Keith Cowing: January 2009 Archives

Salmond's energy plan is too risky, Scotsman

Exclusive: Man From Nasa Slams Salmond Coal Plan As 'Sham', iStockAnalyst

"One of the world's leading climate change experts yesterday called into question the green credentials of the First Minister, branding his energy policy a "sham". Nasa scientist Dr James Hansen called for Alex Salmond to abandon any plans to allow new coal-fired power stations to be built in Scotland. .. Opposition parties responded by criticising the First Minister's green credentials, and environment groups called for Mr Salmond to act on Dr Hansen's advice."

Science Group Erred Giving Hansen Top Honor, Washington post

"By honoring Hansen, the AMS has raised questions about the proper role of scientists in a world that is facing complex challenges that mix science and politics. A key issue is whether it is appropriate for prominent scientists to serve dual roles as researchers and advocates for political change, or if must there be a clear separation between the two."

Editor's note: The climate change issue aside (I totally agree with Hansen on that topic, FWIW) is it proper for a NASA employee to go off and create their own policy effort - on an international scale - dragging the word "NASA" into the discussion every time? In this case he is inserting himself into the politics of a foreign country. Would any other NASA employee be allowed to do this - on any topic of their choosing?

Executive Order: Freedom of Information Act, White House

"All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, inorder to renew their commitment to the principles embodied inFOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA. The presumption of disclosure also means that agencies should takeaffirmative steps to make information public.They should not wait for specific requests from the public.All agencies should use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government.Disclosure should be timely. ... Ialso direct the Director of the Office ofManagement and Budgetto update guidance to the agencies to increase and improve information dissemination to the public, including through the use of new technologies, and to publish suchguidancein the Federal Register."

Executive Order: Transparency and Open Government, White House

"Government should be transparent. ... Government should be participatory. ... Government should be collaborative. ... I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum.The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive."

Editor's note: How will this affect NASA? How SHOULD it affect NASA?

Going To School Weightless

Students get weightless testing personal navigation aid for spaceflight, NSBRI

"Many people resolved to lose weight this year, but seven university students had a different goal - to be "weightless." The students served as both investigators and test subjects in an experiment to examine how a person's sense of direction is impacted by the lack of gravity and whether a simple device can improve the ability to navigate. The student activity, supported by funds from National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) and Excalibur Almaz, was conducted through NASA's Reduced Gravity Student Flight Program."

Abbey Lane: They're Back

Maximizing NASA's Potential In Flight and on the Ground: Recommendations for the Next Administration, by George Abbey, Neal Lane, and John Muratore, James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University

"Recommendation 1: Restructure the human space initiative and keep the space shuttle flying until 2015
Recommendation 2: Deliver short-term (within four years) payoffs in energy and the environment, especially in the area of climate change
Recommendation 3: Deliver longer-term payoffs (within four to eight years) for energy and the environment
Recommendation 4: Ensure an ongoing and effective robotic space science program
Recommendation 5: Implement a reinvigorated and effective aeronautical research program, with particular attention to low-carbon fuels and efficiency, to help the future well-being of the nation's aviation industry"

NASA Sets Briefing With Members of First Six-Person Station Crew (With Internal NASA Technical Documents)

"NASA will hold a media briefing at 1 p.m. CST, Wednesday, March 4, with the International Space Station residents who will usher in an era of six-person crews. The briefing will originate from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and will be broadcast live on NASA Television. Questions will be taken from reporters at participating NASA sites."

NASA International Space Station 6-Crew Strategic Planning Document

"The purpose of this document is to compile the important assumptions, concepts, and strategic requirements used to formulate the nominal 6-Crew operations and planning guidelines for the International Space Station (ISS)."

NASA ISS Increment Definition and Requirements Document for Increments 19 and 20

"This document provides the assignment of flight dates, resources and accommodations, as well as defines the requirements for Increments 19 and 20. Requirements are provided for both joint International Space Station (ISS)/mated vehicle operations and ISS-only continuous operations stages of the increment."

Editor's note: The Obama administration is clearly interested in Earth science and has focused most of NASA's stimulus package funds on climate and Earth science issues. Right now a volcano (Mount Redoubt) is about to erupt in Alaska with the potential to disrupt life in the region. With this renewed focus on Earth science you'd think that NASA SMD would take a little time to gather all the things their various satellites can do with regard to this volcano and put it online - if for no other reason to show that they are paying attention to the White House. Alas, a look at SMD's news page shows nothing. Nor is there anything on SMD's home page or NASA.gov for that matter.

Ed, there was no telescope or planetary spacecraft money in the science portion of that package - just "critical Earth science missions".

Redoubt Activity, Alaska Volcano Observatory

Inlet volcano keeps geologists on alert, AP

A Moment at Arlington

Remembering Apollo 1, Columbia, and Challenger at Arlington, OnOrbit

"NASA Acting Administrator Christopher Scolese, left, and other NASA senior leaders participate in a wreath laying ceremony as part of NASA's Day of Remembrance, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009, at Arlington National Cemetery. The wreathes were laid in memory of those men and women who lost their lives in the quest for space exploration. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)"

"The arrival of a new year reminds us that life is a journey, one that takes us on many unexpected paths. NASA's role is to pioneer journeys into the unknown for the benefit of humanity. Along the way, we sometimes experience tragedy instead of triumph.

Today, we pause to reflect on those moments in exploration when things did not go as expected and we lost brave pioneers. But what sets us apart as Americans is our willingness to get up again and push the frontiers even further with an even stronger commitment and sense of purpose.

On this Day of Remembrance, we remember the sacrifices of those who dared to dream and gave everything for the cause of exploration. We honor them with our ongoing commitment to excellence and an unwavering determination to continue the journey on the path to the future.

President Barack Obama"

Remembering

Message from the Acting NASA Administrator - Day of Remembrance, Jan. 29, 2009

"It's going to be a busy year for all of us, with missions that carry with them the considerable risk that is a part of our normal business. But they also carry great potential. We each have opportunities -- every day -- to remember through our actions, the courageous men and women who dedicated their lives to public service. With each mission and every challenge, we build upon their technical achievements, benefit from their discoveries, and tap into their bravery and spirit. I am honored to remember these members of the NASA family, and to work side by side with those in NASA and in our communities, to fulfill the vision of these extraordinary people, of living and working in space."

NASA JSC Special: A Message From The Center Director: Memorials
NASA Glenn Research Center Pays Tribute to Fallen Astronauts
NASA Honors Fallen Colleagues During Day Of Remembrance

NASA's Tribute
Cartoon at Red & Rover, Comics.com

Arctic Memorials and Starship Yearnings, SpaceRef
Ancient Memorials for Modern Space Explorers, SpaceRef
Pictures From the Summit of Mt. Everest, Everest OnOrbit (honoring Shuttle, Apollo, and Soyuz crews)
Astronaut Scott Parazynski: Many Small Steps to the Summit of Mt. Everest, Everest OnOrbit (photo of this patch on Scott's Everest summit parka)

This Week in History: Remembering Challenger and Apollo 1, To the center
Space history: Seventeen astronauts paid the ultimate price, Alamagordo Daily News
Jan. 27, 1967: 3 Astronauts Die in Capsule Fire, Wired

House Passes Recovery Package, including Investments to Strengthen Competitiveness, Economy with Science and Technology

"Today the U.S. House of Representatives approved HR 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including substantial investments in science and Technology. ... "At National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), funding that will to put more scientists to work doing climate change research, including Earth science research recommended by the National Academies, satellite sensors that measure solar radiation critical to understanding climate change, and a thermal infrared sensor to the Landsat Continuing Mapper necessary for water management, particularly in the western states."

Stimulus bill leaves NASA with less than requested, Houston Chronicle

"The House on Wednesday rejected pleas from pro-NASA lawmakers to include up to $2 billion for space exploration and accelerated construction of the next generation of manned spacecraft. The measure, approved by a vote of 244 to 188, allotted just $50 million to NASA to repair Houston-area facilities damaged by Hurricane Ike, along with a half-billion dollars for non-space activities."

The Mission Continues

Keith Cowing's Devon Island Journal - 18 July 2007: Ancient Memorials for Modern Space Explorers, SpaceRef

"Today was supposed to have been our third live webcast to Challenger Learning Centers across the U.S. However, just as we were testing the satellite link, it died. After some hours of trying to figure out what went wrong, I decided to switch my team's attention to our other main task while on Devon Island. In addition to doing our webcasts, the other main task we had was the building of a memorial inukshuk to the crew of Space Shuttle Challenger."

The big "Y", Miles O'Brien

"Today, I am lucky to be a member of the Board of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. It is an organization that does much to engage and inspire kids - and keep the dreams and hoped of that lost crew alive. The organization does great things - but it needs our help. I encourage you to support it."

Editor's note: we were most pleased to be able to vote Miles onto the Board of Directors of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education last week.

NOMAD Website is Moving - Friday, January 30

"Access to the NOMAD site from outside the NASA network (e.g., home, hotels) will require login using a RSA token and virtual private network (VPN) or secure nomadic access (SNA) on your computer. The NOMAD Website will no longer be accessible publicly to non-NASA employees. The new NOMAD Website includes a calendar. As a reminder, please visit this page whenever you need information about NOMAD activities and issues impacting email delivery."

Editor's note: Of course, NOMAD was once again unclear in what it was telling its users, so this update to explain and clarify last night's update was sent out:

"You received the message below from NOMAD Outreach yesterday. Since the message went out, I received numerous calls and email messages from our customers concerning the message. This message is being sent as a clarification to the below message. Outlook Web Access (OWA) Webmail is available at https://webmail.nasa.gov/ Use your NOMAD email login in order to access your email from anywhere you have an Internet connection. Webmail is frequently an alternative to send and receive email when there are activities scheduled, or issues that arise, which impact your desktop or laptop email client and/or handheld device. The move of the NOMAD website from a public site does not affect how you access Webmail."

Editor's note: According to NASA sources, the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) recently requested that NASA send an astronaut to represent the agency at the annual African American Pioneers in Aviation and Space event in Washington DC on 14 February. This event is part of Black History month. The agency usually sends someone and the NASM pays all travel costs. This year, the Astronaut Office declined the request from NASA HQ. To be certain, Code CB travel budgets are always tight and astronauts are always in demand.

Curiously, on 21 January 2009, the day after the inauguration and departure of Mike Griffin, an astronaut travelled to Washington, DC and reportedly visited the school where Rebecca Griffin's child attends classes as well as the school that a child of NASA CFO Ronald Spoehel attends. The cost of this astronaut trip was paid for out of a budget controlled by the Administrator's office.

Any school visit by an astronaut is of great value and can serve as a life-altering event. But given that these two schools were seemingly hand-selected due to 9th floor family priorities, and this other event will now go uncovered, one has to wonder what the priorities are for education and public outreach at NASA.

NASA Seeks Concept Proposals for Future Moon Lander

"On Wednesday, NASA issued a request for proposals for concept definition and requirements analysis support for the Altair lunar lander. Proposals are due to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston by 2 p.m. CST on Feb. 27. NASA's Constellation Program will use Altair to land four astronauts on the moon following launch aboard an Ares V rocket and rendezvous in low Earth orbit with the Orion crew vehicle. The lunar lander will provide the astronauts with life support and a base for weeklong initial surface exploration missions of the moon. Altair also will return the crew to the Orion spacecraft that will return them home to Earth."

NASA Mars Rover Team Diagnosing Unexpected Behavior With Spirit

"The team operating NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit plans diagnostic tests this week after Spirit did not report some of its weekend activities, including a request to determine its orientation after an incomplete drive.

On Sunday, during the 1,800th Martian day, or sol, of what was initially planned as a 90-sol mission on Mars, information radioed from Spirit indicated the rover had received its driving commands for the day but had not moved."

NASA Security Operations Center (SOC) General Security Bulletin Monster.com/USAJobs.gov Breach & Information Theft

"Summary: User information from USAJobs was compromised when their technology provider, Monster, was accessed without authorization.

Details: Monster, the technology provider for USAJobs.gov, was the target of an illegal attempt to access and extract information from their database. When the database was accessed, user contact and account data were taken."

House Science and Technology Committee Organizes, Approves Oversight Plan

"Today the House Committee on Science and Technology held its Organizational meeting, in which Members approved Subcommittee Chairs, Ranking Members, Subcommittee Assignments, and Committee Rules. The Committee also approved its Oversight Plan, as required by House Rules."

Tell Hubble Where To Point

Hubble's Next Discovery -- You Decide

"Hubble's Next Discovery -- You Decide" is part of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA), the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo's observations. People around the world can vote to select the next object the Hubble Space Telescope will view. Choose from a list of objects Hubble has never observed before and enter a drawing for one of 100 new Hubble pictures of the winning object. The winning image will be released between April 2 and 5, during the IYA's 100 Hours of Astronomy, a global astronomy event geared toward encouraging as many people as possible to experience the night sky. Vote by March 1 to swing Hubble toward your favorite target."

Astronauts on International Space Station lose alarming amounts of hipbone strength, University of California-Irvine

"Astronauts spending months in space lose significant bone strength, making them increasingly at risk for fractures later in life. UC Irvine and UC San Francisco led a study evaluating 13 astronauts who spent four to six months on the International Space Station and found that, on average, astronauts' hipbone strength decreased 14 percent. Three astronauts experienced losses of 20 percent to 30 percent, rates comparable to those seen in older women with osteoporosis. These results alarmed researchers because they revealed a greater rate of bone deterioration than previously measured using less powerful technologies. "If preventive measures are not taken, some of our astronauts may be at increased risk for age-related fractures decades after their missions," said study leader Joyce Keyak, UCI orthopedic surgery and biomedical engineering professor."

Trip to Mars Will Challenge Bones, Muscles: Former Astronaut calls for More NASA Research on Exercise in Space, American College of Sports Medicine (2007)

"The rate at which we lose bone in space is 10-15 times greater than that of a post-menopausal woman," said Pawelczyk. "There's no evidence that bone loss ever slows (in space.) Further, it's not clear that space travelers will regain that bone on returning to gravity. Recent data suggests that not all people are recovering."

Testimony of Dr. James Pawelczyk at Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Hearings: "International Space Station" (2003)

"We need the capability to house these organisms on the ISS and that's expected within five years. But equally important, we need time for crew members to prepare and conduct these experiments, and that time can be found only when the ISS moves beyond the core complete configuration. The potential return is immense; the application of this research to our aging public could become one of the most important justifications for an International Space Station."

Editor's note: Philippe Crane has tried to set the record straight vis-a-vis NASA funding for Keck access. This email from Philippe Crane at NASA SMD has been widely circulated in the past few days. Have a look. Note underlined sections:

"Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2009
Subject: KECK
From: Philippe Crane
To: [DELETED]

How important is access to KECK thru NASA time to your work?? There seems to be a major shift in approach that may affect your work. In particular, there does not appear to be any funds for KECK after FY12.

For the moment, it appears that this issue will get some attention here at HQ, but it is not clear what the outcome will be. Therefore, it would be very helpful to have some broad idea of the impact of losing Keck to the Planetary community. Any inputs you and your colleagues may have will be helpful.

Many thanks, Phil"

Editor's note: Here is Crane's response from today's special edition of the Planetary Exploration Newsletter (it was not sent to NASA Watch by NASA SMD PAO - thanks Dwayne):

"Many of you may know about the January 26th posting on NASA Watch titled: "Weiler Seeks to Cut NASA Access to Keck Observatory." Just to make things unequivocally clear, there is absolutely no change in NASA's position to honor the 5-year cooperative agreement for KECK operations that was put in place last fiscal year. Also, Dr. Weiler has not been involved in any discussion relevant to KECK since he has returned to NASA Headquarters in the Spring of 2008.

The KECK Observatory provides important support for the Planetary Science Division's goals and objectives. The Planetary Science Division is committed to maintaining this support. Recent email and web traffic have not accurately reflected the actual situation. My email to a KECK user, informally soliciting information from observers to support the Planetary Science Division's position, led to this. I regret any misunderstanding that may have been engendered. Please be assured that we can move forward knowing that KECK will be around a long time to support our mission needs. If you are still have concerns, I urge you to talk directly to me or Jim Green, the Planetary Science Division Director.

Philippe Crane
Planetary Astronomy Discipline Scientist
Planetary Science Division
NASA Headquarters"

Editor's note: Crane was the one who said "it is not clear what the outcome will be". Small wonder the space science community was concerned. Either Crane was acting without Ed Weiler's consent/permission (not good) or he was (not good either). That said, given the standard operating procedure in cases such as this, much nastiness will issue forth from Ed Weiler's SMD.

Stimulus Money for NPOESS

Stimulus Bill Includes Millions for Satellite Program, Washington Post

"Here's a troubling one from Taxpayer's For Common Sense: Spending on the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System, a program to generate weather and climate data, has doubled over the last 14 years to $12.5 billion -- even though none of the satellites have been launched."

Date set for Sumbandila satellite launch, Buanews

"The date for the launch of the much-anticipated SumbandilaSat science satellite has been set for 25 March by the Department of Science and Technology. The Sumbandila, a low-orbit satellite which will collect data to be used to monitor and manage disasters such as floods, oil spills and fires within Southern Africa, will be launched into space from a sub-marine in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. In October 2005, the Minister of Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena, announced that South Africa would be embarking on a 3-year, R26 million integrated capacity building and satellite development project. Mr Mangena said at the time that the 80kg low earth orbit satellite would rotate the earth at a 500km height and provide the country with affordable access to space technology and data. "

Editor's note: Looks like the Kazakhi navy has entered the launch service market.

NASA Blog: Small Steps to a Great Adventure

"The program has built considerable momentum in the past 12 months and indeed over the last three years since we stood up as a team. We've done it for a fraction of the cost in people and resources compared to Apollo, shuttle and station through this phase. We've done it while the same supporting institutions execute our other two human spaceflight programs. We've done it with focus and resolve to transition shuttle workforce and assets to the new program in the smartest way possible. We've done it -- done it all -- with the Moon as our goal. "Design for lunar" has guided our every move, our every decision, within the bounds of what we can fiscally afford through these lean years until shuttle is retired. I know you all have seen the public discourse regarding Ares and Orion and shuttle, and understandably such discourse can temper our resolve to push forward -- if we let it."

Florida lawmaker wants to add $2B for NASA, Orlando Sentinel

"The Florida lawmaker who represents Kennedy Space Center plans to file an amendment to the economic stimulus plan on Tuesday that would add $2 billion to NASA's budget so that NASA can extend the shuttle era and more quickly build its new moon rocket."

Things We Used To Do

We Aimed for theStars..., Miles O'Brien

"Truth is, we have done nothing to equal (much less top) the accomplishments of Apollo. And even worse, we havent tried. We did something truly great, but then walked away from it. We had lightning in a bottle and we opened the lid. Our country has been pulling the rug out from under NASA ever since Apollo. Really, the agency is running on fumes from rocket fuel that was purchased (on a credit card no doubt) in 1961."

What Apollo was .... and wasn't, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"Miles O'Brien, late of CNN, recently wrote a column reflecting on the accomplishment of the Apollo program and the space program since then. He believes that Apollo was a great leap forward in space, a capability and step from which we then walked away. O'Brien asks why the country has turned its back on the promise of space and what it will take to re-establish the resolve we once showed in reaching for the Moon."

Why We Shouldn't End Our Manned Space Program, Esquire

"One night last fall, as the nation's economy rapidly unspooled, America did something big that we barely notice anymore but that no one else can match. We can't stop now, can we?"

UPDATE- NOMAD Connectivity Issues - Monday, January 26, 2009

"The NOMAD Team, Microsoft Technical Support and UNITeS have been working together to determine the root cause of the email connectivity issues. Today, they reported some good news. The cause of the service disruption has been traced back to authentication issues within the environment. Certain conditions can occur that cause the authentication servers to mishandle requests to center resources. When the connectivity issue occurred this morning, the team was able to force a reconnect at Johnson Space Center (JSC) in an extremely short time frame to resolve the issue. They have also devised a way to monitor those secure channels to determine why this is happening. Now that the team knows how to immediately correct the problem, the NOMAD team, NCAD, and Microsoft are trying to engineer a solution to prevent the issue from reoccurring."

Obama Administration Names Interim NASA Leadership

"Obama Administration has announced several interim leadership changes for NASA, which are effective immediately."

Editor's note: Have a look at nasa.gov - right hand side of the page. The top search item today is nibiru a "planet proposed in religion and ufology" according to wikipedia. Alas, NASA doesn't have much on the topic.

Editor's note: According to multiple sources in the space science community, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science, Ed Weiler, is planning to end NASA support for access to the telescopes at the Keck Observatory. Funding for that access would halt in FY 2012 if Weiler has his way. If this is allowed to happen, NASAs ability to do a variety of astronomical research will be greatly decreased. In addition to basic astronomy and astrophysics, much of the preparatory work needed for planning and then optimizing planetary science missions would also come to a halt.

What a nice start for NASA under the Obama Administration. President Obama calls for quality science and Ed Weiler seeks to cut it. Ed Weiler will go ahead and do this unless the affected scientists and project managers speak up - with attribution.

Editor's update: I just got an email from SMD PAO's Dwayne Brown. What is odd about this statement is that Ed Weiler's own people are sending out emails to the space science community warning that funding is coming to an end. Yet in these emails they make no mention of what is claimed in the official PAO response below. Alan Stern left NASA almost a year ago - yet Ed Weiler still finds that blaming Stern for anything and everything to be a convenient management tool. That includes bad mouthing Stern any time his name is mentioned in a conversation as being a possible Administrator candidate (Ed, people have heard you do this multiple times). How sad that Ed Weiler needs to define his budget in this fashion i.e. by blaming others for his current problems. Weiler did the same thing to his predecessor Wes Huntress during Weiler's last stint at SMD. There is an unfortunate behavior pattern at work here - and acting NASA Administrator Chris Scolese is not at all inclined to stop it. Not a good sign of things that lie ahead.

"Keith: This should clear up any concerns from your audience. I had planned to send it as a comment, but since folks out there need the real facts, perhaps it's best to put it as an update on your front page. If you have follow up questions, I've cc'd the heads of astrophysics and planetary to respond via email. Thanks DB

----

The FY09 budget plan, prepared under former Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Alan Stern, reflects only the current 5-year agreement in place for Keck. That plan ends funding in 2012. NASA officials will consider continued funding for projects such as Keck when they meet in the coming months to discuss the next 5-year planning cycle. This is part of the normal annual federal budget deliberations. Given the success and work of the observatory, it is expected funding will continue. In fact, the science directorate, under the current leadership of Ed Weiler, finished renewing a five-year cooperative agreement to continue its support of Keck based on recommendations from the science community during last year's NAC-subcommittee meetings.

Visit: http://nasascience.nasa.gov/about-us/NAC-subcommittees/nac-documents/200801_APS_Letter_Recommendations.pdf

NASA highly values its investment in Keck as a strategic research tool that enhances the scientific return of NASA missions. The observatory provides unique capabilities for making important scientific observations that affect future mission planning. One example is finding methane in the Martian atmosphere that was recently announced.

Dwayne C. Brown
Senior Public Affairs Officer"

"Expedition 18 Commander Mike Fincke, [aka "Spanky"] aboard the International Space Station with Flight Engineers Sandy Magnus and Yury Lonchakov, recently filmed a high-definition tour of the orbiting complex. With a mass of almost 630,000 pounds, the station has grown to a size larger than an average four-bedroom house on Earth. The next space shuttle mission, designated STS-119, will continue the station's assembly by delivering a fourth and final set of solar arrays. Shuttle Discovery and its seven-member crew are targeted to launch Feb. 12."

Video (in four parts)

Challenges loom as Obama seeks space weapons ban, Reuters

"President Barack Obama's pledge to seek a worldwide ban on weapons in space marks a dramatic shift in U.S. policy while posing the tricky issue of defining whether a satellite can be a weapon. Moments after Obama's inauguration last week, the White House website was updated to include policy statements on a range of issues, including a pledge to restore U.S. leadership on space issues and seek a worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites."

The Agenda: Defense, WhiteHouse.gov

"Ensure Freedom of Space: The Obama-Biden Administration will restore American leadership on space issues, seeking a worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites. They will thoroughly assess possible threats to U.S. space assets and the best options, military and diplomatic, for countering them, establishing contingency plans to ensure that U.S. forces can maintain or duplicate access to information from space assets and accelerating programs to harden U.S. satellites against attack."

NASA probe digs deeply into Columbia tragedy, Houston Chronicle

"On the final Thursday of each January, the American flag is carefully lowered to half staff at the Johnson Space Center in tribute to 17 astronauts who have died in searing national tragedies. A solemn ceremony commemorates the three Apollo 1 fliers who were killed in a launch-pad fire in 1967, the seven Challenger astronauts who died in an explosion seconds after launch in 1986, and the seven Columbia crew members who perished when the space shuttle shattered over Texas in 2003. It was the loss of the Columbia, though, that moved senior space agency officials to ask for the unprecedented: a second-by-second examination of the shuttle's final moments."

Why NASA should give up its ambitions to send men into space, Economist

"The possibility of life on Mars is too thrilling for mankind to ignore. But how should we explore such questions--with men, or machines? Since America is the biggest spender in space, its approach will heavily influence the world's. George Bush's administration strongly supported manned exploration, but the new administration is likely to have different priorities--and so it should."

Orbiting Earth By Mail

Orbiting Earth By Mail, OnOrbit.com

Editor's note: I stumbled across this item on eBay today. It was titled "NASA Astronaut Scott Parazynski Mt. Everest Climb 2008". I bought it for 10 bucks. I asked Scott what he thought. He replied "That's amazing, and pretty humorous - especially since the photo is from Denali. I'd imagine the only way the cover creator could have found this photo is from OnOrbit.com/Everest - as it's a personal photo and not online anywhere else."

Geographic inaccuracies aside, it is most interesting that someone on the other side of the world thought enough of Scott's attempt on Everest to make note it in this way - and that this envelope would end up around the world in Minnesota being sold by someone who understands the nature of what Scott was trying to do and also followed Scott's progress on my website. More info and larger image.

NASA Internal Email: STS-125 Launch Date and Pad 39B Mods

"Our current plans remain the baseline..... 125 flies first, and we continue to press for 5/12. November is off the table..... 127 plans for June 13

We keep working pad mods on Pad B to keep the dual pad option open that allows Ares to fly in August

We keep on the track to do the early rollout for OV-104 to turn over HB 3 as soon as possible to ARES
(no impact from this to HST)

March 15th we tag up again to assess the ARES progress, the status of the Pad B Mods and analysis that is OK to launch 400 off Pad B, and to re-look at the single vs Dual Pad risk data per the request from Gerst for some addition cases. The single vs dual decision does not have to be made till the March 15th tagup. We can then decide whether HST flies May 12 (dual Pad) or May 29th (single pad)"

More Money for NASA?

Funding NASA will boost economy, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, Orlando Sentinel

"Last week, details of the economic recovery package were made public. The initial plan calls for $600 million for NASA's science and aeronautics programs, as well as funding to repair some of the damage caused by natural disasters in 2008. While I applaud this much-needed infusion of funds, I believe it does not go far enough, especially in light of funding shortfalls caused by flat budgets in recent years. That is why I sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House leadership urging an additional $2 billion in the economic stimulus for NASA's exploration systems and space operations. We would be remiss to leave out funding for human space exploration from this recovery package."

House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee Chairs, Members Named

"Today the Democratic Caucus of the Committee on Science and Technology met to elect Subcommittee Chairs and select Subcommittee assignments. The selections will be official after they are approved by the full Committee at the Organizational Meeting on Wednesday, January 28th. .. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was elected Chair of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.""

Olson Becomes Top Republican for Space, NASA

"The House Committee on Science and Technology confirmed today that Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) has been named the Ranking Member on the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, making him the top Republican in the House on Space and NASA issues."

Editor's note: Looks like the effort to nominate Major General Jonathan Scott Gration to be the next Administrator of NASA has faded. Multiple sources report that objections by Sen. Nelson, Sen. Mikulski, and others about Gration's experience with NASA have caused this trial balloon to drift away. The personal connection with President Obama just was not enough, so it would seem. The ball is now back in the Obama team's court. Note: contrary to much speculation, the transition team in place at NASA Headquarters (now moving into more permanent positions at the agency) was not directly involved in the selection or vetting of possible nominees such as Gration. They did have some input but that was early in the process. As such, it would be prudent to look toward the White House for hints as to what will happen next. Stay tuned.

Staff Finds White House in the Technological Dark Ages, Washington Post

"Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts. What does that mean in 21st-century terms? No Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging. Hard adjustments for a staff that helped sweep Obama to power through, among other things, relentless online social networking. "It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said of his new digs."

Seeing The Rover Up Close

Editor's note: The pressurized rover that participated in yesterday's inaugural parade is currently sitting outside of NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. It heads back to Texas tomorrow. There will be a media opportunity to examine the rover later today. I have already been inside and have some images which I will be posting later today.

Suffice it to say this is one very well executed and undeniably cool piece of hardware.

Editor's update: Photos of the rover are posted here. Videos and story to follow.

Mars and Me - The unofficial diary of a Mars rover driver

"Spirit Sol 18

Oops. Due to some overly aggressive sequencing, yesterday's master sequence had a command to wait until a time that was about 18 seconds too late. So the spacecraft, following the rules, rejected it. The ops team noticed and fixed this during the day, so they missed the morning science but got our IDD sequences kicked off.

Another oops, this one mine: I was supposed to be available for some phone interview at 6 AM or so -- a live interview on WITI-6 TV, a Fox affiliate in Milwaukee (save your Mary Tyler Moore jokes). I thought the interview was later in the day. But I called the guy back and got it set up for tomorrow.

But even if everything here on Earth is screwed up, at least Spirit is doing well. Specifically, the MI is healthy and is sending back beautiful data (which everyone immediately crowds around in the science downlink assessment meeting). Arvidson gives everyone a little time to admire the images, then says, "OK, can we get back to work now?" And someone says, "No!"

Editor's note: Although the author is blogging day-by-day activities from 2004, the insight they often is still very relevant.

Heinlein Trust and SpaceX Announce Competition to Promote Research Innovation in Zero Gravity

"The Heinlein Prize Trust announces the Microgravity Research Competition to reward innovation in the use of microgravity to advance biotech, nanotech, combustion, metallurgy, and other fields. Sponsored by the Trust and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the competition offers a $25,000 prize and transportation to and from Low Earth Orbit for the winning experiment aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft."

Editor's hint: As different groups pass by President Obama, different people appear for a few minutes at his side and then disappear. Let's see who shows up when NASA closes the parade.

Editor's update: Hey is that Barbara Romig in the suit on the rover? How cool. !!!

More screen grabs of the rover in the parade here. Note that MSNBC does not know what "NASA" stands for. Meanwhile all the major networks cut away from the parade just as the rover appeared except the local news channel here in DC and MSNBC who flashed a few seconds.

Editor's note: CNN just announced that it tasked GeoEye to take a satellite photo of the Mall and will air it as soon as they get it.

Editor's update 5:00 pm EST: CNN has shown the image on air. I cannot find it online.

Editor's update 6:00 pm EST: Here it is (thanks to CollectSpace)

Editor's hint: Here it is at GeoEye. You can also see that Google Earth has added it as well.

Army First, NASA Last

Here's the Order of the Parade Procession: Army First, NASA Last, Washington Post

"The Presidential Inaugural Committee released the order that the parade procession will march down the 1.5-mile path along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House tomorrow. Over 10,000 people from all 50 states will follow Barack Obama and Joseph Biden along the route. Reps from the U.S. Army and Reserves will lead off, and a contingent from NASA will bring up the rear."

Forty years of astronauts, moon craft in the Presidential Inaugural Parade, Collectspace

"We'll be somewhere near the end," said Ferguson. "We were told not right behind the horses, but close."

JSC Rover to Join Inaugural Parade and Crabwalk, earlier post

On Twitter: NASA Rob Ambrose w/ NASA's Lunar Electric Rover (LER), going live with Presidental Inaugural Parade twitter stream

NASA ARC Internal memo: Mike Griffin Departs NASA

"All- As required, I have previously submitted my resignation as NASA Administrator, effective 1200 EST 20 January 2009. Having heard nothing to the contrary, I conclude that it has been accepted by President Obama. Until such time as the president nominates, and the Senate confirms, a new Administrator, the agency will be in the best possible hands with Chris Scolese as Acting Administrator. I wish all of you the very best. It was an honor to serve NASA, and to do so with you. I have greatly appreciated the many expressions of thanks and good wishes which have been sent. There are many, many others not on this list who should also be thanked. Please feel free to forward to those in your individual organizations. Good luck to all. Mike"

Change.gov has Changed

Editor's note: Change.gov is now pointing to Whitehouse.gov. If you Google for "white house vision space" you get http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/space/index.html "A Renewed Spirit of Discovery" President Bush Announces New Vision for Space Exploration Program ..." yet if you go that link you get a new Obama White House "Page not found" error page. Searching for "NASA", "moon" etc. on whitehouse.gov produces no reference to VSE or anything meaningful about the past decade of NASA or space exploration.

I guess it is time to start all over again.

Reader note: The link is here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/agenda/

Where is space?

From: Nomad-Outreach Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 09:23:55 -0600 Subject: NOMAD Connectivity Issues

Good Morning, Many of you as NOMAD customers have periodically experienced performance issues over the past three months to include slow email access and response, Outlook Web Access (OWA Webmail) connectivity issues and desktop client connectivity issues. These problems have caused various degrees of disruptions to your normal daily workload.

I apologize for the inconvenience that you have experienced because of these connectivity issues. I wanted you to know that we are doing everything possible to resolve the issues.

President 'has four years to save Earth', The Guardian

"Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth. Crucially, that action will have to be taken within Obama's first administration, he added."

Editor's note: Hmmm. Not 3.8 years. Not 4.2 years. But exactly 4 years - which is exactly the length of one presidential term. What a coincidence.

Gration Plus 7

NASA chief Michael Griffin praises post-Columbia effort in farewell, LA Times

"Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who serves as chairman of the Senate commerce subcommittee on space, has cautioned Obama against picking an outsider. It has been no secret that Griffin wanted to stay on. In recent weeks, allies organized a lobbying effort aimed at convincing Obama that this would be a bad time to shake up the space agency."

Editor's note: Last week, well-placed sources reported that the Obama Transition Team had begun to circulate a name for vetting for the job of NASA Administrator: Major General Jonathan Scott Gration. Its a week later and this choice seems to have faded to a great degree. Stay tuned.

Name That Rover

Deadline Nears for Student Contest to Name NASA's Next Mars Rover

"NASA is issuing a last call to the nation's youth for entries in a contest to name the agency's next Mars rover. The naming contest, in partnership with Disney-Pixar's WALL-E, invites ideas from students 5 to 18 years old and enrolled in a U.S. school. The contest began two months ago. Entries will be accepted until midnight Jan. 25. Entrants should submit essays explaining why their suggested name for the rover is the right fit. In March, the public will have an opportunity to rank nine finalist names via the Internet as additional input for judges to consider. In April, NASA will announce the winning name."

Life Science and ISS

American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology Input to National Research Council Request For Information

"Research funding for the International Space Station (ISS), advocated by life scientists and authorized by Congress, was siphoned off into spacecraft engineering. This action crippled the space biology research community participation and generated mistrust of NASA to follow through on its commitments. In the 2005 timeframe, over $1B annually was devoted to Biological and Physical Science Research. This funding was confiscated under the guise of redirecting it to higher priority research directed toward implementing the "Vision for Space Exploration". NASA is asking other federal science agencies to conduct fundamental biological research. However, no transition plan, budget and agency has been identified to continue stewardship. Years of US invested research and intellectual capital are being abandoned without proper vetting."

Mike Griffin Bids Farewell

NASA News Update with Mike Griffin (Transcript)

"I am officially on duty until noon, Eastern Time, on the 20th, but the government is closed down on Monday and Tuesday for all the obvious reasons. So today is my last chance to visit with everybody, and I thought I would finish up my term in the way that I started, talking to the NASA employees in an All Hands. ...

... I made a few notes because I didn't want to forget any more people than I have to forget, which will inevitably be some, and so, if I forget you as I say thanks, all I can ask is forgiveness."

Editor's note: One person notably absent from the thank you list was the man who appointed Griffin to be NASA Administrator in the first place i.e. President Bush.

Memorandum for the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, White House

"Section 1. Order of Succession. Subject to the provisions of section 2 of this memorandum, the following officials of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in the order listed, shall act as and perform the functions and duties of the office of the Administrator of NASA (Administrator), during any period in which both the Administrator and Deputy Administrator of NASA (Deputy Administrator) have died, resigned, or otherwise become unable to perform the functions and duties of the office of Administrator, until such time as the Administrator or Deputy Administrator is able to perform the functions and duties of that office:"

Nasa reveals life on Mars, The Sun

"ALIEN bugs are responsible for strong plumes of methane gas detected on Mars, it was claimed tonight."

Reader note: I'm not certain what press release these folks read - or which press conference they watched - but no one "claimed" that the Methane found on Mars is produced by "Alien bugs" or any other biological process. But I guess this headline will sell more newspapers.

Reader note: "Apparently, NASA can not even accomplish such simple tasks as having an employee's current leave accounted for in it's time keeping and leave system (WebTADS) at the beginning of the leave year. It's not rocket science, is it? What company of this size has such practices and what is the NASA CIO's position in regard to such lack of functionality and currentness of this system?"

From Web TADS: "WebTADS leave balances are due to be loaded into the system by February 2, 2009."

Discovery of Methane Reveals Mars Is Not A Dead Planet

"A team of NASA and university scientists has achieved the first definitive detection of methane in the atmosphere of Mars. This discovery indicates the planet is either biologically or geologically active. The team found methane in the Martian atmosphere by carefully observing the planet throughout several Mars years with NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility and the W.M. Keck telescope, both at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The team used spectrometers on the telescopes to spread the light into its component colors, as a prism separates white light into a rainbow. The team detected three spectral features called absorption lines that together are a definitive signature of methane."

Michael Meyer: "Today we are going to hear that Mars is active - whether it is due to geology or biology - we do not know."

Michael Mumma: "Most of you have read this paper in Science."

Reader note: Actually, Dr. Mumma, most of us have not read the paper. I asked NASA PAO for a copy of the paper and they sent me this PDF file which represents what they submitted to Science. This paper represents the work of NASA civil servants and is in the public domain according to PAO.

PlanetSpace Has Filed With the GAO a Protest to the Selection Decision of NASA Under the ISS Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) Competition

"After a careful review of all the facts and in consideration of all of the source selection documentation provided to date, PlanetSpace has filed a protest to NASA's award of the ISS Commercial Resupply Services Contract. PlanetSpace offered a superior proposal. It received a higher Mission Suitability score, from NASA's Source Evaluation Board (SEB), and was lower in Cost than one of the two proposals selected by NASA. Thus, the PlanetSpace proposal represented better value to the Government. We believe that the GAO will find that flaws in the procurement justify award to PlanetSpace. We look forward to the GAO's review of this case."

NASA awards to space station cargo haulers on hold, Reuters

"The GAO declined immediate comment on the protest, other than to say that NASA would have 30 days to respond to the complaint and that it would issue a ruling by April 29. NASA, meanwhile, said only that it was required to suspend work on the contracts in response to the complaint."

Editor's update: Released today:

"SUMMARY: AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT

"In the next two weeks, the Congress will be considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. This package is the first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy, and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century with $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in thoughtful and carefully targeted priority investments with unprecedented accountability measures built in. ... NASA: $600 million, including $400 million to put more scientists to work doing climate change research, including Earth science research recommended by the National Academies, satellite sensors that measure solar radiation critical to understanding climate change, and a thermal infrared sensor to the Landsat Continuing Mapper necessary for water management, particularly in the western states; $150 million for research, development, and demonstration to improve aviation safety and Next Generation air traffic control (NextGen); and $50 million to repair NASA centers damaged by hurricanes and floods last year."

Life On Mars, The Sun

"NASA will hold a science update at 2 p.m. EST, Thursday, Jan. 15, to discuss analysis of the "ALIEN microbes living just below the Martian soil are responsible for a haze of methane around the Red Planet, Nasa scientists believe. The gas, belched in vast quantities in our world by cows, was detected by orbiting spacecraft and from Earth using giant telescopes. Nasa are today expected to confirm its presence during a briefing at their Washington HQ. And the find is seen as exciting new evidence that Martian microbes are still alive today. Some scientists reckon methane is also produced by volcanic processes. But there are NO known active volcanoes on Mars."

Has Nasa found life on Mars?, Guardian

"If a newspaper headline ends in a question mark, the answer is almost always "no". And so it is in this case. Later today, Nasa scientists will announce they have detected enormous releases of methane from Mars. Could it be evidence of martian life? Undoubtedly yes. Is it proof of life on Mars? Certainly not."

Water and methane together equal life on Mars?, Times of India

"A report to be carried in Friday's issue of the journal Science details the observations, made using three telescopes in Hawaii. "The most compelling question relates to the origin of methane on Mars. The methane we detected is of unknown age--its origin could be ancient or perhaps recent," Michael Mumma of NASA and colleagues wrote. The methane appears to have been produced in plumes from certain areas on Mars as temperatures warmed, they said. "Living systems produce more than 90 percent of Earth's atmospheric methane; the balance is of geochemical origin. On Mars, methane could be a signature of either origin," they added."

Clouds of Methane May Mean Life on Mars, Fox News

"(American media outlets are not yet reporting the story because they're honoring an "embargo," a promise to not run a story until a designated time, in this case 2 p.m. EST, when NASA is expected to hold a press conference. The Sun "broke" the embargo, prompting other British papers to follow suit.)"

Editor's update: Classic exaggerated arm waving from the British press - as linked to by the Drudge Report.

Meanwhile, if this embargo information is true (I am checking) then I'd really like to know why news outlets in foreign countries are provided with official NASA news before American taxpayers - the people who actually paid for the research. Indeed, one of the papers above engages in soft porn with their "page 3" photo spreads.

Update: NASA HQ PAO tells me that they have not released anything under embargo. I have not been sent anything under embargo from anyone else so I do not know what is being referred to. But the Times of India is apparently quoting an article in Science magazine - so someone at Science must have sent something out that found its way to them.

This is NASA research and NASA PAO is not even in on the embargo. Michael Mumma is a NASA employee and the research is being announced at a NASA press conference. Very strange. Stay tuned.

NASA Science Update to Discuss Mars Atmosphere Activity

"NASA will hold a science update at 2 p.m. EST, Thursday, Jan. 15, to discuss analysis of the Martian atmosphere that raises the possibility of life or geologic activity. The briefing will take place in the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E St., S.W., Washington, and carried live on NASA Television."

NASA 2.0?

Obama a little confused about today's state, The Swamp (Baltimore Sun - March 2008)

"During the question-and-answer portion of an event at a recreational center here, Obama was asked about the nation's space program. "I grew up on Star Trek," Obama said. "I believe in the final frontier." But Obama said he does not agree with the way the space program is now being run and thinks funding should be trimmed until the mission is clearer. "NASA has lost focus and is no longer associated with inspiration," he said. "I don't think our kids are watching the space shuttle launches. It used to be a remarkable thing. It doesn't even pass for news anymore."

Editor's update: In a video titled "Step Forward" which introduces USAservice.org - public service is highlighted. President-elect Obama narrates and says "You may ask yourself - where's my moon, my levee, my dream ..." as pictures of Apollo 11 and a footprint on the lunar surface appear on the screen. Click on the image to play.

Gration Update

Retired Fighter Pilot to Run NASA?, Washington Post

"What a difference it will make to have an Administrator who has a personal relationship with the President and will have his calls taken," opined one commenter this morning on the NASA Watch blog."

Obama may pick Nutley resident to head NASA, The Star-Ledger

"We've had other administrations who didn't have space backgrounds. He's a retired major general. He has experience running large organizations," said Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut and West Orange native who had not heard of Gration until his name surfaced for the position."

Too early to call NASA chief job for Gration?, Orlando Sentinel

"A retired Air Force general is not an automatic lock to becomes NASA's next administrator, according to sources familiar with the situation. Instead, these sources -- who requested anonymity because of the fluid nature of the nominating process -- cautioned that no final decision has been made in response to reports that J. Scott Gration would lead the space agency."

Ex-Fighter Pilot Could Be Next NASA Chief, Washington Post

"Sources said the selection is not a done deal, but a formal announcement could precede Obama's inauguration. Gration, who retired from the Air Force in 2006, could not be reached for comment. His possible nomination was reported Tuesday night on the Web sites NASA Watch and Space.com. "He's not at all known to members of the space community," space industry analyst John Logsdon said."

Retired Air Force General Is Leading Candidate for NASA's Top Post, Wall Street Journal

"The choice of Gen. Gration was first reported by online industry publications NASA Watch and SpaceRef.com. The personnel moves follow weeks of speculation that the president-elect was leaning toward appointing a scientist or perhaps a former astronaut as NASA administrator. The current agency head, Michael Griffin, has angered some Obama insiders by publicly lobbying to stay on and bristling at the transition team's questions about current priorities."

Gration to Head NASA, MSNBC

"Nelson, the senior Senator from Florida, flew in space himself and when hearing about Gration's possible appointment said, "I think President Bush made a mistake when he appointed someone without NASA experiece in Sean O'Keefe to head the agency." Following the loss of the space shuttle Columbia's crew of seven O'Keefe was replaced by current NASA Administrator Michael Griffin."

Editor's update: The following was provided by former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe in response to Jay Barbree's article at MSNBC today:

"Jay, just saw your online posting. I didn't realize you had such a dismissive opinion of my tenure. Sen. Nelson never expressed his disapproval, but he's certainly entitled to his view.

But regardless of your opinions, the facts in your column are a bit off. The Columbia accident happened barely a year after I arrived at NASA. Your article infers that Mike Griffin replaced me soon after the Columbia tragedy. In fact, it was nearly two and a half years later.

In that span of time, we formulated a new strategy for NASA -- the Vision for Space Exploration -- announced in January 2004 almost a year after Columbia. We implemented all the Return to Flight requirements recommended by the CAIB before my departure. My successor arrived in time to witness the RTF launch. In between those events we landed the Rovers on Mars - developed, built and launched during my tenure - and kept the space station occupied and supplied through a close cooperation with our Russian space colleagues

So, in spite of my lacking prior experience at NASA, perhaps we did OK? Of course, all that was accomplished is a testimonial to the great commitment of the professionals at NASA. I was given the priviledge of serving them.

Best regards, Sean"

Coburn Sings 'Rocket Man' for Nelson, The Hill

"Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) followed through on his bet with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) over college football's national title game by singing Elton John's "Rocket Man" before some of Nelson and Coburn's staff on Wednesday."

Editor's note: Video below. Warning: this one can probably cause brain damage. I could not even watch the whole thing. Yet Sen. Nelson really sees to think he's actually good. So much for good taste, I suppose.

Gration to Head NASA, MSNBC

"Nelson, the senior Senator from Florida, flew in space himself and when hearing about Gration's possible appointment said, "I think President Bush made a mistake when he appointed someone without NASA experiece in Sean O'Keefe to head the agency."

Editor's update: Hmm, isn't it ironic that someone like Bill Nelson would say this about someone else's job qualifications when he himself got a chance to fly on a space shuttle with absolutely no qualifications whatsoever. I'm told that many in the astronaut office gave Nelson the nickname "ballast" at the time. Curiously, Jay Barbree never bothered to mention this blatant hypocrisy. How quickly we all forget.

Key U.S. Senator Cautions Obama on NASA Pick, Space.com

"I think President Bush made a mistake when he appointed someone without NASA experience in Sean O'Keefe to head the agency. I hope President Obama's pick will have that kind of [NASA] background," Nelson said today through his spokesman, Dan McLaughlin."

Editor's update: Again, it is hypocritical in the extreme for Nelson's PR flack to be thumping this theme when his own boss used his position to get a seat on a Space Shuttle - a seat he was utterly unqualified to occupy.

Editor's update: Interestingly, Gration was the very last to be introduced - and then spoke on behalf of the swarm of generals and admirals on the stage. There should be little doubt that he is hot wired to President-elect Obama. Stay tuned.

Video below

More gays to serve in Obama White House, Washington Blade

"Dave Noble, a gay man led efforts to mobilize gay voters for Obama's presidential campaign, will serve as the White House's liaison to NASA."

Editor's update: This is the only article that I came across that describes the new White House liaison to NASA. It is titled what it is titled - and it was published where it was published. If any of you wish to infer that I have a bias in some regard and that I am trying to be sensational, you could not be more wrong. Moreover, if you want to submit posts that get into this guy's personal life, as some of you have, they will simply be ignored. There is zero tolerance for bigotry on NASA Watch.

Recession may ground space flights, The Hill

"President-elect Obama will have to decide the fate of the costly U.S. space program amid a global recession and skyrocketing deficits. Obama faces a decision at the end of April on whether to continue the Space Shuttle initiative, which NASA otherwise plans to shut down. Congress last fall set a deadline for the new administration to decide this spring on whether to reverse course and continue the program, still the only way NASA has to transport Americans into space. Extending the program would come at a high cost; two shuttle flights a year cost $3 billion, according to outgoing NASA administrator Michael Griffin. Thats even more expensive with a $1.2 trillion fiscal-year deficit as a backdrop."

Secret inspection satellites boost space intelligence ops, Craig Covault, SpaceflightNow

"In a top secret operation, the U.S. Defense Dept. is conducting the first deep space inspection of a crippled U.S. military spacecraft. To do this, it is using sensors on two covert inspection satellites that have been prowling geosynchronous orbit for nearly three years. The failed satellite being examined is the $400 million U.S. Air Force/Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program DSP 23 missile warning satellite. It died in 2008 after being launched successfully from Cape Canaveral in November 2007 on the first operational Delta 4-Heavy booster."

Craig Covault joins Spaceflight Now

"Craig Covault, one of the world's most respected aerospace journalists, is joining the Spaceflight Now team as Editor-at-Large. With about 3,000 articles to his name and nearly four decades in the business, Craig will further strengthen Spaceflight Now's unrivaled coverage of the space program."

Good Morning Houston

Editor's note: I am scheduled to be on I am onNewsRadio 740 - KTRHat 7:30 am CST this morning.

Editor's update: Wow. I found myself in complete agreement with GWSA (George Abbey) - who was also interviewed!

Editor's note: Sources report that The Obama Transition Team has circulated a name for vetting for the job of NASA Administrator: Major General Jonathan Scott Gration. The name may not ring a bell, but Gration was an early Obama supporter and has been advising him on things since the start of Obama's campaign. As you can see from his online resume Gration is no wallflower. Indeed, having been vetted by life, so to speak, the process of vetting him for the NASA Administrator's job - and subsequent confirmation, ought to be a cinch.

Meanwhile, sources now report that Charles Kennel is not being formally vetted for the Administrator's job but rather, he was contacted at some point by the Obama folks to bounce some ideas off of him.

The last time NASA had an Administrator with close personal ties to the White House, (Sean O'Keefe), NASA got the Vision for Space Exploration. O'Keefe's successor had zero White House credentials or political savvy and NASA's accumulated political capital began to evaporate - and with it support for the resources and attention that the agency needed. If indeed Gen. Gration does turn out to be the nominee, and the next NASA Administrator is a close confidant of the President ...

Hero-Worshipping Obama, Newsweek

"The candidate's new Swahili-speaking military adviser, Gen. Scott Gration, sees him as America's Mandela. The general also has some strong views of his own: 'I believe if you could get rid of all the nuclear weapons this would be a wonderful world,' he says."

Scott Gration, Wikipedia

"... spent a year assisting Hans Mark, the Deputy Administrator of NASA."

Lawmakers want Obama to remove NASA inspector general, Federal Times

"Two Democratic congressmen have renewed calls for the removal of NASA Inspector General Robert "Moose" Cobb, citing a new Government Accountability Office report critical of Cobb's track record auditing NASA programs and detecting fraud, waste and abuse."

GAO: NASA needs to improve its internal audits, Federal Computer Week

"The NASA IG office disagreed with the GAO's findings and questioned the depth and scope of the evaluation, according to the report. "

Lockheed Martin-Built Stardust Spacecraft to Fly By Earth Jan. 14 - Stardust-NExT on Its Way to Explore Comet Tempel 1

"On Jan. 14, NASA's Stardust-NExT spacecraft will fly by Earth during a gravity assist maneuver that will increase its velocity and sling shot the spacecraft into an orbit to meet up with comet Tempel 1 in February 2011. Flight operations for the spacecraft are performed from Lockheed Martin's Mission Support Area in Denver, Colo. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. provides the precision navigation need for the flyby and the journey to Tempel 1. The Lockheed Martin-built spacecraft's closest approach will happen at 12:33 p.m. MST as it comes within 5,690 miles (9,157 km) of Earth. At its closest point, the spacecraft will fly over the California/Mexico border south of San Diego at a speed of approximately 22,400 miles per hour (36,000 kilometer per hour)."

Editor's note: NASA PAO doesn't seem to be aware of this cool flyby. There is no mention here or here at these official NASA Stardust websites or at JPL's main site. Oh well, at least Lockheed Martin is paying attention.

Qualify test, get a ticket to Nasa, The Telegraph (Calcutta, India)

"Want to see outer space and life of an astronaut from close range? Pass an examination and your dream would turn into reality. Students of Jharkhand and Bihar would soon get a golden opportunity to visit National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa). ... The students will be on a 15-day visit to the US where Nasa will host them. The boarding, lodging, travelling, medical and visa expenditure would sponsor the students."

NASA and Challenger Center Announce Name of Antarctic Habitat

"NASA and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education have selected the winner of the Antarctic habitat naming contest. The name "Resolution" took top honors in the "Name that Habitat" competition. The winning name was submitted by 9th grade students at Holy Cross High School in Delran, N.J. and was under the command of Captain James Cook. Holy Cross students said the new habitat represents an advance in technology, much as Cook's ship did. The students also pointed out that the word "resolution" aptly describes America's intent to explore space."

Using a Planetary Analog To Test a Prototype Inflated Habitat for NASA

NASA chief warns of layoffs if funding levels frozen, Houston Chronicle

"Outgoing NASA administrator Michael Griffin warned today that the space agency may have to lay off an unspecified number of contractors on the back-to-the-moon Constellation program if Congress continues to freeze NASA spending below the $17.6 billion requested for this year by the Bush administration. Griffin told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Space Foundation that continuing funding of the space agency at the level specified in a temporary budget resolution would force the personnel cutbacks."

Editor's note: Isn't it funny how Mike Griffin only plays the layoff scare tactic a few days before he leaves NASA - and does so as a parting shot? This media briefing was not for all the media - only a select few. Others were not allowed to attend. This was likely to be Griffin's last media availability as Administrator. As such, this is very much in keeping with his personal distain for the media and his preference for organizations such as the Space Foundation who are not interested in transparency. Of course, David Mould agreed with this selective media access. Hopefully that will begin to change in a few days.

Reader update: "I've been following what the Obama Transition team has been doing with their Change.gov website and saw that just recently they created something they call the Citizen's Briefing Book. The idea behind this is for people to : "Share your ideas on any issue facing the new administration, then rate or comment on other ideas. The best rated ideas will rise to the top -- and be gathered into a Citizen's Briefing Book to be delivered to President Obama after he is sworn in." Right now there are a few regarding NASA and space exploration but not enough votes to rise to the top. I just wanted to let you know about this with hopes that you would make a post about it. Your website reaches a large pro-space audience and maybe with that kind of exposure the space exploration ideas will have a chance to reach our President-elect."

UK NASA Hacker Update

Nasa hacker: I'll plead guilty in the UK, ZDNet

"Self-confessed hacker Gary McKinnon has told UK prosecutors he will plead guilty to charges in the UK, a move that could help him avoid extradition to the US. Show related articles McKinnon has been accused by US prosecutors of "the biggest military hack of all time", after entering Nasa and Pentagon systems."

NASA Hacker May be Tried in UK, PC World

"While McKinnon says his exploits did not cause any damage, the U.S. allege that McKinnon stole 950 passwords and deleted files at a naval base in New Jersey, responsible for replenishing munitions and supplies for the Atlantic fleet. They also maintain the intrusions disrupted computer networks used by the military that were critical to operations conducted after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The U.S. estimates the damage caused by McKinnon at $700,000."

Charles F. Kennel Bio

NAC Science Committee Continues to Shrink, earlier post

"The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) Science Committee has just lost three of its members. Charles Kennel (Chair), Wes Huntress, and Eugene Levy have resigned. More to follow. Word has it that the three committee members who quit were asked to quit because of their insistence that they wanted to give advice to NASA regarding its entire range of science research - not just the subset relating to moon exploration."

Editor's update: Sources report that Kennel has expressed surprise at the sudden interest by the Obama Transition Team and has confirmed that he is apparently under serious consideration for the NASA Administrator slot. Meanwhile, other sources report that Charles Bolden has yet to be contacted by the Obama Transition Team.

Griffin Bids Farwell

"NASA UPDATE WITH THE ADMINISTRATOR:

Administrator Michael Griffin will host a NASA Update on Friday, January 16, at 11 a.m. (EST), in the NASA Headquarters Auditorium. The program will be broadcast live from NASA Headquarters on NASA TV and the Web. During the program, employees will be able to ask questions from NASA Headquarters and participating field centers. If you cannot ask your question during the program, you may send it by e-mail to: nasaupdate@hq.nasa.gov. Please join the administrator for this important NASA Update."

Roselee Roberts Joins ESMD

From: exploration-bounces@lists.hq.nasa.gov
Sent: Mon Jan 12 07:57:17 2009
Subject: [exploration] Welcome Roselee Roberts

Good Morning, Please welcome Roselee Roberts to ESMD. Roselee starts today and will be Special Assistant to the ESMD Associate Administrator. Roselee comes to ESMD from the Deputy Administrator's Office where she was Special Assistant to the Deputy Administrator and headed an Action Team for the Deputy. She has extensive Hill and industry experience and will be a great asset to the Directorate.

Welcome Roselee!

Regards, Rebecca

Rebecca L. Spyke Keiser, Ph.D. Chief of Staff
Exploration Systems Mission Directorate

Editor's update: According to JSC PAO the rover will be at the very end of the parade. Along the way it will demonstrate its various control features including the ever popular "crab walk". Astronauts from the STS-126 crew as well as other astronauts and NASA personnel will walk alongside the rover. The rover will be driven by astronaut Mike Gernhardt. The two space suits attached to the back end of the rover will be occupied by a spacesuit technician and astronaut Rex Walheim. When the rover gets to the reviewing stand it will stop, Walheim will disconnect himself from the rover, step down, hold up an American flag and salute President Obama.

The rover will be shipped to Washington DC by truck. I am awaiting cost numbers from NASA for the rover, NASA personnel (including the technicians who support the rover) and other costs associated with NASA's participation - as well as who is footing the bill. I suspect (but do not have any numbers) that when is all said and done, the cost will be cheaper than some of the silly extravaganzas that are regularly featured in the parade. A media day will be held at NASA HQ on 21 January from 1:30 to 3:00 featuring the rover.

Earlier posts

RT @egvick: free silicon solar cells for student project groups http://sefspaceworks.com/?q=node

GAO: Inspectors General: Actions Needed to Improve Audit Coverage of NASA

"We believe that the lack of OIG recommendations regarding the economy and efficiency of NASA's programs and activities has resulted in the relatively low amount of reported monetary accomplishments when compared to other OIGs during fiscal year 2007. By comparing the OIG's budgetary resources of about $34 million for the same year with the combined monetary accomplishments for audits and investigations, there is a $0.36 return for each budget dollar. When this calculation is made for all 30 OIGs with IGs appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the cumulative return for each budget dollar is approximately $9.49, or about 26 times that of the NASA OIG. Also, when compared to these other OIGs, the year that the NASA OIG had its largest reported monetary accomplishment from audits, it ranked 27 in return for each budget dollar out of the 28 OIG offices reporting monetary accomplishments for fiscal year 2007."

SpaceX's Falcon 9 on Launch Pad at Cape Canaveral (with photos)

"SpaceX announced its Falcon 9 launch vehicle was successfully raised to vertical on Saturday, January 10, 2009, at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral, Florida -- two days ahead of schedule. This operation was a critical step in validating a variety of system interfaces and launch processes in preparation for the maiden flight of Falcon 9 later this year. SpaceX completed the Falcon 9 vehicle integration in a horizontal position on December 30, 2008. After integration, Falcon 9 was lifted and mated to a transporter erector system, designed and built by SpaceX, which carried the 17 foot diameter, 180 foot long rocket to the launch pad. On January 10, 2009 at 12:45 PM EST, SpaceX began the process of raising Falcon 9 and approximately 30 minutes later, Falcon 9 stood vertical at the Cape."

Final Memorandum on the Review of the Space Shuttle Liquid Hydrogen Fuel Tank Sensors, NASA OIG

"We found that the Project Office initiated appropriate actions to identify and resolve LH2 sensor nonconformance issues by reviewing manufacturing and testing processes. As a result, the Project Office recommended that modifications be made to the supplier's manufacturing process and to the contractor's acceptance testing processes. In addition, we found that because of the Project Office's review, the contractor implemented a detailed inventory control measure that segregated the sensors into two inventories--Flight Ready inventory and 74L4-2 Parts inventory."

Editor's note: Some issues are being worked between DOJ and the White House as to whether Chris Scolese can serve as Acting Administrator when Mike Griffin departs until the Obama Administration's candidate is confirmed by the Senate.

Contrary to some rumors going around, Shana Dale will most certainly not be Acting Administrator. Friday is her last day at NASA.

It is important to note that this is a personnel issue being managed by the current Bush Administration - not the Obama Transition Team since it deals with personnel events before 20 January.

NASA Science Update to Discuss Mars Atmosphere Activity

"NASA will hold a science update at 2 p.m. EST, Thursday, Jan. 15, to discuss analysis of the Martian atmosphere that raises the possibility of life or geologic activity. The briefing will take place in the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E St., S.W., Washington, and carried live on NASA Television."

The Martian Methane Surprise - Interview with Mike Mumma, Astrobiology Magazine

"In this interview with Astrobiology Magazine editor Leslie Mullen, Mumma explains how they detected the methane, and what it could mean for the chance for life on Mars."

New Aerospace Technology, 'Aerogel,' the Highest Insulating Material in Existence, Now Available to the Building Industry

"Taking the newly discovered Aerogel insulation technology developed by NASA, which is the highest insulating material in existence, Thermablok(TM) developed an amazing product that may soon become a requirement in the building industry. Aerogel, also referred to as "frozen smoke," has been difficult to adapt to most uses because of its fragility. The patented Thermablok material however overcomes this by using a unique fiber to suspend a proprietary formula of Aerogel such that it can be bent or compressed while still retaining its amazing insulation properties."

"Wall-E" Wins a Golden Globe for Best Animated Film, MacBlogz

"Disney Pixar's animated film Wall-E took home a golden globe Sunday evening for best animated film. Director Andrew Stanton was on hand to accept the award. Stanton thanked Pixar Animations which produced the film, and Walt Disney, which distributed the film. Specifically, he said the entire message and communication between humans and obscure robots "couldn't have been made anywhere else."

NASA and Disney Invite Kids to Explore Space With Wall-E, NASA

"NASA and Disney have signed a Space Act Agreement for a series of educational and public outreach activities related to Disney-Pixar's new movie, WALL-E, opening in theaters nationwide on June 27, 2008."

WALL-E, Box Office Mojo

"Domestic Total Gross: $223,808,164"

Editor's note: If NASA was really paying attention to what people are interested in - with the thought of how to engage their interest in space exploration - they'd have WALL-E in the Inaugrual Parade. Oh wait - WALL-E is just a make believe rover - in many ways, just like JSC's rover. Yet I will bet more people watching the parade would know WALL-E's name ...

Name NASA's Next Mars Rover, NASA JPL

NASA WALL-E Video Below

NASA Students on Facebook

The NASA Students Group Is Now on Facebook

"NASA has a Facebook page designed for students in grades 9-12 and higher education. The page is updated daily, excluding weekends and holidays. It features information for students regarding competitions, feature articles, podcasts, videos and more.

Information is also posted to update students on opportunities that have an upcoming deadline, when the space shuttle is preparing for a launch or a landing, and other significant NASA events."

Transcript of interview with President Bush, Star Telegram

"And so my first purpose on the NASA issue was to develop a mission that would excite the scientists, the employees, and the Congress. That has been accomplished."

Editor's note: And as far as what the remaining 99.99% of the population wants ... ? Oh yes, the rocket is named "Ares".

"Q: Can I ask about a parochial Houston subject -- NASA?

THE PRESIDENT: Sure.

Q: Over the last eight years, they've had to make some decisions on priorities and spending. I was wondering how you assess how well NASA has done during your presidency and what do you think lies ahead for space exploration, and particularly manned space exploration.

Why Space? Why Now?

Why Space? Why Now? That is the Question, Dennis Wingo, SpaceRef

"As we all know another administration change is coming and with change as the operative theme of this administration, we can surely expect that this will come to NASA's direction. Many people are anticipating this (except for the current administrator) and are formulating their plans on how we can "improve" upon Dr. Griffin's ESAS architecture. I get calls from many of these people and participate in some of the discussions. However, as I hear these calls and read the position papers there is a feeling of something missing and the thing that is missing is what has left us circling the Earth in some form or fashion for the past 36 years. The thing that is missing is a compelling "why" as a fundamental rational for our space efforts."

Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program - A Joint Space Studies Board and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board Study Questionnaire for Public Input. Please provide input by January 30, 2009!

Space Goals - One more time, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"It would appear that we are in the midst of yet another attempt to define the goals and objectives of our national space program. This time, the National Academy of Sciences is conducting a study on the Rationale and Goals of the U. S. Civil Space Program. After completion, this study will no doubt be consigned to the large pile of previous studies gathering dust on the bookshelves of space students everywhere."

GAO Rips OIG

GAO Report Finds Failure of Oversight by NASA IG

"Today, the Government Accountability Office released a report, "Inspectors General: Actions Needed to Improve Audit Coverage of NASA," which found that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) under Robert "Moose" Cobb returned only 36 cents for every dollar in its budget. Cobb's role as the Inspector General is to reduce waste and save the agency money. In a ranking of 30 agency OIG offices, Cobb's office ranked 27th in recommended savings for every dollar spent. The report was requested by: Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology; Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight during the 110th Congress; and Senator Charles Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee."

Report: NASA inspector general not catching enough, AP

NASA Selects Research Teams for Lunar Science Institute

"NASA has selected seven academic and research teams as initial members of the agency's Lunar Science Institute. The institute supports scientific research to supplement and extend existing NASA lunar science programs in coordination with U.S. space exploration policy. The selection of the members encompasses academic institutions, non-profit research institutes, private companies, NASA centers and other government laboratories. Selections were based on a competitive evaluation process that began with the release of a cooperative agreement notice in June 2008. The next solicitation opportunity for new members will take place in approximately two years."

NASA begins to contemplate life without Mike , Orlando Sentinel

"Griffin opposes efforts to rethink his rocket designs or keep the shuttle flying beyond its planned 2010 retirement date. He has said that continuing to fly the shuttle is not only expensive but also unsafe for astronauts, citing a 1-in-8 chance of losing a shuttle every 10 flights. Shannon, however, distanced himself from some of Griffin's views, saying that he told Obama transition team members that the shuttle could be flown safely without risking astronaut lives for a "limited period of time."

NASA Needs Wil Wheaton

Editor's note: Remember when I said that "NASA needs Kirk not Scotty" the other day? Well I was wrong. NASA needs Wesley.

The other day many of the NASA Gen Y crowd were furiously tweeting and retweeting a link via Twitter that points to yet another Administrator poll/petition site. At first, although skewed by their preferences, it seemed to at least have some of the right names on it (even if I was deemed more qualified than Wes Huntress for a few days). Then yesterday it turned into yet another example of Internet narcissism by deluge of followers of the guy who runs Bad Astronomy blog. Alas, my "followers" were weak by comparison. I am clearly not worthy. Oh well. Here is a chance to boost Wil Wheaton's post-Star Trek career (he is currently Number 2). He actually has some interesting things to say. Give him your support. Maybe he can fix NOMAD.

P.S. Although Mike Griffin is leaving NASA, you can still be one of the 3,000 people (real and imaginary) who supported his quest to stay on the job. The current tally is 2,919, so time is running out if you want to be part of that elite group of 3,000. The most popular Griffin supporter name thus far is "Anonymous". In addition, "Frank Poole" (the movie astronaut killed by HAL 9000) and "Harry Stamper" (Bruce Willis in "Armageddon") are still unwavering in their support of Mike as well.

Editor's note: Wil Wheaton's name suddenly disappeared from this online "poll" despite clearly being in second place. So much for the veracity of these sites - not that anyone suspected that there was.

Transition Team Update

MSFC gets ear of next White House, Huntsville Times

"Rex Geveden, president of Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc. and a former Marshall deputy director, along with Shar Hendrick, a former Marshall liaison to Congress, met with transition team members in Washington."

Editor's note: One of the DIRECT guys is supposed to have met with the Transition Team at NASA to talk about their Powerpoint rocket as well. Word has it Buzz was going with them. Contrary to rumoured intentions, the job of the NASA Transition Team is not to pass judgement on everything at NASA - but rather, to collect data. At some point, someone will ask if they have heard of one engineering idea or another - or heard the concerns of one field center vs another. Or paid attention to a prominent ego or vocal advocacy group. They cannot listen to everyone, but it is worth their time to try and do their best in that regard such that the largest population feels that they have had a shot at providing input and advice.

It is the Transition Team's job to have covered all the bases - even if some of the input is of marginal or mostly pro forma value in the grander scheme of things. If you look at Change.gov you will see that the Obama effort is erring on the side of being inclusive and transparent. Contrary to its popularly rumoured closed door activities, the Transition Team members onsite at NASA are not making engineering or programatic decisions. Nor are they selecting the next NASA Administrator. They are collecting data for others to use. The really hard work - by others - starts on 20 Jan 2009.

Previous Transition Team Updates

Editor's update: Oh no: all the DIRECT fanboys are upset with me again - including bodily function puns. (Sigh). Others are throwing hissy fits about how awful I am when it comes to their pet rocket - yet at least a dozen reader posts here today mention DIRECT and/or Jupiter. Oh well. I certainly hope they conducted their discourse in a more adult fashion with the Transition Team.

NASA Renegades Pitch Obama Team New Post-Shuttle Plan, Popular Mechanics

"We were received well, but they were very clear they are offering no opinions at this point," says Ross Tierney, a collectible space model kit designer from Florida who presented the alternative plan. "To get what is essentially a presidential level meeting is an honor and privilege for us. We hope something comes of it." .... During today's meeting, the Jupiter Direct team presented a copy of the February issue of Popular Mechanics that profiles the origin and spread of their alternative idea."

Editor's update: a "collectible space model kit designer" made the presentation? They couldn't even find a real engineer? Oh well, now the Transition Team can check that box off their list.

Editor's note: According to various Twitter postings and email messages, Mike Griffin is wowing the crowds at JSC today. Where next?

Earth Scientist Emerges as Possible Replacement for NASA Chief, space.com

"Despite a last-ditch campaign by some supporters to keep NASA Administrator Mike Griffin on the job, the transition team of President-elect Barack Obama is now vetting a handful of replacement candidates, among them scientist Charles Kennel, who previously ran the agency's Earth science division, according to sources familiar with the situation."

NAC Science Committee Continues to Shrink, earlier post

"The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) Science Committee has just lost three of its members. Charles Kennel (Chair), Wes Huntress, and Eugene Levy have resigned. More to follow. Word has it that the three committee members who quit were asked to quit because of their insistence that they wanted to give advice to NASA regarding its entire range of science research - not just the subset relating to moon exploration."

It is rocket science - NASA can bring space advancements down to benefit Earth, MarketWatch

"NASA is promoting itself in more down to earth terms these days: It claims the technology it develops to explore life in outer space can actually help sustain life on this planet. NASA's "Greenspace" is a Web site launched last year to showcase several environmentally friendly projects that are underway at NASA's Ames Research Center."

Greenspace

Editor's note: This is a far more likely outcome given the pattern and themes that Obama's team has followed on related nominations such as OSTP and NOAA. Wes Huntress has reportedly taken himself out of consideration otherwise he'd fit the bill as well. One thing to note folks: if someone is under consideration, they certainly know it by now. And if they know it, as Scott Pace wisely suggested, they don't show it. You do not do this sort of thing at the last minute - especially within the "No Drama Obama" team.

Meanwhile, Gen. Bolden still claims to have not been contacted in any way. Other names that continue to fill up my email box include Stern, Worden, Hubbard. And the fact that I keep hearing them means absolutely nothing. As has been the case with O'Keefe and Griffin - and with most of the Obama nominees - it is likely that the real name will emerge only shortly before they are formally named.

Reassessing Constellation will waste space resources - Obama should rename Griffin as NASA's leader, opinion, Gene Kranz, Houston Chronicle

"President-elect Barack Obama faces challenges that will define his administration for years to come. His Cabinet selections indicate that he is building an outstanding leadership team that will competently serve our nation during the critical government transition and the early years of his administration. Soon he must decide to extend the tenure of the current administrator, Mike Griffin, or select a new NASA administrator."

We Have a Long Way to Go - Presentation by NASA Administrator Mike Griffin to the Space Transportation Association

"Last year, I addressed the considerations governing the design of NASA's Constellation architecture, to get on the record why the design is what it is. However, judging by the many questions I receive on the topic, I didn't do a very good job, so I will try again today. And, while I will try not to repeat what I have said in prior speeches and testimony, I must admit that in tackling these issues I am reminded of Shakespeare's Henry V: "Once more into the breach, dear friends ..." Constellation was designed to implement a new civil space policy, articulated by the president in the aftermath of the Columbia accident, and modified, extended, and enhanced by both Republican and Democratic Congresses in the NASA Authorization Acts of 2005 and 2008."

We think: NASA's chief paved the way for his exit by dismissing other views, editorial, Orlando Sentinel

"Barring a reprieve from President-elect Barack Obama, Michael Griffin appears on his way out after nearly four years as NASA's administrator. It's high time for him to go. Mr. Griffin brought unmatched credentials as a scientist and engineer to the administrator's job when he took over in 2005. Under his leadership, NASA completed the lengthy and difficult process of returning shuttles to flight after the 2003 Columbia disaster and got back to building the international space station. But Mr. Griffin's approach to NASA's next manned mission -- the moon and Mars program called Constellation -- has been my-way-or-the-highway. Coupled with his cavalier attitude toward chronic cost overruns in other programs, Mr. Griffin has become the wrong man to steer the agency forward. His impatience with criticism is a troubling throwback to the days when dissenting views at NASA were suppressed, with disastrous consequences."

Editor's note: Have a look at this excerpt from the recently revised NASA Organization description. Missing is the Office of Communications Planning. It has been eliminated. Curiously it is still listed here (or here if you are inside the NASA firewall).

NASA Policy Directive NPD 1000.3D

Effective Date: December 3, 2008
Expiration Date: December 3, 2013

The NASA Organization

4.13 CHIEF OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS.

NASA: Keeping shuttle costs $3 billion yearly, AP

"The cost of continuing the life of the space shuttle past next year's planned retirement is $3 billion a year plus extending the risk of a deadly accident, NASA's chief said Thursday. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told an industry group that NASA has looked into what it would take to keep flying the aging shuttle past 2010. Otherwise, it will mean five years of relying on Russia to get astronauts to the international space station."

Editor's note: Mike Griffin will be giving an agencywide All Hands presentation on 16 January. He then goes away for a 2 week ski vacation and does not come back. He has submitted his resignation letter but has heard nothing back. More to follow.

Best Science Blog?

Editor's note: Wow. Someone with nothing better to do has nominated NASA Watch in the Best Science Blog category for the 2008 weblog awards. You can go here to vote for (or against) NASAWatch.

Editor's note: OK. I give up. I have tried to keep the rumor mongering and speculation about Mike Griffin's replacement at a low level roar, but everyone seems to be in the mood to speculate these days. Doc has his "Keep Mike" petition and it would seem that everyone that the media talks to these days is "advising" or "familiar with" what the Transition Team is thinking - even before the Transition Team itself knows what it is thinking.

So, have at it. Vote early and often.

Who do you think should be the next administrator of NASA - and why?. Please try and make the suggestions serious. But if you can't fight the urge, then at least try to be funny and/or creative.

Editor's note: The following email was sent out this morning by Marty Hauser, the Space Foundation's VP for Washington operations. It was sent to some members of the media - but not all. I am not on their list it would seem (sigh).

"Please join the Space Foundation for a Q&A breakfast discussion with NASA Administrator Mike Griffin on Tuesday, January 13 at 9 a.m. The event will take place at the City Club of Washington (Franklin Square location), 1300 I Street, N.W., Washington D.C. Please RSVP to SFCG@spacefoundation.org Dr. Griffin began his duties as the 11th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on April 14, 2005. As Administrator, he leads the NASA team and manages its resources to advance the U.S. Vision for Space Exploration.

NASA chief's wife to Obama: Don't fire my husband, AP

"As for Griffin's book of speeches, it was a natural for the NASA history office and coincides with the end of the presidential term, Mould said. NASA printed 2,500 books at a cost of $57,000 with the ability to produce more..."

Editor's note: I just got my copy of Mike Griffin's book Leadership in Space" NASA SP 2008-564. Despite Dave Mould's comments, I cannot find any mention of the NASA History Office in this book. Yet all of the books I have that the NASA History Office has put out clearly say so. Nor is there any mention of this book on the History Office website. I am told that the Administrator's office actually paid for this book.

Mike Griffin Has A New Book Out for Christmas, earlier post

Editor's note: As has always been the case, when NASA's next Administrator has been under consideration, rumors fly, names are floated (some sane, some wacky), rumors abound, unsuspecting people suddenly see their names online and get annoying phone calls late at night at home and ... well, you know the process. Usually, none of this is close to correct.

A blog posting by the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday has exploded into a series of un-sourced stories that suddenly proclaim former astronaut Charles Bolden as the front runner to replace outgoing Administrator Mike Griffin (spousal petition campaign not withstanding).

As they say, nature (and the news) abhors a vacuum.

Let's take a deep breath.

First of all, Mike Griffin is toast (sorry Scott and Becky, game over). Second, President-elect Obama has a broad plan. Alas, NASA's role in this plan is only partially colored in. Despite wild ruminations about what the Transition Team at NASA does or does not do or want, many things remain in limbo.

That said, Charlie Bolden is an A-1, five star class act. At some point I will convey a seemingly innocuous encounter I had with him 20 years ago in Building 4 at JSC which, to me, speaks volumes about the man. Sean O'Keefe sought him out to be his deputy. Pentagon politics thwarted that plan. NASA's loss.

This may all be media hype. It may also be spot on. One thing is certain, Mike Griffin is leaving. Obama has a plan. I can see a clear path wherein Bolden is a player at NASA. His post-NASA career speaks volumes to his leadership capabilities.

Let it happen as it needs to happen, folks. Look forward, not backward.

This could be good. Very good. You can buy engineering smarts by the yard. Yet true leadership is much harder to find, and trumps engineering smarts 7 days a week. This is more than being the smartest guy in the room. It is about knowing when this is - or is not - the case. Oops, Mike Griffin never installed that software.

In the final equation, Mike Griffin is just dime-a-dozen hired help. In contrast, Charlie Bolden is a much rarer breed: NASA at its finest.

NASA needs a Kirk in the captain's chair, not a Scotty.

Keep Mike: Week Two

Transition Watch: Petitioning at NASA, Federal Times

"But despite these obvious roadblocks, this reporter wonders if Rebecca Griffin won't be successful in the end. After all, in recent years there have been a few successful online campaigns. For example, in 2007, the fans for the now-cancelled show "Jericho" used an online appeal to convince CBS to keep the program on the air for another season. And a couple of New York Mets fans started an online petition to save the team's giant homerun apple from the scrapheap or auction block after the team moves from Shea Stadium to the new Citi Field this spring. The Star-Ledger reports that the apple will be on display at Citi Field. If television and sports fans can meet with such success, surely fans of the NASA administrator can mount a successful campaign...right?"

Utahn petitioning Obama to keep current NASA administrator (with video!), KSL

"In the coming weeks, Horowitz will send the signatures to the president-elect; he'll also personally take copies to Capitol Hill. Horowitz says it's a small trip, considering the trip this country is capable of with Griffin at the helm. "I truly believe without his leadership NASA will have a hard time returning to the moon and going to Mars," Horowitz said."

Editor's note: "Signatures", Doc? On some pages, one third of the names are "Anonymous", many are fake ("Frank Poole", "Heywood Floyd", "Delos D. Harriman" etc.), and none of them can be verified. All you have to do is log in and log out at Starbucks and you get get a new IP each time. Oh well.

Keep Mike Petition

NASA: Mike Griffin out, Charlie Bolden in?, Orlando Sentinel

"Some of his closest friends and supporters, including his wife, Rebecca Griffin, and former astronaut Scot Horowitz, launched a campaign to try to convince the incoming administration to keep Griffin, a veteran rocket scientist. The sometimes heavy-handed effort ranged from soliciting members of Congress during the last space shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Center, to a much publicized on-line petition and even an e-mail from Rebecca urging that her husband be retained. But Beltway insiders say the effort backfired and even some of Griffin's most ardent supporters on the Hill, like Florida's senior senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, saw the lobbying as craven."

Boosters of Incumbent NASA Head May Be Doing Him No Favors, Congressional Quarterly

"Scott Horowitz, a former astronaut and associate NASA administrator, has been circulating a petition to keep Griffin on board. And just before Christmas, Griffin's wife sent out an e-mail to friends urging them to sign the same document. "This strikes me as pretty unusual, especially to be so public. There's nothing about what I've read or heard that would seem to help Griffin's chances of being retained," said David Goldston, former staff director of the House Science Committee under Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y. "Administrations generally, and this one in particular, seem to recoil at being put in a box publicly."

Ex-astronaut emerges as NASA prospect, MSNBC

"Sources involved in the White House transition said Bolden was under consideration for the NASA post, but they did not indicate that a final decision had been made. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the selection process publicly."

Editor's note: All of the people mentioned in these articles as Administrator candidates have expressed overt disinterest in the job at one point or another. Bolden has made statements that no one in an official or unofficial capacity has approached him on the topic. Then again, people can change their minds.

Bolden is widely admired - indeed, Sean O'Keefe wanted him to be his deputy until Donald Rumsfeld made that impossible. Of course, it should not be a surprise that Bill Nelson is promoting Bolden - they both flew on STS-61C.

At this point, of all the names floated in these articles, only Scott Hubbard has been seeking the job albeit quietly. Hubbard got a gold star from NASA Watch for his defense of his workforce as Mike Griffin eviscerated it.

As for who will be acting Administrator when Mike Griffin leaves, that has not been decided yet. But Mike Griffin is indeed leaving NASA, folks. His antics of late have simply served to make this a certainty.

Stay tuned.

Ares V Update

NASA Seeks Concept Proposals for Ares V Heavy Lift Rocket

"On Monday, Jan. 5, NASA issued a request for proposal for the Ares V rocket that will perform heavy lift and cargo functions as part of the next generation of spacecraft that will return humans to the moon. The request is for Phase I concept definition and requirements development for the Ares V rocket. The request for proposal defines the procurement approach for Phase I of the Ares V acquisition. The contract work will include developing products to enable NASA to successfully complete the system requirements review and system definition review, critical milestones in the development of the rocket. Completion of the system definition review will verify the design concept and demonstrate mission objectives can be met."

Editor's note: (sigh) A lot of people are now spending a lot of time working on proposals that will all too soon be overcome by post-transition events.

Issue Connecting to the Exchange Server

Monday, January 5, 2009, 8:50 a.m. Central The NOMAD/ODIN team is investigating a slow email connectivity issue for some users. Webmail is available as an alternative at https://webmail.nasa.gov/ for those with slow connections through their desktop or laptop mail client. An update will be posted in 30 minutes.

Monday, January 5, 2009, 5:10 p.m. Central The email connectivity issue experienced by users with mailboxes hosted at JSC has been resolved. The NOMAD and Microsoft teams are continuing to investigate the issue to determine the root cause."

Ruben Van Mitchell, Jr.

Editor's note: This is from Dorinda White via a friend of Ruben's: "It is with great sadness that I must inform you of the passing of a wonderful loved one, friend and colleague, Ruben Van Mitchell, Jr. Ruben died peacefully in the early hours of December 31, 2008 after a long illness and complications following surgery. A memorial service will be held to celebrate his life on Saturday, January 10, 2008 at 1 pm at the Maranatha Gospel Hall, 4910 13th St. NW Washington, DC 20011. Please feel free to contact Dorinda White, his longtime companion at 202.491.3033. Correspondence can be sent to The Mitchell Family, c/o Dorinda White, 13809 Piscataway Drive, Fort Washington, MD 20744. Please join us as we celebrate the life of this wonderful man."

Shuttles Are Not Forever

Beyond the Shuttle, Government Executive

"As NASA makes another giant leap, the agency must shift its workforce to a new mission while safely finishing out the old one. ...The Constellation program will shift the focus of NASA's workforce, which has been largely on operating spacecraft, to a recurring cycle of development and operations. That cycle ranges from safely flying out the space shuttle manifest and completing assembly of the International Space Station to developing systems and preparing them for flight by 2015."

Obama may militarise NASA to save money, Register

"President-Elect Barack Obama may seek to save money and advance America's space presence by promoting closer cooperation between the US military space programme and NASA, according to reports."

Obama To Merge NASA, Pentagon To Help With Space Race, dbtechno

"It is believed that President-elect Barack Obama is considering a merger between the Pentagon and NASA to help with the space race to get us back to the moon and eventually to Mars."

Obama May Merge NASA, Pentagon Space Programs, Fox

"The move is being spurred by fear that China, which is making great strides in space, could challenge the U.S. for orbital dominance in the near future."

Editor's note: This is what happens when newspapers write articles based only on articles written by other news sources with a long holiday vacation stuck into the process - articles which themselves originally contained inaccurate information. No one is talking about "militarising" NASA or "merging" it with DoD.

For NASA Administrator, This Mission Is a Tad Personal, The Fed page, Washington Post

"Democrats, as would be expected, are lobbying intensely for senior jobs in the new administration. It's a bit more unusual to see top Bush administration officials lobbying to keep their jobs. But that appears to be the case with NASA Administrator Mike Griffin. ... But Griffin would be "honored" to be asked to stay on, Mould said. "A lot of people seem to like and support Mike and think he's doing a good job," he said. Hmmm. Somehow we're thinking that "a lot of people" does not include the president-elect's folks."

Keep Mike Petition
Griffin Beg-a-thon Update, earlier post
Vote To Keep Mike, earlier post
Making Sure The Workforce Gets The Message, earlier post
Mike Griffin Has A New Book Out for Christmas, earlier post

Griffin Beg-a-thon Update

NASA chief's wife to Obama: Don't fire my husband, AP (Via Washington post)

"Efforts by those close to Griffin lobbying on his behalf are unusually bold, even for ego-heavy Washington. Past efforts on behalf of job hopefuls have been more behind-the-scenes so plausible deniability can be maintained. "It sounds like the only thing left is to stencil Mike Griffin on the side of shuttle," joked Paul Light, a professor of public policy and a presidential transition expert at New York University. "I've never heard of a campaign to keep one's job that goes beyond the edge of private discussion. ... Maybe he should be texting next." David Goldston, a former chief of staff for the House Science Committee and a lecturer on science policy at Harvard University, said, "This kind of public campaigning to keep a job is unusual and usually tends to backfire in new administrations."

Editor's update: The comments on this AP article at Huffington Post are interesting.

Vote To Keep Mike, earlier post
Making Sure The Workforce Gets The Message, earlier post
Mike Griffin Has A New Book Out for Christmas, earlier post

Editor's 2 Jan 11:27 am EST note: Have a look at these two signatures/comments below from Scott Horowitz's heavily-edited petition to "Keep Mike". I'll be willing to bet that item 2326 will be deleted because it casts doubt on Mike Griffin - yet item 2313 is almost certainly going to be allowed to stand - even if the author's point of reference with Griffin was nearly 50 years ago.

Richardson withdraws as Commerce nominee

"New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, tapped in December by President-elect Barack Obama to serve as secretary of Commerce, has withdrawn his name for the position, citing a pending investigation into a company that has done business with his state."

Richardson move leaves hole in Obama cabin, Reuters

"Possible candidates for the job include Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sibelius -- who was suggested for a number of senior Obama administration posts but has yet to be nominated for any -- and Scott Harris, managing partner of the Washington DC law firm Harris, Wiltshire and Grannis who is an expert in trade issues."

Editor's note: Long known as a fan of commercial space, Richardson's withdrawal could be problematic for commercial space given that another name (among others) rumored to have been under consideration by Obama for a cabinet post was Rep. James Oberstar. In stark contrast to Richardson, Oberstar often deliberately worked against enabling legislation and regulation to facilitate space commercialization via the FAA. That said, odds are that Obama would pick a heavy hitter and known performer for Commerce given the sad state of the economy right now. And of course, space commerce is certainly not an issue involved in any part of the decision making process. Stay tuned.

Being PC at MOD

NASA Internal Memo: Happy Thanksgiving MOD

"... the obvious and publicized successes of a rapid fire Shuttle flight give us a good opportunity to stop and take inventory of our achievements. That does not diminish the huge effort required to keep ISS operations moving every day, and to make it look easy. Likewise, it does nothing to suggest the much larger plan/train/fly and facilities work MOD musters every day is less important than Shuttle flight. But like a holiday, reaching a milestone like the end of a joint Shuttle-ISS mission is a reminder to all of us to look up from our work and be proud of everything we've done for MOD and the cause, manned space flight*.

* Note: For those who prefer, feel free to substitute human, peopled, inhabited, crewed or progress even further to sentient or corporeal space flight. Try to resist the urge to send me an e-mail about it though."

COTS Wars?

NASA May Face Protest Over Recent Commercial-Cargo Contract, Wall Street Journal

"A NASA source selection panel ranked Orbital's overall proposal and its projected costs less favorably than bids submitted by the PlanetSpace team and a third bidder, Space Exploration Technologies Inc, according to one person familiar with the details.But William Gerstenmaier, the senior agency official who made the decision, opted to go against those rankings, according to people familiar with the details. Mr. Gerstenmaier, for example, disregarded the management strengths the selection board said stemmed from the participation of Boeing and Lockheed. Instead, NASA in theend cited PlanetSpace's "complete lack of experience as a prime contractor," according to documents provided to the bidders."

COTS Commercial Cargo Winners: Orbital and SpaceX

Obama Moves to Counter China in Space With Pentagon-NASA Link, Bloomberg

"President-elect Barack Obama will probably tear down long-standing barriers between the U.S.'s civilian and military space programs to speed up a mission to the moon amid the prospect of a new space race with China. Obama's transition team is considering a collaboration between the Defense Department and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration because military rockets may be cheaper and ready sooner than the space agency's planned launch vehicle, which isn't slated to fly until 2015, according to people who've discussed the idea with the Obama team."

Editor's note: There are several things getting mixed up in this story. EELVs are not the Pentagon's rockets. They were developed (partially) with DoD money so as to assure that the DoD had viable commercial launch options. But they have always been sold on a commercial basis (currently by Boeing/Lockheed Martin- ULA) for use by both DOD and non-DoD customers alike. NASA's New Horizons and MRO were launched on one (Atlas) as have been a number of commercial communications satellites on both Atlas V and Delta IV EELVs.

The Obama Administration may well be thinking of pairing up NASA and DoD to compete with China, but that is a different issue than using EELVs which you can buy today from the ULA catalog.

Editor's update: Looks like the Washington Examiner and ZDet fell for the Bloomberg story too as they rewrote their story around its inaccuracies.

Vote To Keep Mike

The Mike Griffin Fan Club, Freespace, Discovery News

"A more grass-roots effort was launched today by Scott Horowitz, a former space shuttle commander whose last job with NASA was as the associate administrator for the agency's new exploration initiative, which includes the development of the controversial shuttle-derived Ares rockets, along with Apollo-style capsules called Orion. Horowitz has started an internet-based "Keep Mike" petition drive. When I checked it a minute ago, eight people had signed up."

Keep Mike Griffin as the NASA Administrator Petition

"Petition sponsor Scott "Doc" Horowitz docsaerospace.com"

Editor's 24 Dec note: Contrary to the intent of this last ditch attempt to drum up support, it would seem that non-fans of Doc and Mike can also post snarky comments ...

Editor's update: When I first visited Doc's Keep Mike petition, there were a handful of comments that did not support Mike Griffin. I went back a few hours later and those comments were gone but several new anti-Griffin comments appeared. They too were later removed. Since Doc created the petition he must be the one removing all of these comments.

Editor's 24 Dec update: I just checked again a few hours later and all of the dissenting opinions have been removed again (by Doc). What a sad way to spend your Christmas holiday - checking on a website to purge anti-Mike commentary. To be certain, everyone is entitled to their opinion and many of the folks posting on the petition site (by name) are sterling individuals with reputations beyond reproach. But trying to pretend that there are no contrary views by simply removing them is pretty pathetic. If nothing else Doc, this selective editing action by you simply underscores the commonly held opinion that you and you successors at ESMD are utterly incapable of dealing with criticism or differences in opinion. We can only hope that the changes that lie ahead will correct this chronic defect.

That said, if you support Mike Griffin, by all means express your support. But do not confuse what you read on Doc's heavily censored website with reality - just as you should not make the same mistake about what you read on NASA Watch.

Editor's 24 Dec update: Perhaps the most bizarre part of this "Keep Mike" petition move is an email that is making its way around the NASA and Washington aerospace community. I have gotten this from 3 4 people thus far. Check the full text of this note from Mike Griffin's self-described "Number One Fan" i.e. his wife. Message below:

From: Rebecca Griffin [mailto:Rebecca.Griffin@.......]
Sent: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 9:54 PM
Subject: petition
Folks,
Yes, once again I am embarrassing my husband by reaching out to our friends and "imposing" upon them. Sigh, what's new? The number 1 fan is a role I have earned, because I know how hard my husband works, how honest he is, and what a positive difference he has made at NASA in just three and half short years. So, I couldn't think of an easier or better way to let you know about this true "grass roots" endeavor that was set up by former astronauts to encourage the incoming Obama administration to consider keeping Mike Griffin on as NASA Administrator. If you are not interested, please delete this email and accept my apologies for bothering you. If you are interested, just log in to the web site shown below. And, if this is inappropriate, I'm sorry.
Merry Christmas,
Becky

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/KeepMike/

Editor's 26 Dec update: There is now a Remove Mike Griffin As NASA Administrator Now petition - soon to be filled with fake names and "anonymous" signatures, no doubt.

Editor's note: Have a look at the "Open for Questions" feature at Change.gov. Searching for "NASA" produced 116 questions. "climate" resulted in 208 questions, and "space" resulted in 262 questions. Searching for "education" resulted in 2,375 questions, and "economy" resulted in 2,551 questions. Based on this unscientific sample, it would seem that education and the economy are ten times more important than NASA or climate change.

Of course, if people started to submit more questions regarding NASA - questions related to NASA's role in the economy and education, that would change. Right now, searching for "NASA education" only yelded 6 questions and "NASA economy" only yielded 5. This is a curious result given all of the energy NASA and its supporters put out regarding NASA's contributions to the economy and its role in inspiring the next generation. Then again, it seeming reflects the fact that at least among the people submitting questions thus far, they either do not get exposed to NASA PR and/or do not make the same connections between NASA, education, and the economy, that NASA supporters want them to. Now is as good a time as any for NASA supporters to make the effort to highlight those thematic connections.

Oh yes: searching for "NASA Griffin" only yielded 6 questions, 50% of which are not exactly Pro-Griffin. Contrast this with Doc Horowitz's heavily censored petition which is apparently scoured many times a day so as to remove any and all dissent, thus producing the appearance of a 99.99998% positive rating for Mike Griffin. Perhaps Rebecca Griffin should send out another email to Washington insiders and NASA employees in her Rolodex urging people to post pro-Mike Griffin questions at Change.gov so as to skew the search results in Mike's favor...

Climate change policies failing, Nasa scientist warns Obama, Guardian

"With less than three weeks to go until Obama's inauguration, Prof James Hansen, head of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, asked the recently appointed White House science adviser Prof John Holdren to pass the missive directly to the president-elect. .. The letter, from Hansen and his wife Anniek, is a personal plea to the first couple. It begins: "We write to you as fellow parents concerned about the Earth that will be inherited by our children, grandchildren, and those yet to be born ... Jim has advised governments previously through regular channels. But urgency now dictates a personal appeal."


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This page is an archive of recent entries written by Keith Cowing in January 2009.

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