Keith Cowing: April 2010 Archives

Bolden Update Today

Administrator Bolden to Speak to NASA Workforce from Johnson Space Center

"Please join Administrator Charlie Bolden as he addresses the entire NASA workforce during a brief program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on Wednesday, April 28, at noon EDT. The administrator's remarks will be carried internally on NASA Television on Headquarters channel 76. The program also will be streamed internally over the Web to NASA Headquarters employees at:"

It's time to focus on America's future in space, editorial, Charles Bolden, Houston Chronicle

"To make this dream a reality, we must identify quicker and less costly ways to develop new launch systems. We must speed the acquisition process so it doesn't take a decade to make a new system operational. And we must work diligently with the commercial sector to help them succeed at providing safe, reliable, redundant access to low-Earth orbit while NASA develops futuristic capabilities to reach deep space. These changes will not be easy, but they are by no means impossible."

NASA LaRC Solicitation: Study of Deployable Secondary Structures for Expendable Volumes

"NASA LaRC is seeking an industry partner to study the integration, deployment and packaging of secondary structures within inflation deployed volumes. Secondary structures include any structure that is deployed during or after expansion of the primary volume, such as the floor and work surfaces, but which do not contain pressure loads. ... The ultimate goal of this research is to develop a system applicable to future habitation modules deployed on the lunar surface or in space."

NASA Ames Center Director Receives Arthur C. Clarke Award

"The director of NASA's Ames Research Center, S. Pete Worden, was recognized Tuesday by The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation for his leadership in space exploration. Worden has written or co-written more than 150 scientific technical papers in astrophysics, space sciences and strategic studies. He also served as a scientific co-investigator for two NASA space science missions. Before becoming Ames center director, he was a research professor of astronomy, optical sciences and planetary sciences at the University of Arizona. His primary research was on the development of large space optics for national security and scientific purposes, and near-Earth asteroids."

Astrobiology Update

NASA Announces Wednesday Media Teleconference About Search For Extraterrestrial Life

"NASA will hold a news media teleconference at 1:30 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, April 28, to discuss the status of agency-sponsored astrobiology research, including the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life and the study of how life began on Earth. Topics also will include the quest for evidence of life on Mars, the habitability of other celestial bodies, and future technology research."

Keith's note: I just love it when PAO waits until the last minute to announce something that it could have announced days in advance. And then they wonder why the media doesn't cover things such as this. "Avatar", an Astrobiology-themed movie, has earned more than $2 billion thus far. Clearly the public really digs Astrobiology. As such, NASA's shyness with regard to promoting its Astrobiology research is even more baffling.

Chamber on an Ares mission, Huntsville Times

"At a reception Sunday evening, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby - ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that determines funding for NASA - said he is doing everything he can to save Constellation, in which the government has already invested $9 billion to establish human presence on the moon and beyond. "If (Republicans) were in control of the Senate, I would tell you exactly what we'd be doing to save Constellation," Shelby said Sunday evening. "If Obama's plan goes through, I'm afraid it's a death march for NASA."

NASA plan: 'Cosmic bridge to nowhere', Huntsville Times

"Brian Hendricks is a staffer for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who also has substantial NASA interests in her state. Hendricks said Hutchison and Shelby have worked together to try to save Constellation and prevent other NASA changes, but thus far a fix hasn't been found. He expressed "profound anger" at Obama's decision, and he said the ability of the commercial world to achieve what NASA has achieved is "circumspect." "Spaceflight can't be a faith-based initiative," he said, adding that there is no support in Congress to abandon Constellation, which has "a lot of equity in it."

NASA Solicitation: Enabling Support Equipment and Services for International Space Station As A National Lab

"NASA seeks to increase the utilization of the ISS by other federal entities and the private sector. To facilitate and increase such utilization of the ISS, NASA is providing access to the ISS for the conduct of basic and applied research, technology development and industrial processing (collectively, R&D) to U.S. federal, state and local government entities, and to U.S. private entities (including, but not limited to, commercial firms, non-profit institutions, and academic institutions) as part of the national laboratory."

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

"The new NASA vision for the future is:

To improve life here,
To extend life to there,
To find life beyond

The NASA mission is:

To understand and protect our home planet
To explore the Universe and search for life
To inspire the next generation of explorers . . . as only NASA can"

Keith's note: Do these words still work? If so, could they be re-adopted by NASA? The NASA Advisory Council Education and Public Outreach Subcommittee had a spirited and supportive discussion on this today. What do you think?

NASA ESMD Managers Information Packet: A New Space Enterprise

"On Feb. 1, 2010, the President released the FY 2011 Budget Request. The budget proposes several exciting new programs that seek to foster a sustainable human space exploration enterprise. Although our philosophy and approach to exploration will change, our fundamental goal remains the same: to send human explorers into the solar system to stay. We invite you to read below about the study teams that have been formed to develop strategies for the proposed new programs. Plans will continue to evolve with the next step of House and Senate appropriations. In addition, the President's speech outlined the addition of an initial Orion build to be used as a crew rescue vehicle at ISS. We are working diligently now to incorporate this exciting news into our plans."

Machinists in Houston Rally to Save Space Program Jobs, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

"It's time to let Congress know that American astronauts deserve better than a heavily outsourced space program that relies on Russian, Japanese and even Chinese contractors to provide transportation to the International Space Station (ISS)," said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. "If NASA and the Obama administration have their way, American astronauts will be reduced to hitchhiking to the ISS." Speaker after speaker called on President Obama to reconsider his plans to terminate the Constellation program and commercialize the shuttle program. More than 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in Texas, Florida and other states are associated with the two programs."

Humans on Mars? Forget it, opinion, Simon Ramo, LA Times

"But is this a worthy goal? It appears increasingly doubtful that an astronaut could accomplish something useful on Mars not already being done by robots at far less cost and with little danger to humans."

Proceedings from the NASA Administrator's Symposium: "Risk and Exploration: Earth, Sea and the Stars", NASA Administrator's Symposium, September 26-29, 2004
Session Three: The Stars (PDF)

Pages 178-179 [Mars Exploration Rover PI Steve Squyres] "I'd like to finish this on a slightly lighter note by telling you a story. We had a lot of discussion yesterday about humans versus robots. And as the robot guy here, I want to tell a story about the experience that I had that really taught me a lot about that particular topic. We were at first trying to figure out how to use a set of rovers on Mars to really do scientific exploration. The technology folks at JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory] built a wonderful little vehicle called FIDO. And FIDO was a great test rover - you could take it out in the field and you didn't worry about getting a few scratches in the paint.

We took it out to a place called Silver Lake in the Mojave Desert about 1997. And we went out there and it was the first time I had ever been out in the field. So I went out there with my team - a bunch of really high-priced geologic talent - some serious field geologists. And we got the rover out there and, of course, the rover breaks down. First time I've ever been out in the field, it's dusty, it's dirty, you know, the rover's not working. So okay, what am I going to do with all these bored geologists I've got on my hands? So I said, "Look, let's go on a geology walk. Let's go on a little field trip." So everybody got their boots and their rock hammers and their hand lenses and everything. And I picked up a notebook and a stopwatch. And we walked out to a nearby ridge where I knew there was some interesting geology exposed and we sat down - or rather I sat down - and they went off and they started geologizing.

And I started timing them. You know, how long does it take for Andy Knoll to walk over to that rock? How long does it take Ray Arvidson to pick that thing up and break it open with his rock hammer and look at it with a hand lens? And they were doing a lot of things that our rovers couldn't do, but I focused on the things they were doing that our rovers could do. And, you know, I did it as quantitatively as I could - this was hardly a controlled experiment. And when I looked at the numbers afterwards, what I found was that what our magnifi cent robotic vehicles can do in an entire day on Mars, these guys could do in about 30 - 45 seconds.

We are very far away from being able to build robots - I'm not going to see it in my lifetime - that have anything like the capabilities that humans will have to explore, let alone to inspire. And when I hear people point to Spirit and Opportunity and say that these are examples of why we don't need to send humans to Mars, I get very upset. Because that's not even the right discussion to be having. We must send humans to Mars. We can't do it soon enough for me. You know, I'm a robot guy. I mean, I love Spirit and Opportunity - and I use a word like "love" very advisedly when talking about a hunk of metal.

But I love those machines. I miss them. I do. But they will never, ever have the capabilities that humans will have and I sure hope you send people soon."

Shuttle Mission Delays

Change in Experiment Will Delay Shuttle's End, NY Times

"A $1.5 billion seven-ton cosmic-ray experiment scheduled to be carried aloft July 29 on the space shuttle Endeavour won't be ready until August, according to the experiment's leader, Samuel Ting of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, delaying the end of the 29-year-old shuttle program. NASA officials acknowledged that there would be a delay but said they had not yet decided when the final launching would be. The experiment, known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, was to be installed on the International Space Station as one last scientific errand before the final shuttle launching, of the Discovery, now scheduled for Sept. 16."

SpaceX's Elon Musk, Sen. Richard Shelby spar over Obama space policy, Huntsville Times

"The CEO of a company seeking to carry American astronauts into space says U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, is fighting a new national space plan that would bring billions into North Alabama. "I just don't understand what his beef is," Elon Musk, CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Inc. (SpaceX) said in a telephone interview Friday night. "I don't really understand why Sen. Shelby is so opposed to commercial crew," Musk said, "given that Atlas and Delta are right there in Alabama, because no one's going to be a bigger winner in commercial crew than United Launch Alliance." Musk referred to the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture that builds Delta and Atlas rockets in Decatur for NASA, the military and commercial satellite customers. ULA and SpaceX are among the commercial companies wanting NASA contracts to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station if President Obama's space program is approved by Congress. "For ULA it's a certainty," Musk said of winning contracts. "For SpaceX it's much more a question mark."

- Shelby Goes Personal on Bolden
- Shelby: Obama Plan Would Destroy U.S. Space Supremacy
- Shelby: Gov't Spending is Bad - Except for Spending on NASA, earlier post
- Shelby Was For The Private Sector Before He Was Against It, earlier post
- Alabama Political Donations Go National, earlier post

New NASA Logo Designs

Space, the designer's frontier, Boston Globe

"Ideas asked four graphic designers to come up with a new emblem for the 21st-century space agency, to conjure a vision of NASA that fits the present."

Keith's note: I still like my "wormball" logo concept.

Keith's note: The following was circulated by NASA Orion Management recently: "Today, a contracts letter was sent to Lockheed Martin relative to termination liability (TL). This letter, directed through NASA Headquarters, interprets the contract language to require the contractor to account for termination liability in its planning for each year of execution. Termination liability is the estimated value of contractor work required to close out the contract if terminated. This is not a notification of termination, but an interpretation of how the contractor should account for TL projections in the current year. The effect of the interpretation may have implications in how we execute the project. However, there are options available within NASA and Lockheed Martin that will be considered in the coming days to assure that we operate within the law while we attempt to execute the program. It is important that everyone keep in mind the President, the Congress, and the NASA Administrator have all publicly expressed their clear expectation that an Orion vehicle will continue to play a central role in the overall emerging space exploration policy and strategy. We are working closely with Lockheed Martin and NASA management to identify acceptable resolutions to this issue that have the least disruption to our integrated government/industry team and our collective ability to perform our mission."

NASA program: Ares I backers work to save rocket despite White House wishes, Orlando Sentinel

"The day after President Obama visited Kennedy Space Center last week to unveil his new vision for NASA, the manager of the moon program that Obama wants to kill told his team to draw up plans in case Obama fails to win congressional support. In an e-mail sent April 16, NASA's Constellation program manager, Jeff Hanley, instructed his managers to "prioritize" all the resources they have at their disposal under this year's budget to plan for test flights of prototypes of the troubled Ares I rocket that Obama aims to cancel. Hanley also orders them to look at ways to shrink the Constellation program in such a way that it can fit in a tighter rocket-development budget backed by the White House. The move comes as some members of Congress have pledged to stop Obama and save Ares. "This direction," Hanley wrote in the e-mail, "remains consistent with ... policy to continue program execution and planning in the event that the program or parts thereof will continue beyond [this financial] year."

Rogue NASA manager isn't ready to buy into Obama's vision for space, DIVCE

"President Obama has made it pretty clear that he wants NASA to go in a new direction, relying more heavily on the private sector while developing next-gen tech that would take us beyond the original target of the moon to Mars. Jeff Hanley, program manager of the targeted Constellation project, is still holding out hope that congress will be able to block the move, particularly in regard to the order to scrap the Ares rockets."

Letter from IFPTE to Senators Mikulski and Shelby Regarding NASA's Proposed FY 2011 Budget

"The greatest strength of the President's budget is that it is honest and forward-looking; in February, President Obama asked NASA to deliver $19 billion worth of work for $19 billion in funding and invested the necessary attention back into long-term R&T so that America can someday lead a crewed mission into deep space. To those in Congress who argue passionately and cogently that NASA should do more and move faster, we say "show me the money". IFPTE would support an increase in NASA's workload as long as it is linked to an appropriate increase in funding. Never again should NASA be asked to deliver $22 billion worth of work for $19 billion in funds as this is a formula for failure."

Hubble Space Telescope Celebrates 20 Years of Discovery

"As the Hubble Space Telescope achieves the major milestone of two decades on orbit, NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute, or STScI, in Baltimore are celebrating Hubble's journey of exploration with a stunning new picture and several online educational activities. There are also opportunities for people to explore galaxies as armchair scientists and send personal greetings to Hubble for posterity."

Lockheed Martin-Built Hubble Space Telescope Marks 20 Years of Astronomical Discovery

"NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST), built and integrated at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facility in Sunnyvale, was launched 20 years ago aboard Space Shuttle Discovery, on April 24, 1990, ushering in a new golden age of astronomy. HST was released by the crew into Earth orbit the next day and the universe hasn't looked the same since."

Former Secretary of Transportation Mineta Praises Obama's NASA Plan For Jump-Starting Commercial Spaceflight

"Norman Mineta, who served as Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush and as Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton, and who represented Silicon Valley in Congress for more than 20 years, has published an op-ed stating, "With Russia, China and India close on our heels, the only way we can maintain our hard-won leadership in space transportation is by employing America's unique entrepreneurial strength. Obama's new plan for NASA does exactly that."

Obama should rethink NASA's space program, editorial, Washington Post

"... with the cancellation of Ares I, the administration wants to rely on private companies to develop vehicles to get passengers to low-Earth orbit. These "space taxis" would stretch current capabilities, but the private sector could play an important, and potentially cost-effective, role. It is odd for those who accuse this administration of wanting to take over the private sector to blast this initiative."

Shuttle backers say space station needs safety net

"[Senator] Hutchison's scenario "says you have to protect against something that's extremely unlikely," said John Logsdon, a space historian and former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. "I think it is trying to make an argument in support of a relatively parochial position of keeping the shuttle flying." Retirement of the shuttle fleet would have no impact on crew safety, said former shuttle astronaut John Grunsfeld. "We don't rely on the shuttle as a rescue vehicle in the event of a problem on space station -- that's exactly why we have Soyuz that are docked up there all the time," he said."

NASA: ATK has to shrink to remain competitive, Salt Lake Tribune

"Unfortunately the solid rocket industry has been overcapitalized for many, many years," Bolden told an appropriations subcommittee as part of his push for President Barack Obama's new direction for NASA. "We are carrying 70 percent of an industry for a capability that no one uses but NASA." And NASA isn't sure to what extent it wants to use it any more either. ATK's solid rocket motors have launched the shuttle into orbit for decades and the company has been constructing the Ares rocket as its replacement. But President Barack Obama wants to drop Ares and the overall Constellation program. In its place, Obama would pay for flights on as-yet-unbuilt private space vehicles to reach low-earth orbit, while NASA would focus on creating a completely new deep-space vehicle starting in 2015."

Congress 1; Bolden 0

Obama plan to end much of Constellation program angers Republican senators, Washington Post

"In scrapping large parts of the Constellation program, however, Obama has outraged lawmakers from Gulf Coast states and Utah, where contracts and jobs may be lost. In a meeting Thursday of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA, Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) accused Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. and NASA on Thursday of ceding space exploration to the "Russians, the Chinese and even the Indians," and he accused the administration of setting up a "welfare program for commercial space industry."

Lawmakers Question NASA's Plan for Private Rockets, Wall Street Journal

"But it's the panel headed by Sen. Mikulski, who has been wooed by the White House in recent weeks, that could play the leading role in shaping NASA's future. Unbtil Thursday, Sen. Mikulski hadn't expressed her views publicly. At this point, however, many veteran lawmakers predict Congress will adopt a continuing resolution for the agency, which wouldn't resolve the controversial issues this year."

Key Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski reluctant to endorse Obama's NASA plan, Orlando Sentinel

"Right now I feel like a deep-space probe; I'm in reconnaissance," said Mikulski, after a Thursday hearing of the commerce, justice and science appropriations subcommittee. A key issue, she said, was whether commercial companies would be held to the same safety standards as NASA. "We're not sending cases of Tang into space. We're sending our astronauts and the astronauts from other countries that they provide to us," she said. "

NASA has escape plan for space station astronauts, LA Times

"The president's plan has drawn criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers in states with NASA operations. Last week, Obama announced that part of the Constellation program, the Orion capsule, was being revived to provide astronauts an emergency escape from the station and reduce U.S. reliance on Russian Soyuz vehicles when the space shuttle program ends this year."

NASA ARC Solicitation: Rodent Habitat Systems for Manned Space Flight Opportunities

"NASA is investigating the availability and feasibility of options for expanding its capability to provide in-space habitation systems for rodents (rats & mice) for scientific research on the International Space Station (ISS). NASA seeks the following information about any existing concepts/designs or hardware for rodent habitat systems for spaceflight: ... Vehicle accommodations - Describe any space transportation and in-space interface capabilities of the design or hardware. (i.e. Shuttle Middeck, ATV, HTV, ISS EXPRESS, DRAGON, etc.)"

Will private spaceships have the right stuff? Commercial orbital taxis won't have to retrace NASA's footsteps, MSNBC

"First of all, the space taxis being created to serve the new policy are being designed for an entirely different mission. Unlike America's previous spaceships, these new taxis will be focused only on delivering passengers from Earth's surface to an existing space facility and back again. There's no need for long periods of independent orbital cruising. There's no need for carrying equipment to be later used for moon flights. The plan to reshape the Orion spaceship as a standby rescue vehicle for station crews has profound implications for the requirements of the commercial taxi and its cost. This strategy means the taxis won't have to last for six months "parked" in space, like Russia's Soyuz spaceships. The simplification of the taxi's mission will allow its hardware to be significantly less expensive to build and to validate."

Faux News Part Deux

Mikulski: U.S. cannot afford new NASA 'every four years', The Hill

"As the White House seeks to cancel most of NASA's manned-space flight program, provoking congressional outrage, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said during an appropriations hearing more investigation and research was needed before she could decide whether that was the correct course of action."

Keith's note: Huh? "As the White House seeks to cancel most of NASA's manned-space flight program"? Where did this reporter get that scoop? George Bush cancelled the Shuttle back in 2004, not Barack Obama. The ISS is getting increased funding and billions are being poured in to support commercial crew access to space.

Senate leaders make move for more NASA money, Houston Chronicle

"Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. unveiled the Democrats' version, a resolution that would increase NASA's current $18.7 billion budget by 5.3 percent to provide uninterrupted testing of the Ares I-X rocket motor. The committee must debate and vote on the proposal before it goes to the Senate floor."

Nelson pushes Ares I tests, Florida Today

"Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Or- lando, requested the funding to continue testing of the solid-rocket motor based on the Ares I rocket, which is cancelled under the White House's latest budget proposal. Nelson said additional testing will be helpful in the development of a much more powerful rocket needed to launch astronauts on missions beyond Earth-orbit. Solid rocket motor development also remains important to the Defense Department's space and missile programs."

Nelson aims to save Ares I testing, Orlando Sentinel

"Instead of the Ares I, Obama wants to use commercial rockets to resupply the space station with crew and cargo. That way, NASA engineers could concentrate their efforts on designing futuristic new technologies that could one day take astronauts to nearby asteroids or Mars. But in an afternoon budget hearing, Nelson argued that NASA still needs the Ares I so that it could test technologies needed to eventually build bigger rockets that could launch the heavier spacecraft needed for missions beyond low-Earth orbit and the space station."

Obama's NASA Blueprint Is Challenged in Congress, NY Times

"But in response to a question from Mr. Shelby about the safety of the different rocket options, General Bolden said, "My gut tells me that Ares would be safer than anything else."

GOP senator warns NASA budget cuts will help China overtake U.S. in space, The Hill

"Shelby then took aim at NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, whose approach Shelby said "only ensures members cannot trust you." He added that Bolden was "creating an atmosphere in which you and your leadership are becoming a major impediment for moving forward." "No matter how many ... press releases and summits you conduct, hope is not a strategy," continued Shelby, whose state houses a key NASA base. "This budget is not a proposal for space exploration worthy of this great nation."

- Shelby: Gov't Spending is Bad - Except for Spending on NASA, earlier post
- Shelby Was For The Private Sector Before He Was Against It, earlier post
- Alabama Political Donations Go National, earlier post

House Appropriations: Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Planetary Society Teleconference

"Today, board members of the Planetary Society will be joined by former NASA astronauts and other space community leaders on a teleconference for the media. This expert panel will provide comments and take questions on President Obama's recent speech at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on April 15, as well as discuss the results of today's hearing chaired by U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski."

Sense of the Senate

Keith's note: What's the sense of the Senate with regard to the President's space policy? Well, according to Jeff Bingham, minority staffer on the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee's Subcommittee on Science and Space posting on as "Mascot 51D": "In addition, of course, the authorizers--often referred to as "policy and oversight committees" have the power to direct NASA policies and programs, and can point NASA in directions different than those recommended by the President, if they can pass their bills doing so and over-ride any presidential veto. This year, the exercise of that power will be especially interesting to watch, as there is still a considerable difference between many Members of Congress' views on the proposed NASA budget and the new direction proposed by the President."

20 Years Later: Hubble, Humans and the Future of Space Flight, The Atlantic

[Story Musgrave] "[The Space Station] does nothing for nobody and it never has," he says. "The cost of space station is 300 Voyager-class satellites. We could have had multiple Voyagers landed or floating in the atmosphere on every planet and on every moon of every planet. That is what we gave up when we went with a jobs program, which is what the space station is. And that's an ungodly sin. And yes, I'm a human space flight person, but listen to me. That's what we could have offered the public."

Keith's note: Oh well. So much for the notion that a whole bunch of college degrees and lots of trips into outer space automatically makes you enlightened.

Obama's NASA policy: The White House vs. Neil Armstrong, USA Today

"It's not easy to go up against a living legend, but that's what President Obama will be doing Thursday when he gives a speech on new NASA policies that are being blasted by Neil Armstrong."

Star Wars: Neil Armstrong, Obama Spar Over NASA's Future, Fox

"The first man to walk on the moon has blasted off at the Obama administration's stripped-down space plans, describing the president's proposals as "devastating." But supporters of the president's latest plan, which will be unveiled on Thursday, insist all systems are go for an accelerated rocket program that sets new goals for the American effort in outer space."

Florida State Senate Moves Rapidly to Pass Jobs Bill

"Floridians have kept our nation on the cutting edge of space exploration and development, and the loss of any Florida space jobs will create overwhelming challenges for the Space Coast and our state's entire economy," Governor Crist said. "I applaud Senators Gaetz, Haridopolos and Altman, as well as Representatives Steve Crisafulli and Ritch Workman, for their commitment to preserving and retaining our leadership in the global space arena."

Brevard group takes space-industry fight to D.C., Florida Today

"With a heightened sense of urgency in the face of thousands of pending job losses in Brevard County, Cocoa Beach Chamber of Commerce officials are working to gather a group of citizens for a trip to Washington D.C., to plead with lawmakers to support the space industry before it evaporates."

Keith's note: Only a week and a half remain before the much-anticipated Space Summit at NASA KSC on 15 April. While no public mention has been made as to venue, agenda, participants, audience etc., there does seem to be a general consensus forming behind the scenes as to what sort of rethinking might be acceptable to all parties with regard to where NASA human spaceflight is going.

Small Glimmer of Hope for NASA in Houston, myFox

"Many will admit NASA has done a poor job proving its value to the American public. Some are asking what has the agency done to deserve nearly $20 billion in funding every year? "From the medical devices, fetal monitors for babies, to Lasik surgeries, MRI's, cell phones, the gps," says Mitchell."

Houston, we have a real problem, Opinion by Ed Perlmutter and Pete Olson, Denver Post

"The economic, scientific and technological returns far exceeded our investment. Observations from space have provided GPS, meteorological forecasts, predictions and management of hurricanes and other natural disasters, as well as surveillance and intelligence. Royalties on NASA patents and licenses go directly to the U.S. Treasury. NASA has been a solid investment because it does so much with so little."

Keith's note: I have to guess that the royalties paid on NASA patents are miniscule in comparison to what taxpayers have spent on NASA. Indeed, I suspect that if you were to put this to people who invest in new technologies in the private sector, that they'd tell you that NASA is a rather inefficient way to drive things from R&D to market. As for the NASA spinoffs that people often cite, no one ever runs a sanity check - GPS was "invented" and developed by DoD. As for "fetal monitors for babies, to Lasik surgeries, MRI's, cell phones" NASA was a bit player - at best - in pushing technologies that contributed to - but certainly did not create these and many other things. One would think that NASA would attempt to clarify such things when they appear in the news. There is some progress however: at least we don't hear about NASA inventing Teflon, Velcro, and Tang any more.

Previous NASA spinoff stories.

NASA'S Shuttle Discovery Heads to Station After Predawn Launch

"Space shuttle Discovery lit up Florida's Space Coast sky about 45 minutes before sunrise Monday with a 6:21 a.m. EDT launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The launch began a 13-day flight to the International Space Station and the second of five shuttle missions planned for 2010. Discovery is scheduled to dock to the space station at 3:44 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7."

Keith's note: Lori Garver is now on Twitter at lori_garver and has a fan page on Facebook.

Keith's note: This video shows Neil deGrasse Tyson speaking at the University at Buffalo making an impassioned plea for NASA and the value it has to all Americans. In my experience, no one has ever managed to capture this in such a cogent response. Tyson is the sort of people who should be speaking at the OSTP space summit. But no. Politics preside. Instead, its OSTP Vs NSC and OSTP/NSC Vs NASA and a food fight over who gets to say what NASA needs to do at the Summit. What a colossal missed opportunity.

Obama's Space Summit Coming Amid Discovery's Mission, 13 News

"Even if the shuttle program were extended today, there would still be some a gap. "The real issue we would have is just in manufacturing," [space shuttle program manager John] Shannon explained. "While you have a supply chain, while you can get a workforce back to build things like external tanks, there would be some type of a gap -- and right now, we estimate that gap would be about two years, from when we're told to when we would have the first external fuel tank rolling off the assembly line."

If shuttles kept flying, what would mission be?, Orlando Sentinel

"In response, NASA has reached out to shuttle suppliers and vendors to check whether there would be any issues, beyond the cost of restarting production lines, should NASA keep flying the orbiter fleet. The agency is also examining whether there will be enough spares on the station to continue operations until 2020."

Without Shuttles, Astronauts' Careers May Stall, NPR

"NASA administrator and former astronaut Charlie Bolden talked about that prospect when he visited Kennedy Space Center in Florida earlier this year, saying it would be a different approach for NASA to rent not just the space vehicle, but also a private crew of astronauts to go with it. "We need to have the discussion of how important is it to have a career astronaut contingent, as opposed to none," Bolden said. He said that NASA's international partners like the idea of an elite corps, and that he doubted some random person could quickly be trained to perform at the same level as NASA astronauts, who have devoted their lives to preparing for work in space. "We need to have the discussion of what the future -- the next generation of astronauts -- will be like," Bolden said."

NASA Lost its Way, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"Although the purpose of the VSE was clear to the White House and the Congress, it became increasingly clear over time that NASA was having difficulty understanding the mission. They eventually embarked on a multi-year study to define exactly why they had been tasked to go to the Moon and to understand what they might do once they got there. The mission to understand their mission involved lots of meetings, workshops and conferences, whereby all the "stakeholders" had an opportunity to give their input. All this "input" was distilled into a series of documents containing six themes and 181 different specific objectives. No one at NASA could state the mission of the VSE in a single sentence."

Mike Griffin Update

Goodnight Moon: Michael Griffin on the future of NASA, Ars Technica

"... is there a value for a government-led human space flight program? See, what's being missed here is that NASA is being taken out of the business of conducting human space flight, and I think that's wrong. Those are the larger issues, and we are being diverted by the details of this vehicle or that vehicle, and I would say that the diversion is not productive. We need to focus on the larger issues: should NASA... should the US government be leading the human space flight program or not, and what are the goals? I am unsatisfied with the President's answers to those questions."

Keith's note: Mike Griffin will be speaking at an AIAA meeting on 5 April at the University of Alabama, Tuscalosa. 1:00 pm in Hardway room 252.

History for Sale

The Manual Pages That Saved Apollo 13, Gizmodo

"On April 13, 1970--321,860 kilometers into its Moon trip--an oxygen tank exploded in the Odyssey's Service Module. James Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise had a really big problem. These pages saved their lives. The pages--with notes from Lovell--will be up for auction April 13 at Bonhams in New York."

Letter from Rep. Posey to President Obama Regarding The Space Summit

"I understand you will visit Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2010, presumably to provide details on your vision and plan for America's human space flight program. My office has not yet received an invitation, agenda, or any other preliminary information on this event. I write to inform you that I would very much appreciate the opportunity to participate in the event with you."

Keith's note: Lets see, things are already rather raw down in Florida as a result of the proposed FY 2011 NASA budget. So ... what does OSTP do? Why, they just make things worse by continuing to ignore the very people most affected by the new space policy.

But the fact that Rep. Posey is being kept in the dark should not be at all surprising. You see, no one knows exactly what this Space Summit/Conference is or is not going to be. There is currently a three-way tug of war between OSTP, NSC, and NASA over topics, content, agenda, expected outcome, attendees, and participants. With 2 weeks to go, and the course of NASA's future direction at stake, to say nothing of thousands of jobs, one would hope that all of the actors in this drama start to quickly figure out what is going to be happening.

Buzz is Now an App

Buzz Aldrin App Now Available for the iPhone

"The APP Company announced the release of the Buzz Aldrin Portal To Science and Space Exploration iPhone App. Available for $1.99 on the Apple iTunes and App Stores, this iPhone app launched by the pioneering Apollo astronaut and moonwalker Buzz Aldrin takes the user on a journey through the world of everything that is Space Exploration."

Gov. Paterson launches NASA call in attempt to help New York's quest to land space shuttle, NY Daily News

"Paterson phoned NASA Administrator William Holden this week to plug the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum's bid to win one of the soon-to-be-retired shuttles - Discovery, Atlantis or Endeavour."

Keith's note: "NASA Administrator William Holden"? Oh well, its April Fool's day.

Obama's plan to transform NASA in spotlight as Florida trip looms, Orlando Sentinel

"Lawmakers are threatening to file a congressional resolution in favor of Constellation, and several senators --- including George LeMieux, R-Fla. -- filed a bill last week aimed at preventing Obama from shutting down the program. While congressional critics have issues with the entire plan, it's the $429 million requested for KSC in 2011 that appears to be especially vulnerable. Members of Congress privately complain that nobody at NASA or in the White House has been able to explain to them exactly what the money will be used for. KSC Director Bob Cabana has said repeatedly that Kennedy is a 1960s facility badly in need of modernization. But he has also said that NASA is still studying what a 21st-century launch center should look like and how to coordinate changes with the Air Force, which now runs commercial launches at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station outside the gates of KSC. That, he said, takes time. Lawmakers are unimpressed, with some claiming that the funds are nothing but a political payoff to Florida in an election year. They have been telling members of the aerospace industry in Florida not to hold out hopes for the money."

Posey's Fight To Save Space Jobs Continues,

"Posey points back to when Obama was a presidential candidate and the promise he made during a campaign speech in Titusville in the fall of 2008. "You said you would close the gap between the space shuttle and Constellation," Posey said. "And you would assure America would stay first in space. Right now he's doing neither, and I'm hoping that's going to change soon." Posey said he will be at the April 15 summit whether he's invited or not. "We have not received any notice at all from the president about the meeting," Posey said. "We've written him. We've asked to be invited."

Keith's 31 March update: Someone sent another fraudulent email under my name to my Congressman, Rep. Moran (apparently and incorrectly) expressing my supposed disagreement with the new space policy. One NASA Watch reader noted today that

"[Rep.] Anna Eshoo has been getting about 1 email per week "from me" and when I got them to send me the text of the email, I Googled it and found it to be from Go Boldly, but it was from a Facebook page attributed to them."

Sending emails out under someone else's name without their permission is actionable fraud, plain and simple. What goes around comes around, folks. These tactics are bound to backfire. It certainly looks like the JSC pro-Constellation/Anti-Obama Space policy Go Boldy folks have a broken system in place. They need to fix this ASAP.

The domain for this organization is registered to Gary McNeel. According to this video and a phone call to me, Nick Gardner is one of the leaders of this effort.

I *DO NOT* like people sending emails using my name - and I will respond accordingly.

Earlier posts and text of the emails I have gotten are below.



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This page is an archive of recent entries written by Keith Cowing in April 2010.

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