Keith Cowing: September 2010 Archives

Message from the Administrator: NASA Diversity and Inclusion Assessment Survey

"To assess the current state of diversity and inclusion throughout the agency, as well as at your center, NASA has contracted with Westat, a research organization in Rockville, Md., to develop and administer a Diversity and Inclusion Assessment Survey for civil service staff as part of the NASA Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Framework. NASA will use the survey results to establish a diversity and inclusion snapshot, identify our strengths and challenges, and design future activities for the continuing enhancement of diversity and inclusion efforts at the agency."

NASA GSFC Center Director Memo: Diversity and Inclusion Assessment Survey

"Although, there have been many surveys over the years, this is the first survey to specifically address diversity and inclusion."

Reader note: "While I think this survey is a complete waste of time and tax dollars, I note that once again HQ is excluding all on-site contractors from a NASA-wide survey. Please explain to me, Mr. Bolden, how any survey can possibly "establish a diversity and inclusion snapshot" of NASA when right off the bat you are excluding the views of 70% of the NASA workforce."

Friday, September 17, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24) will host a meeting of local community leaders to discuss efforts to ensure that small businesses and start-up companies have accesses to federal economic development funding for the Space Coast provided through the Presidential Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development. Kosmas will be joined by officials from Space Florida, the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast, and community bankers.

House Vs. Senate Over NASA

'Crunch time' for NASA budget as supporters of Senate, House version jockey for position

"Instead, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, confirms there has been pressure for the House to simply adopt the Senate plan. "There is behind-the-scenes lobbying by special interest groups to force a vote on the Senate NASA authorization bill in the House, with no chance to offer or vote on amendments," Aderholt said Wednesday in a statement. "While I appreciate some aspects of the Senate authorization bill, the House of Representatives deserves a vote on its own committee bill, and I hope Democrat House leadership schedules that soon."

WTO critical of NASA payments to Boeing: report, MarketWatch

"A ruling by the World Trade Organization over whether Boeing received unfair government support centers on payments made to the company by the Department of Defense and NASA. The WTO has ruled that the payments are subsidies and that they've led to an unfair competitive advantage for Boeing,... .The European Union is claiming Boeing received some $24 billion in tax breaks, research help and expert rebates from the federal and state level in the U.S., giving it an advantage over European aerospace rival Airbus, whose parent company is EADS"

Keith's note: I think it is rather funny that the EU would complain about such things given their own overt practices when it comes to government subsidies, preferences, etc.

Thursday's Desert RATS Events

Keith's note: NASA Edge and Challenger Center will host one last live webcast from Desert RATS on Thursday from 9:00 am PDT (12:00 PM EDT) until 11:00 am PDT (2:00 pm EDT) at You can follow us at You can also follow on Twitter.

Boeing Plans Capsule to Fly Space Tourists, CBS

"Space Adventures, the company that brokered eight private flights to the International Space Station aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft, will work with Boeing Corp. to launch wealthy space tourists and other non-NASA fliers aboard a capsule under development by the U.S. aerospace giant, officials announced Wednesday. The Boeing CST-100 capsule, being designed to launch atop Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rockets, Boeing's Delta 4 or the SpaceX Falcon 9, is intended to carry NASA and European Space Agency astronauts to and from the International Space Station under a NASA initiative to encourage development of private-sector spacecraft."

Sy Syvertson

NASA statement on the passing of Clarence Sy Syvertson

"It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Clarence A. "Sy" Syvertson, a former Director of the NASA Ames Research Center from 1977 to 1984. He died the evening of Sept. 13, 2010 at the age of 84."

Keith's note: A memorial service will be held on Sunday afternoon in Saratoga.In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to either Challenger Center or Space Camp.

The panel is being held in the Rayburn Building 2325, from 1:00 - 4:00 pm - Thursday, September 16th. It is being sponsored by AIAA and ASGSB. Several experts from various earth-based application fields will discuss how space exploration helps the United States' biological economy, and what the advances in telemedicine and life and biological sciences gained from the space program mean to our nation's long-term economic and physical health. The panel is open to the public.

HEFT Report Update

NASA Team's Space Exploration Proposal Aligns with Senate Bill,

In outlining a human asteroid mission that would launch several years past Obama's 2025 deadline, the HEFT recommended NASA begin work immediately on a space shuttle-derived heavy-lift rocket, skipping the five years of exploratory research Obama proposed. A set of the HEFT's charts, dated Sept. 2, were posted on the NASA Watch website. "There is no benefit to delaying work" on the heavy-lifter, the charts say, adding that waiting until 2015 to select a basic design would limit NASA's options and hamper exploration planning. NASA spokesman Michael Braukus said Sept. 10 that Bolden, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and Doug Cooke, NASA associate administrator for exploration systems, have been briefed on the HEFT's findings. He said no decisions have been made.

Human Exploration Framework Team Presentation Online, earlier post

Congressional (In)action

Keith's note: According to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation staffer Jeff Bingham, posting yesterday at as" 51D Mascot": "In the meantime, the Congress will have to pass a Continuing Resolution by the end of September for those appropriations bills not yet adopted (which includes the CJS bill where NASA appropriations reside.) Without an adopted (enacted) NASA Authorization bill, funding levels--and allocations--for NASA funding levels would likely be defined as a continuation of the 2010 levels and allocations among accounts, leaving the Agency in the status quo of uncertainty and lack of clear direction for the future; a potential disaster for the skilled workforce and the related capabilities that would be needed to embark on the immediate development of a heavy-lift."

Commercial Space in Jeopardy - T Minus 18 Hours, Space Frontier Foundation

"The Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) called attention today to the latest battle taking place in the US House of Representatives that holds enormous implications for the future of spaceflight. In the next 18 hours, the House leadership will decide whether to allow a vote on the pork-laden House version of the NASA bill or instead pass the better Senate compromise. The SFF asks all commercial space supporters to contact their Congressman. Encourage them to vote 'No' on HR 5781 and allow a vote on the Senate version."

Short-Fuse Opportunity To Support NASA Reform, Space Access Society Bulletin

"We have a chance to head off HR.5781 at the pass over the next 24 hours. The House will be back in session starting next Tuesday 9/14, and is scheduled to remain in session through the first week of October. Only legislation formally placed on the House Calendar will be considered, and the contents of the Calendar will be decided before the end of this week, by Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader."

Space exploration remains vital issue given country's economic current woes, Marion Blakey, The Hill

"The House version of the bill is still pending, floating tetherless in space and awaiting a final pull that can land the matter in a final House-Senate compromise and into law. As time grows short in the legislative calendar, a final resolution seems less and less likely."

Augustine Panelist Rallying Support for Senate's NASA Bill, Space News

"A former member of a White House-appointed committee that reviewed NASA's human spaceflight program last year urged fellow panelists to back a Senate bill that supports commercial space and technology development efforts detailed in the group's final report."

Desert RATS Update

Arid Arizona Home to NASA's RATS, OSTP

"For the past week, hoards of NASA human space exploration study teams have been gallivanting around the Arizona desert as part of NASA's Desert Research And Technology Studies, or Desert RATS. The Desert RATS demonstrations--held in the Arizona desert because it is a prime location here on earth for simulating future exploration destinations--offer engineers, astronauts, and scientists a unique opportunity to test new mission concepts and learn how to work with robotic helpers. ... But this year, not wanting to leave anyone's ideas out of the excitement of exploration, NASA has made great strides in bringing Desert RATS to the public."

Keith's note: Today's NASA Edge/Challenger Center live webcast from Desert RATS will be at 10:00 am PDT / 1:00 PM EDT at Guests: Jim Rice and Keith Cowing. You can follow us at

NASA Edge/Challenger Center Webcast 8 September 2010

Human Exploration Framework Team (HEFT) DRM Review - Phase 1 Closeout - Steering Council September 2 2010 (download 6.6 mb PDF)

"Summary of Phase I

- Developed an investment portfolio that strikes a balance of new developments, technology, and operational programs with an eye towards a new way of exploring.
- Created a point of departure DRM that is flexible and can evolve over time to support multiple destinations with the identified systems.
- Identified a minimum subset of elements needed to conduct earlier beyond LEO missions.
- Infused key technology developments that should begin in earnest and identified gaps which should help inform additional technology prioritization over and above the NEO focused DRM.
- Costed the DRM using traditional costing methodologies.
- Determined alternative development options are required to address the cost and schedule shortfalls."



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