thomas Reiter.

No word yet as to who this iPod belongs to - or what kind of music is loaded on it.

Editor's update: Apple's HotNews features a link to our little news item. We also made it into Wired's Cult of Mac Blog, the Sydney Morning Herald, and iPod Lounge.

Of course, iPods have a tendency to pop up in some very odd places ... [more]

NASA JSC Solicitation: Sources sought for the SEA - Strategic Education Alliance Cooperative Agreement

"Posted Date: Dec 08, 2006 ... All responses shall be submitted to Kirby Condron no later than December 20, 2006 at 3:00 CST. In providing your response please reference SEA-SSS."

Editor's note: Notice the turnaround time: 12 calendar/8 working days - and the time of year. Either JSC already knows who they will fund - or they do not care if quality proposals are going to be prepared by educators who are in the midst of final exams before the holidays.

Rep. Boehlert Asks OMB for Additional Science Funding in FY 2008, Stresses Importance of ACI

"Last, but not least, NASA needs additional funding if it is to move ahead with both the Vision for Space Exploration and the space science, earth science and aeronautics research required by the NASA Authorization Act of 2005. There is no reason to launch the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle before 2014, and there is every reason to retire the Space Shuttle in 2010, as planned."

Dean Acosta Leaving NASA

NASA Internal Memo: Acosta Departure Announcement

"Today, I am announcing my departure from NASA as the press secretary and deputy assistant administrator for Public Affairs, effective Jan. 2nd. I have accepted a position as a managing director at Qorvis Communications, a Washington, DC public affairs firm. David Mould will assume the press secretary duties upon my departure."

NASA Chief Spokesperson's Next Mission is to Join Qorvis

"Acosta served as chief spokesperson, press secretary and senior adviser to the NASA administrator and deputy administrator. His experience includes coordinating NASA's response to the shuttle Columbia accident in 2003."

Official Bio

"Dean Acosta is an Emmy Award winning journalist who became NASA's deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Public Affairs in April 2003."

Editor's note: How is it that Dean was responsible for "coordinating NASA's response to the shuttle Columbia accident in 2003" when he did not even join the agency until 3 months after the accident?

As a matter of fact, like many others, I spent a lot of time in close proximity to NASA PAO during those months. As I recall the "work" at HQ was done by Glenn Mahone, Paula Cleggett, Doc Mirelson, Allard Beutel, Bob Jacobs, and many others across the agency. Whatever Columbia-related activity Dean may have eventually "coordinated" was done well after he arrived at NASA - with 99% of the actual "work" done by others.

Editor's note: Have a look at these postings on the chat page. The postings start with a snotty item suggesting that this item posted on NASA Watch - that Aviation Week had learned about an upcoming news item about water on the surface of Mars "might be just smoke." That was followed by Alex Blackwell's utterly baseless (and false) claim that "Actually, AW&ST got an advance look at the embargoed press release.".

Then guess what: the future event posted on NASA Watch and Aviation Week actually came to pass. Funny how things like this happen, isn't it?

Note to Alex Blackell (and webmaster Doug Ellison): Aviation Week staff did not have access to embargoed material. Ask them yourselves. Why not check with them before posting such false rumors, eh? Keep that in mind the next time you two get up on your soapbox and slap people for posting rumors.

Editor's update: The site's webmaster, Doug Ellison has replied "We wont be responding to that 'story', and hope that people here will see it for what it is and ignore it." (Note: This last response by Ellison vanished a few hours later). Aviation Week has denied breaking any embargo. But I guess Doug Ellison does not care about being accurate - even as he chides others for the same trangression. Indeed, even when presented with evidence to the contrary, he prefers to print (post) lies on his website.

Editor's 12 Dec update: It took several days but Alex Blackwell finally removed his false accusation about Aviation Week.

Man on the moon, II, Boston Herald

"Our spirits were lifted last week by NASA's announcement that it intends to establish a permanent moon base starting in about 2020. Not only is this a first step toward putting humans on Mars someday, it also offers outstanding opportunities for adventure, real scientific work and a few long-odds opportunities for gangbuster technological advances."

How much for a moon base? Don't ask, AP

"You ask what things will cost, I don't know yet," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, a detail-oriented engineer. "We just rolled out a very preliminary architecture."

A Condo on The Moon..., Time

"It's getting hard to find many Americans who remember where they were the last time men set foot on the moon. Not only had most of us quit paying attention to lunar landings by then, but 48% of us hadn't even been born by December 1972, when the last moon walkers left the lunar surface and headed for home."

Q&A: A Missionary for Mars Exploration, US News and World Report

"What is your opinion about NASA's announcement this week? ZUBRIN: ... The idea that your strategic goal is the moon as opposed to Mars I think is wrong. I think it's too timid. I think it's, well, un-American."

Editor's note: Gee Bob, since former Mars Society Steering Committee members Mike Griffin and Scott Horowitz are 200% behind a return to the Moon, does that make them "un-American" too? Oh yes, the VSE clearly states that Mars is the ultimate goal - and Griffin and Horowitz have stated this multiple times.

Think before you speak, Bob.

Discovery Launched

Space Shuttle Discovery Lifts Off

"Space Shuttle Discovery and a crew of seven astronauts lifted off from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39B at 8:47 p.m. EST, kicking off the most complicated and challenging mission to the International Space Station to date. The warm glow of Discovery's solid rocket boosters and trio of main engines lit the night sky for miles throughout the Kennedy area, marking the first night launch of a space shuttle in four years."

Preparations Continue for STS-116 Launch

"Under a partly cloudy sky, Space Shuttle Discovery is ready for launch of mission STS-116 from Launch Pad 39B. The rotating service structure rolled back at approximately 9:30 a.m. this morning to enable launch. NASA officials have set the next launch attempt for tonight at 8:47 p.m. EST. Shuttle weather forecasters anticipate that a cold front will linger in the area this evening, limiting chances for liftoff to 30 percent."

Back to the Moon, Permanently, editorial, New York Times

"If this nation is to continue a human space flight program it makes sense to pick a more exciting destination than a space station circling endlessly in low Earth orbit. Our main concern is that the political proponents of the Moon-Mars adventure will not provide money commensurate with the task. NASAs crowning scientific achievements have come from its unmanned probes to distant worlds and its orbiting observatories. It would be a shame if an underfinanced program to return to the Moon on a permanent basis and then venture on to Mars forced reductions in research programs of higher scientific value."

Editor's note: It would be so much more efficient - for all involved - if the NY Times would simply come out against sending humans into space once and for all - and then reprint that editorial once a month.

Another Odd PAO Quote

Congress passes stopgap funds until February 15, Reuters

"With a space shuttle scheduled to lift off on Saturday, the House vote provided relief for NASA workers, some of whom could have faced immediate layoff. NASA spokesman Gray Hautaloma said a government shutdown would not have affected essential personnel who support the shuttle mission. "The poor astronauts are not going to be stranded in space," he said."

Editor's note: "The poor astronauts"?

NASA Official Questions Agency's Focus on the Shuttle, NY Times

"NASA's administrator, Michael D. Griffin, says the current period of space exploration will come to be seen as a mistake. "Viewed from the point of history several decades out," he said in an interview, "the period where the United States retreated from the Moon and quite deliberately focused only on low Earth orbit will be seen, to me, a mistake."

Editor's note: Every time Mike Griffin says things like this about the Space Shuttle and/or the ISS he tries to wiggle out of what he said after the fact. For someone who almost always stands behind what he says this is rather curious.

NASA ARC Internal Memo: Spacehab Litigation Request

"NASA currently has litigation with Spacehab Inc. pending before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, arising from the loss of the Columbia as it returned from the STS-107 mission on February 1, 2003. Spacehab's Research Double Module (RDM) was aboard Columbia and was totally destroyed in the accident. This litigation is in the discovery phase and Spacehab has requested copies of certain documents (hard copy and electronic forms - including e-mail). NASA is legally obligated to identify and preserve all relevant material."

Coalition for Space Exploration Launches Space Advocacy Web Site

"The Coalition for Space Exploration today launched a new space advocacy Web site, which can be found online at"

Editor's note: Included in this press release is a link to the Coalition's website. Alas, when you go there you see that there is nothing online. It is "under construction". Yet this version of the Coalition's website is still online with all of the old, outdated information. [update: the coalition finally got the hint and shut this website off.] I am not sure which is worse in terms of presenting a public face to people and wanting them to take you seriously: putting out a press release about a new website you have launched while taking your current one offline (so as to prevent people from learning who you are) or leaving the old one online so that people see how infrequently you update your websites. Alas, the Coalition has managed to do both!

Perhaps if the Coalition took some of the money they spend on lavish receptions for inside the beltway types (they held one in Houston this week) and spent the money on a solid webmaster instead, they'd be able to have a crisp, coherent, and up to date message out there for people to hear.

Weather Forces Launch Scrub

Uncooperative Weather Forces Launch Postponement to Saturday

"The launch of Space Shuttle Discovery was scrubbed Thursday after poor weather conditions spoiled the attempt at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Earlier in the day a cold front moved in over the spaceport, bringing clouds and winds into the area. The cloud ceiling proved to be too low for a safe launch, prompting NASA to postpone Discovery's flight. NASA officials have set the next launch attempt for 8:47 p.m. EST on Dec. 9."

Weather Forecast Takes Center Stage For STS-116 Launch

"Tomorrow we are expecting a frontal system to come into the area, and that is going to bring in a lot of cloud cover," Winters said. "We did increase our probability of weather prohibiting a [Kennedy] launch to 60 percent." The forecast indicates the possibility of isolated light rain and low clouds in the area at launch time. Weather is also a concern at a contingency landing site in Istres, France. Tail winds there may increase and pose an issue as well. In the case of a 24-hour delay, the forecast isn't much better: there's a chance the winds at the launch pad or Shuttle Landing Facility could exceed limits, bringing the chance of weather prohibiting launch to 70 percent."

Editor's note: The second day of the conference is now underway. Updates below.

Oozing on Mars

NASA Images Suggest Water Still Flows in Brief Spurts on Mars

"NASA photographs have revealed bright new deposits seen in two gullies on Mars that suggest water carried sediment through them sometime during the past seven years. "These observations give the strongest evidence to date that water still flows occasionally on the surface of Mars," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, Washington."

NASA Schedules Briefing to Announce Significant Find on Mars

"NASA hosts a news briefing at 1 p.m. EST, Wednesday, Dec. 6, to present new science results from the Mars Global Surveyor. The briefing will take place in the NASA Headquarters auditorium located at 300 E Street, S.W. in Washington and carried live on NASA Television and"

Editor's note: You really have to wonder if anyone is really in the driver's seat at NASA HQ PAO. They wait until the press corps that covers NASA is either at KSC waiting for a shuttle launch - or in Houston at a major exploration conference that the agency is strongly suporting - and only THEN does PAO plan a major announcement about Mars - at NASA HQ - one that many of us cannot cover. Did NASA's Mars scientists *just* make this discovery the other day? I doubt it. Has NASA been sitting on this for a while? More likely. Or has the news started to dribble out (once again) and NASA finds itself playing catch up?

Editor's update: Apparently some reporters were given access to embargoed information from the participants and NASA JPL while others were not. So much for providing equal access to all media. NASA is playing favorites once again.

At one point the paper was posted on this unpublicized link (now inactive) for some reporters to see - but not others:

The Daily Mail has managed to get a picture associated with this announcement.

Global Exploration Strategy and Lunar Architecture Briefing (transcript)

"It doesn't sound like a big deal, but that led us to the conclusion that we are going to go after a lunar base, and so a lunar base will be the central theme in our going-forward plan for going back to the Moon and preparation to go to Mars and beyond. So it is a very, very big decision. It is one of the few where I have seen the science community and the engineering community actually agree on anything, where we finally have a place that is very interesting from an operational and engineering perspective because of continual sunlight, because of the ability to maybe get after materials on the moon, and also have such interesting scientific sites that are near the poles."

NASA Watch on NewsHour

Editor's note: I had a chance to discuss the new Lunar architecture on PBS Newshour this evening. You can listen to an audio file here: MP3 - Real Audio

Transcript of PBS NewsHour Interview with NASAWatch. com Editor Keith Cowing 5 December 2006

"But in terms of it being an endeavor that the American people and possibly other nations are going to be asked to spend billions of dollars, I do think NASA -- and they're working on this -- but I do think NASA has to come up with some crisper answers, ones that just don't reach to one part of the populous, but to young people, as well as your Joe six-pack, to people who are retired and wondering who's going to be paying their medical bills."

Our view on the return to the moon: NASA, the costly frontier, opinion, USA Today

"On a practical level, this project raises a number of obvious questions. Why go back to the moon? Why build what is partially rationalized as a base camp for an eventual trip to Mars in the gravitation sink hole of a planetoid? Where's the scientific reward that would justify such an expense? And, given the entitlement-driven budget crises that will arrive about a decade from now, can such an expensive venture retain support?"

Editor's note: The event opened this morning with a lavish (and no doubt expensive) series of videos, a children's choir (of volunteers), and a military colorguard.

Coverage continues below.

NASA To Evaluate Non-recoverable First Stage for Ares I Launch Vehicle, SpaceRef

"Some of the people working on the design of NASA's new Ares I launch vehicle want to delete the requirement to recover and reuse the rocket's first stage. The reason: the weight of hardware required to make recovery possible - and practical. One of the main attributes of the current Ares I design is the use of a Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) - one that has a common heritage with proven hardware from the Space Shuttle program. This commonality and reliability is regularly touted as one of the Ares I's current advantages over other possible launch systems."

Editor's note: According to an item first posted by Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine: "NASA is ready to announce major new findings about the presence of water currently emerging onto the surface of Mars.

NASA: Global Strategy for Exploring Moon Unveiled

"NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale, who is guiding the long-term strategy development effort among 14 of the world's space agencies, said, "This strategy will enable interested nations to leverage their capabilities and financial and technical contributions, making optimum use of globally available knowledge and resources to help energize a coordinated effort that will propel us into this new age of discovery and exploration."

NASA Says It Will Set Up Polar Moon Camp, AP

"In the wake of the space shuttle Columbia accident, President Bush announced in 2004 a plan to return astronauts to the moon by 2020. His plan would take 16 years, twice as long as NASA's first trip to the moon took in planning. NASA has refused to estimate a price tag for the project."

NASA Plans Lunar Outpost, Washington Post

"NASA officials declined to put a price tag on what will clearly be an extremely expensive venture. But they said that with help from international partners and perhaps space businesses, the agency would have sufficient funds to undertake the plan without any dramatic infusion of new money."

More Buyouts at LaRC

NASA LaRC Internal Memo: Buyout Approved

"As you may know, the Agency has offered Centers the opportunity to participate in a buyout this FY. Langley submitted a plan, and I am happy to report that we have received approval to offer the buyout at the Center."

NASA Exploration Strategy and Lunar Architecture Briefing

"NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale and senior executives from the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate will host a press conference at 1 p.m. CST Monday, Dec. 4, to announce the agency's global exploration strategy and lunar architecture.

The global exploration strategy explains the themes and objectives of lunar exploration. The lunar architecture explains how the moon will be explored."

Editor's note: Despite the contents of a memo (and rumors) circulating around some parts of NASA, it is a certainty that Shana Dale will give this briefing - not Mike Griffin.


Sino Setback - Advanced Chinese Space Technology Initiative Is Off To A Disastrous Start, Aviation Week and Space Technology

"The catastrophic breakdown of China's new Sinosat 2 direct broadcast satellite is the worst spacecraft failure in the history of the Chinese space program and a major setback to China's development of a new generation of larger more powerful civilian and military satellites. The failure of this largest, most complex spacecraft ever developed by the Chinese - launched by China's most powerful rocket - portends a shakeup in the management of Chinese space system testing and quality control."

Northrop Grumman, Booz Allen Hamilton, SpaceX to Host Networking Event for Current, Future Space Exploration Leaders

"University students, young professionals and first-level managers from NASA and the aerospace industry will be able to meet and share their views on the nation's space exploration program with space leaders from NASA and the aerospace industry at a reception being planned by Northrop Grumman Corporation in partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX).

The Future Exploration Leaders Networking Reception is scheduled to occur on Tuesday, Dec. 5 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Exhibit Hall E of the George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston. Registration for the event begins at 4:30 p.m. The reception is being held in conjunction with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' (AIAA) 2nd Space Exploration Conference, which runs Dec 4-6

The Future Exploration Leaders Networking Reception is one of many educational events that Northrop Grumman supports to help ensure that NASA and the nation have the technically trained workforce required to successfully undertake and fulfill the goals of Vision for Space Exploration."

NASA Looks to the Future With Eye on the Past, Washington Post

"But Wes Huntress, a former NASA associate administrator and ex-member of the NASA science advisory board, said that ever since Bush announced the space exploration vision, the administration has refused to give the agency additional funding to accomplish its mission. The result is that "Griffin has had to cannibalize the agency to get the money for the new program," Huntress said. "Even at that, I don't think there are sufficient funds to support even the return to the moon once the program gets really moving."

GRC Gets Busy on the CLV

Ares I boosts NASA Glenn, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The completion of a prototype tuna can at Glenn in mid-October - with production models to come next year - is an early sign that NASA's ambitious new exploration plan is moving into high gear. The $34 million project also shows the Cleveland center is back in the thick of the nation's space flight program."

Sensenbrenner seeks top spot on Science Committee, AP

"Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner will seek the top Republican spot on the House Science Committee, after GOP leaders told him term limits would prevent him from taking that spot on the Judiciary Committee."

This Really Should Happen

Stephen Hawking In Space, MSNBC

"British billionaire Richard Branson says he's sending over a medical officer to talk with physicist Stephen Hawking about getting him into space. That's how the founder of Virgin Galacticrespondedto Hawking's comment that "maybe Richard Branson will help" him achievehis long-held goal ofreaching the final frontier, even though he's a quadriplegic who needs a blink-controlled computer to communicate. Branson and other Virgin executives indicated today that if there's any way on earth to accommodate the good doctor-with-a-disability, they'll do it. And for practice, Hawking could conceivably experience weightlessness aboard a Zero Gravity Corp. plane as early as next year."

Star Wars Redux: Democrats to Gut Missile Defense/Bush To Announce "Orbital Battle Station", Pajamas Media

"By Taylor Dinerman - Democratic leaders are poised to gut America's missile defense - at the same time North Korea and Iran are testing long-range missiles that can strike the U.S. and its allies, including Israel, Japan and Britain. Meanwhile, sources inside the missile-defense community tell Pajamas Media that the Bush administration is planning to ask Congress to begin funding development of an "orbital battle station."

Editor's note: Oh great. If this is true (please count me among the skeptics) then space exploration detractors in Congress and elsewhere will soon be lumping all of George Bush's space ideas together as "Star Wars" and the VSE is going to be the loser. This won't make getting to the Moon any easier.

Continuing the Voyage: The Spirit of Endeavour - Remarks to The Royal Society of the United Kingdom by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin

"Some of these lessons are in evidence in my own land. America's origins do not begin on a specific date, nor do they involve any one particular group of people. Many of us in America are the descendants of pioneers from Spain, Portugal, Holland, Scotland, England, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, and many other countries, who emigrated over many generations and settled in what became the United States, in search of new riches, new freedoms, and new beginnings."

Editor's note: This is a nice speech, finely tuned to the audience it was presented to - one that links exploration of the past with that of the present - and the future. Yet, looking back at other speeches Mike Griffin has given on this topic, I can't help but notice a clear, almost exclusionary focus on Western civilization in his comments.

ULA Is Born

Boeing and Lockheed Martin Complete United Launch Alliance Transaction

"The Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin Corporation today announced that they have completed the transaction combining their expendable launch vehicle businesses, forming the joint venture called United Launch Alliance, LLC (ULA). ULA will combine the production, engineering, test and launch operations associated with U.S. government launches of Boeing Delta and Lockheed Martin Atlas rockets. The proposed joint venture was first announced in May 2005."



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About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by Keith Cowing in December 2006.

Keith Cowing: November 2006 is the previous archive.

Keith Cowing: January 2007 is the next archive.

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