Keith Cowing: July 2011 Archives

NASA: Extra money needed to launch JWST this decade, SpaceflightNow

"Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for science, called the Obama administration's flat budget for JWST a "road to nowhere." "You'll get to launch, but our grandchildren will have to use it," Weiler said."

Keith's note: It is not uncommon in situations such as this where a senior federal agency official publicy breaks with (and openly insults) Administration policy to announce that they are departing the agency to "spend more time with their family. etc." Stay tuned.

AIP Number 90: FY 2012 House Funding Bill: NASA

"There are 14 pages of text pertaining to NASA in the committee report accompanying the FY 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill that was passed by the House on July 13. In often great detail House appropriators spell out their recommendations for how the $16,810,257,000 provided to NASA should be spent in FY 2012. Selections from this language, which starts on page 68 of the committee report follow. All figures are taken from the committee report."

Transcript of President Obama's Call to the International Space Station (with video)

"President Obama: Well, this mission marks the final flight of the Space Shuttle Program and also ushers in an exciting new era, to push the frontiers of space exploration and human spaceflight. You guys will continue to operate, or crew members like you will continue to operate the ISS in coming years, and seek to use it to advance scientific research and technology development. I've tasked NASA with an ambitious new mission to develop the systems and space technologies that are going to be necessary to conduct exploration beyond Earth, and ultimately sending humans to Mars, which is obviously no small feat, but I know we're going to be up to the task."

Keith's note: On Friday President Obama will call the crews of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station from the Oval Office starting at 12:29 pm EDT.

Keith's update: During his call to the orbiting Space Shuttle Atlantis and International Space Station crews today, President Obama mentioned that a special American Flag had been carried to orbit on board Atlantis - a flag that had been carried aboard Columbia during STS-1. According to STS-135 Commander Chris Ferguson, this flag will be left on board the ISS until the next crew of Americans is launched from American soil aboard a commercial spacecraft. The President joked that this is going to become sort of a "capture the flag" game for the commercial spaceflight industry. Shortly thereafter SpaceX tweeted "SpaceX commencing flag capturing sequence..."

And thus the game begins.

Joint Shuttle/ISS Crew Press Conference

"The 10 crew members aboard space shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station will hold a news conference at 8:24 a.m. CDT on Friday, July 15. NASA Television will provide live coverage of the 40-minute news conference."

A Short Chat With Someone Offworld

"If there is one thing I'd say [to policymakers] it is that we need to focus our efforts. I'd appeal to Congress to focus on the long term. They need to look at the horizon - look out 10 years and see where they want the nation to be. We need a coherent space policy that will take us 10 to 15 years out - a decadal plan - and then make it a law so that we have to follow it so that Congress and future administrations are obliged to follow the policy that we, as a nation, have set forth."

Webb: Just Send Money

NASA: Extra money needed to launch JWST this decade, Sapceflightnow

"Rick Howard, NASA's JWST program director, said the agency determined the observatory could launch on a European Ariane 5 rocket as soon as October 2018, but it would require fresh funding. And with the federal government focused on wrangling in debt, a budget increase for the troubled JWST project is unlikely. NASA officials were speaking to the agency's astrophysics advisory council, a board of senior researchers chartered to provide advice and input in major scientific and programmatic decisions. "To get to [launch] in 2018, it's going to take a significant amount of new funds," Howard said."

NASA Notice of information collection: NASA's education and outreach activities

"NASA's education and outreach activities are funded by NASA's Office of Education, Mission Directorates, and Offices of Chief Technologist and Communications. NASA's Education Coordinating Council includes representatives from each of NASA's field Centers plus the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which deliver education and outreach. Data collection to be covered by this request are organized around three goals: (1) Contribute to the development of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) workforce in disciplines needed to achieve NASA's strategic goals, through a portfolio of investments; (2) attract and retain students in STEM disciplines through a progression of educational opportunities for students, teachers, and faculty; and (3) build between STEM formal and informal education providers strategic partnerships and linkages that promote STEM literacy and awareness of NASA's missions."

Failure Analysis of an EckAdams Office Chair from the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) Building,
NASA Engineering Directorate Materials Science Division Kennedy Space Center, Florida

"A 17 year old EckAdams model number 5353 chair was submitted for failure analysis when the cylinder of the chair failed during use. Both macroscopic and microscopic indications of fatigue were observed on the cylinder fracture surface, indicating that the cylinder progressively failed due to the bending stresses imparted on the cylinder during a reclining motion. The stress on the cylinder was likely exacerbated by failed welds that were observed between the chair back mounting plate and the base plate, which ...."

Keith's note: Yes, NASA KSC actually did a full-blown failure analysis of an old piece of office furniture that broke. That's right - an old office chair broke (surprise) and the rocket scientists descended upon it as if it were a Mishap Investigation Board - like the kind that you set up after a rocket blows up. Included in this analysis were detailed SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) and stereo microscopic imagery analysis. I would be willing to bet that the cost of this analysis certainly exceeded the cost of simply replacing the broken chair and that it vastly exceeded the actual value of the 17 year old chair itself. You hear people defending the way that NASA operates and then something like this shows up. You have to wonder if there is any common sense in the management manuals they use these days. I wonder if KSC PAO can dig up the actual cost of this CFA (Chair Failure Analysis).

Report: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2012

"The bill includes a provision that repeals existing prohibitions on the implementation of Reductions in Force or other involuntary separations."

Schiff Amendment to Provide FY 2012 Funding for James Webb Space Telescope Rejected

"The full House Appropriations Committee had been meeting for almost 3 1/2 hours yesterday when Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) rose to offer an amendment to provide $200 million for the James Webb Space Telescope in the FY 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill. A vote was pending on the House floor, and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) was ready to take a final vote to pass the bill. After brief comments by Schiff and Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) a voice vote was called, and the amendment was rejected. Schiff's amendment would have moved $200 million from NASA's Cross Agency Support budget, for which the bill allocated approximately $3 billion. This amendment was one of several that sought to transfer money from this budget category to other programs. All were rejected."

Photo: Shuttle Bread

Photo: Celebrating the Last Shuttle Launch with Food - NASA Style

According to someone@nasa.gov: "The LCS SE&I group celebrated the launch of STS-135 with homemade Italian bread and cold cuts!! Checkout this work of art!!"

Prox Ops at Vesta

Dawn Spacecraft to Enter Orbit Around Asteroid Vesta on July 15

"On July 15, NASA's Dawn spacecraft will begin a prolonged encounter with the asteroid Vesta, making the mission the first to enter orbit around a main-belt asteroid.
The main asteroid belt lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Dawn will study Vesta for one year, and observations will help scientists understand the earliest chapter of our solar system's history."

Video: World

NASA today debuts an inspirational video featuring the International Space Station and its crews set to the song "World" by recording artists Five for Fighting. The video features imagery of both the space station and the space shuttles that have served as the workhorses of space station construction and resupply. It uses selections from orbit as well as Earth-bound training and launch activities to communicate the importance of space exploration and its benefits for future generations. Intermixed are selections of video that show the beauty of planet Earth as seen from the space station and scenes of children inspired by space exploration. The lyrics emphasize that "history starts now" and invite listeners to ask the question, "What kind of world do you want?"

Senator Hutchison Calls for Immediate Action on Space Launch System

"No one questions the need to ensure the best understanding of program costs. We do that every year on an ongoing basis with every major NASA program, as we set spending levels in our annual budget. There is simply no need to defer announcing the vehicle design decision while awaiting yet another cost review. "To do so only increases the real human cost that NASA employees and contractors are experiencing in the face of continued uncertainty about the future. Without a decision we will continue to lose skilled workers that we need to build the shuttle replacements. Besides the toll this will take on workers and their families, who have contributed so much to science, our national security, and the economy, it will be difficult and more costly to replace this invaluable human capital. "We have the information to make a decision now, and I call on the Administration and OMB to immediately make public and approve NASA's technical design decision on the heavy lift vehicle."

NASA Selects Nonprofit to Manage Space Station National Lab Research

"NASA has selected the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space Inc. (CASIS) to develop and manage the U.S. portion of the International Space Station that will be operated as a national laboratory. At the conclusion of successful negotiations, the independent, nonprofit research management organization will help ensure the station's unique capabilities are available to the broadest possible cross-section of the U.S. scientific, technological and industrial communities."

Keith's note: NASA Assistant Associate Administrator for International Space Station Mark Uhran has been telling friends and co-workers that he will be leaving NASA on/by 1 October 2011. It will be interesting to see who replaces him. Betting odds are that it will be someone from JSC since they are not at all thrilled with this NGO concept to begin with - and carved significant portions of U.S. ISS research out from the purview of this new NGO. Moreover they need to make sure that KSC (or any other NASA center) does not exert undue influence.

Letter from Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in support for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, FL Lt . Governor Jennifer Carroll

"A team that includes such premier aerospace and scientific talents as: Boeing Company, Bionetics, Dynamac Corporation, and the other members of the CASIS proposal, represent the necessary skills and expertise to assure success. When backed by the unique approach and capabilities of Space Florida, and the unmatched history of commitment by the State of Florida to NASA achievement, I can confidently stand behind this proposal."

NASA Needs to Better Assess Contract Termination Liability Risks and Ensure Consistency in Its Practices

"We found that NASA's acquisition professionals generally do not monitor or track the potential termination liability costs of its contractors nor does the FAR require them to do so. The agency has not issued detailed instructions or provided guidance to direct contracting officers and others on how to monitor or track termination liability and to supplement the reliance on the relevant FAR provisions. As a result, resource analysts and financial managers inconsistently monitor and fund potential termination liability across the projects we reviewed."

Report: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2012

"The NASA budget structure has changed far too many times over the last several years. Regularly creating new accounts and shifting programs among accounts complicate efforts to make multiyear funding comparisons and obscure long-term funding trends. The bill adopts NASA's proposal to create a new account for Space Technology because this is the completion of a realignment that has been underway for some time. The Committee expects this to be the last such structural change for the foreseeable future."

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Hearing: A Review of NASA's Space Launch SystemHearing Charter

"The original intent of the hearing was to examine NASA's selection of a heavy-lift launch system ("Space Launch System") that will be used to launch future crew and cargo flights beyond low Earth orbit. Members would have had an opportunity to ask questions regarding cost, schedule, capabilities, and justification for the selected design. However, on July 7, a senior NASA official publicly stated that a final decision on SLS won't be announced until "late this summer." In light of NASA's continuing delays (the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 required a decision and report by mid-January 2011), the hearing will instead provide an opportunity for NASA to explain why it has failed to reach a decision, what analyses still need to be completed, and when the Space Launch System decisions will be forthcoming."

Keith's note: Rep. Hall opended the hearing by telling Bolden that not getting SLS documentation the committee had requested from NASA "is almost an insult to this committee and to Congress". Rep. Johnson said that Bolden can "expect to be on the receiving end of some frustration from members - including me."

Opening Statement: Rep. Ralph Hall Chairman Committee on Science, Space, and Technology A Review of NASA's Space Launch System

"As a preface to the formal portion of my statement, I want to first congratulate all the men and women at NASA and its contractors for the successful launch of STS-135. The Shuttle launch was viewed by tens of thousands on hand in Florida and millions more around the world, including a packed crowd in this hearing room, and it was a bittersweet moment to watch the last flight of the Shuttle Atlantis lift off from Kennedy Space Center."

Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) Hearing on "A Review of NASA's Space Launch System" Opening Statement

"Administrator Bolden, as you know, you have been called to testify on NASA's plans to develop the vehicles that will enable future human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit--vehicles that have been authorized and funded by Congress. However, as you also know--and will testify today--you still don't have an approved plan to share with us. As a result, I expect that you will be on the receiving end of a lot of unhappiness and irritation expressed by many Members here today. That's unfortunate, because the fault doesn't lie with you. It's my understanding that you have had a plan ready to announce for some time, but you haven't been able to get the final okay to make it public."

Science Democrats Urge Administration to Let NASA Get On With Developing The Nation's Future Human Space Exploration Vehicles

"Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing entitled, "A Review of NASA's Space Launch System." The purpose of the hearing was for the NASA Administrator to explain why the agency has failed to reach a decision on the architecture for the Space Launch System, what analyses still need to be completed, and when final acquisition decisions will be made."

Rocket decision still weeks away, NASA chief says, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden told Congress on Tuesday that it could be weeks -- or longer -- before the agency unveils the design for its next big rocket, a timeline that prompted lawmakers to threaten an investigation into the delay. "We have waited for answers that have not come. We have pleaded for answers that have not come," said U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, the Texas Republican who chairs the House science committee. "We have run out of patience."

Congress Grills NASA Chief Over Next Big Rocket Design, space.com

"NASA maintained at various times that a decision was coming in the spring, then in June, then in early July. NASA associate administrator Lori Garver said last week the agency hopes to make an announcement by late summer."

On NASA and Houston: Sheila Jackson Lee succeeds where I have failed, Houston Chronicle

"I have requested an interview with Charlie Bolden, NASA's administrator, at least half a dozen times since Feb. 2010, the last time I had the opportunity to speak with him. Fact is, Bolden is been all but inaccessible to the media since an initial around of interviews after President Obama released his plan for human spaceflight in early 2010. His predecessors frequently attended pre- and post-launch shuttle news conferences. Bolden rarely if ever does. It's weird. It's not like he's not in Florida for the launches. He is. Anyway, to her credit, Sheila Jackson Lee got a few Houston-related questions in during a House science committee hearing on NASA's Space Launch System. She takes a lot of grief for being too interested in getting in front of cameras, but in this case I'm glad she did."

NASA Invites Public To "Virtual Dinner" With Final Shuttle Crew

"The crew's All American menu begins with crackers, brie cheese and sausage."

Keith's note: Brie cheese? Wikipedia says: "Brie is a soft cow cheese named after Brie, the French region from which it originated (roughly corresponding to the modern dpartement of Seine-et-Marne)." Gee, that doesn't sound "all-American" to me. Duh - why not serve "American cheese"? Wikipedia says: "American cheese is used in American cuisine, for example on cheeseburgers, in grilled cheese sandwiches, and in macaroni and cheese".

Yes, it is a slow news day.

The Next Space Race, Newsweek

"To get a peek at how commercial space will prepare its people, I signed up for private astronaut training, a three-day NASTAR certificate course for suborbital researchers. Founded in 2006, NASTAR began as a showcase for its parent company, Environmental Tectonics Corp., a leading maker of flight simulators. In 2010 it won Federal Aviation Administration approval for private space training, the first company to do so. The course remains optional, but regulators may require it as part of a company's license. "We're basically leaving it up to the companies," says George Nield, associate administrator for the FAA's office of commercial space transportation."

Strapping On A Centrifuge: Suborbital Scientist Training, earlier post

American Astronomical Society Statement on the James Webb Space Telescope

"The proposal released on July 6 by the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies to terminate the James Webb Space Telescope would waste more taxpayer dollars than it saves while simultaneously undercutting the critical effort to utilize American engineering and ingenuity to expand human knowledge. Such a proposal threatens American leadership in the fields of astrophysics and advanced space technology while likely eliminating hundreds, if not thousands, of high-tech jobs. Additionally, this proposal comes before the completion of a revised construction plan and budget for a launch of JWST by 2018. The United States position as the leader in astronomy, space science, and spaceflight is directly threatened by this proposal."

Letter From Astronauts and Apollo Veterans Regarding Space Shuttle Retirement and Risk to ISS Operations

"To maintain this vital life safety margin for long-term ISS operations we are requesting the following: ... To avoid any gap in providing independent repair spacewalks as a safety contingency for the space station, Congress, NASA and the ISS partners should evaluate the option of postponing the launch of STS - 135 until more external fuel tanks and other parts can be built to support additional shuttle flights in 2012."

Final NASA shuttle mission clouded by rancor, Washington Post

"Garver and other administration officials are getting heat from some of the most famous astronauts on the planet, not to mention members of Congress and aerospace industry executives. Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, and someone never known to be a rabble-rouser, recently co-wrote with fellow Apollo astronauts Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan an op-ed in USA Today declaring that the space policy of the Obama administration is in "substantial disarray." The astronauts protested the decision to kill the Constellation program, the George W. Bush-era plan for a new lunar mission with new rockets and spacecraft."

After last shuttle flight, NASA will focus on 'deep space', CNN

"Last week, former astronaut John Glenn expressed his unhappiness with the end of the shuttle program. Glenn called it "ridiculous" and says he has objected to the cancellation since President George W. Bush made the announcement back in 2004. "I'm sorry to see things being cut back or diminished in any way, because I think the country needs research and innovation now more than ever before," Glenn said. "Owning and operating lower-orbit transportation is not in the best interest of the nation," Bolden said of the shuttle program."

Keith's note: The timing of this letter and editorial effort by these folks is odd to say the least. The authors wait until the last possible moment and then expect the White House, NASA, and Congress to suddenly do a 180 degree course change in policy - with all of the associated and unbudgeted costs - 6 to 7 years after that policy was announced and agreed to by all parties.

Atlantis: The Grand Finale Photo Special at Launch Pad 39A Part 2, Ken Kremer, SpaceRef

"It was both relentlessly breathtaking and surreal to find oneself at a historic crossroads - looking skywards from directly beneath the wings of the very last shuttle orbiter that will soon be orbiting Earth some two hundred miles overhead. NASA's Space Shuttle's are the most complex and magnificent machine built by humans, constructed with over two and a half million moving parts."

Mark Albrecht's White House memoir is educational--and entertaining, Weekly Standard

"The Economist magazine thinks the Space Age is probably over, and the discussion of our space future (or non-future) in its new issue is intelligent and informative. I've found over the years, though, that in many instances, the Economist's suave articulation of the not-so-cutting edge of conventional wisdom proves wrong. Mark Albrecht hopes that's so in this case, because he's a believer in space exploration, and his new book argues for U.S. leadership in that endeavor."

Letter from Sen. Warner to Charles Bolden Regarding Open Competition for SLS Propulsion

Letter from Sens. Murray and Chambliss to NASA Regarding Open Competition for SLS

"I am writing to encourage NASA to initiate a competitive bidding process for the propulsion component of the new Space Launch System (SLS). I believe the greatest challenge we face as a nation is the need to balance our spending priorities with principles of fiscal discipline. Rather than consider a non-competitive sole-source contract, NASA should undertake a competitive bidding process to ensure billions of taxpayer dollars are spent in the most cost-effective and responsible manner possible. Furthermore, increased competition will encourage new, innovative technologies that can lead to lower costs and higher value for Americans in the long run."

Keith's note: Some staffer needs to get the name of the agency, address, etc. correct next time. These letters are all the same and are addressed to "National Aeronautics and Space Agency" at "200 E Street, SW, Room 9F44".

Keith's 1 July update: According to NASA SMD: this is what SMD paid for the reception: "Planetary Program costs: $37.5K, which included the NASM facility rental, rental for chairs/stage/tables/etc, a/v, music, lighting and rigging, delivery, taxes." That's $37,500 that could have been spent on science. Instead, Ed Weiler spends it on a party.

Keith's 30 June update: According to the AAS: "AAS handled the reception, the costs of which were covered by the corporate sponsors. Over 250 people attended, and the cost per person for food was approximately $48." AAS did not handle rental for the facility, travel costs, media or any of the other things associated with this event. Rental of the floor space alone is in the range of $25,000 - even when discounted for NASA by NASM. NASA clearly wrote some large checks - and the money came from SMD - and that is money that was not available to be spent on actual EPO - or science. Yet last night at the reception SMD people were telling attendees (in response to my Twitter posts) that "no SMD money was used". I am waiting for SMD to tell me what the cost to NASA was. Stay tuned.

Earlier post below

Message from the Administrator: What's Next for NASA

"In just a couple of hours, I am delivering an address at the National Press Club to talk about NASA's future, and before I do so, I wanted to share with you what I'm going to be discussing. You can also watch the speech at 1:00 P.M. EDT on NASA TV or the Web, or if you are at Headquarters, in the James Webb Auditorium. ... Some say that our final shuttle mission will mark the end of America's 50 years of dominance in human spaceflight. As a former astronaut and the current NASA Administrator, I want to tell you that American leadership in space will continue for at least the next half-century because we have laid the foundation for success - and here at NASA failure is not an option."

Families of Challenger and Chairman of the Board of Challenger Center for Space Science Education Regarding the Future of Human Spaceflight

"We, the families of the Space Shuttle Challenger crew and founders of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education--heroes we lost to further the exploration of space--strongly support the continuation of human spaceflight under a new paradigm of commercially led efforts to low earth orbit, and government led efforts beyond.

We recognize that commercial development in human spaceflight is a new paradigm, but so was America's government-driven space program at its birth more than 50 years ago. Our nation and others have been quite successful in moving the aviation industry from a military and government led operation to a viable commercial industry; we believe a similar approach is now necessary in space.

We also recognize that the commercialization of space will bring new innovations, capabilities, public interest, and economies to the grandest of human endeavor. This will also allow NASA to focus on deep space exploration, as it should."


Loading

 



Monthly Archives

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by Keith Cowing in July 2011.

Keith Cowing: June 2011 is the previous archive.

Keith Cowing: August 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.