Keith Cowing: March 2011 Archives

Subcommittee Democrats Urge Clarity and Realism in NASA's Exploration Plans

"NASA's Douglas Cooke said that NASA understands the direction provided by the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 and is honoring those requirements. And while the agency has not yet finalized its development plans for the Space Launch System and Multipurpose Crew Vehicle, Mr. Cooke told the Subcommittee that NASA "is working expeditiously to ensure it has a credible and integrated plan with which to move forward." He also said that NASA recognizes that Congress wanted more information than the agency was able to provide in a January 2011 interim report and identified late June as the timeframe the agency is targeting for providing Congress with a final report."

Posey Testimony to Budget Committee: Preserve Human Space Flight and Give NASA Clear Direction

"The President abandoned the Constellation program in his budget, calling for it to be cancelled with no solid alternative or plan for the future. By so doing, he set our human space flight program dangerously adrift with vague milestones for the world's premiere space exploration organization. "Last year, Congress and the Administration agreed on an Authorization Bill that focused on developing goals after the Space Shuttle's retirement. This included plans for a new heavy lift capacity while giving limited support to commercial operations. "Unfortunately, the President's proposed budget is a substantial departure from the Authorization Bill that he signed into law in October--cutting $2 billion from the heavy lift program while increasing taxpayer subsidies for the low earth orbit commercial space companies."

Near Term Space Exploration with Commercial Launch Vehicles Plus Propellant Depot, Dr. Alan Wilhite and Dr. Douglas Stanley, Dale Arney and Chris Jones, GRAs Georgia Institute of Technology/ National Institute of Aerospace

"The Propellant Depot Hypotheses

* Large in-space mission elements (inert) can be lifted to LEO in increments on several medium-lift commercial launch vehicles (CLVs) rather than on one Heavy Lift Launch Vehicles (HLLVs)
* The heavy in-space transportation mission elements are beyond the payload capability of medium-lift CLVs; however, 80 to 90 percent of their mass is propellant that can be delivered in increments to a Propellant Depot and transferred to the in-space stages
* Saves DDT&E costs of HLLV
* Low-flight-rate HLLV dominated by high unique fixed costs. Use of CLVs eliminates these costs and spreads lower fixed costs over more flights and other customers.
* Use of large re-fueled cryo stages save DDT&E/ops costs for advanced propulsion stages (e.g., SEP)"

Wheelock photo "Moon from Space" chosen for Real-Time Photo of the Year

"NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock was honored with a Shorty Award for an image of the moon he took and posted to his Twitter account, @Astro_Wheels, while living aboard the International Space Station last year. The awards ceremony was held at the TimesCenter in New York City on Monday, March 28."

First MESSENGER Image of Mercury From Orbit

"Early this morning, at 5:20 am EDT, MESSENGER captured this historic image of Mercury. This image is the first ever obtained from a spacecraft in orbit about the Solar System's innermost planet. Over the subsequent six hours, MESSENGER acquired an additional 363 images before downlinking some of the data to Earth. The MESSENGER team is currently looking over the newly returned data, which are still continuing to come down. Tomorrow, March 30, at 2 pm EDT, attend the NASA media telecon to view more images from MESSENGER's first look at Mercury from orbit."

NASA OIG: Inadequate Security Practices Expose Key NASA Network to Cyber Attack

"The OIG review found that six computer servers associated with information technology (IT) assets that control NASA spacecraft and contain critical data had vulnerabilities that would allow a remote attacker to take control of or render them unavailable. Moreover, once inside the Agency-wide mission network, the attacker could use the compromised computers to exploit other weaknesses we identified, a situation that could severely degrade or cripple NASA operations. We also found network servers that revealed encryption keys, encrypted passwords, and user account information to potential attackers."

NASA spacecraft vulnerable to cyber-attack, Nature

"Gail Robinson of the OIG's office tells Nature the IG can't say publicly which systems are affected for security reasons, but that it has told NASA the information. Although only six examples were documented, the IG report makes clear that up to 130 systems could be affected by the inconsistent oversight."

Houston, We Have a Problem: Critical NASA Systems Vulnerable, PC World

"Anup Ghosh, founder and chief scientist for Invincea, noted that events like the recent attacks against HBGary, RSA, and Comodo, and this audit report from NASA might lead IT admins to ask: "If it is happening to organizations like these, can it happen to us?" But, Ghosh says the better question to ask is: "If it is happening to the top security companies, is it happening everywhere?" Ghosh volunteers the answer to that question, saying it is undoubtedly "yes"."

NASA Computer Servers Insecure, Open to 'Catastrophic' Attack, PC Magazine

"What's the problem? The OIG said NASA has been slow to act on a recommendation it made in May 2010 that NASA secure its networks. At that point, the OIG told NASA to immediately establish an IT security oversight program for its mission network, but as of February 2011, NASA had done nothing."

Space Mission Networks at Risk of Major Breach, Govinfosecurity

"NASA CIO Linda Cureton, in a letter to the IG, generally concurred with the IG's recommendations, saying she will work with mission directorates and centers to develop a comprehensive approach by Sept. 30 to ensure that Internet-accessible computers on NASA's mission networks are routinely identified, vulnerabilities are continually evaluated and risks are promptly mitigated. In addition, Cureton said she will develop and implement a strategy for conducting an Agency-wide risk assessment by Aug. 31."

Keith's note: This photo was taken during the STS-133 mission. Shuttle and ISS crew members pose with a printout of one of the photos taken of the Discovery's ascent into space by the Robonaut-1 balloon flown by Quest for Stars in collaboration with the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. Larger view.

- Video: Robonaut-1: Time Lapse View: Entire flight from Liftfoff to Touchdown
- Educational Balloon Provides Space Shuttle Launch Images and Video From Over 110,000 feet
- First Photos: Shuttle Discovery's Trail Into Space As Seen from Over 70,000 Feet in a Balloon

Chicken Fat Studied by NASA as Eco-friendly Jet Fuel

"It's made out of chicken fat, actually," said Langley's Bruce Anderson, AAFEX II project scientist. "The Air Force bought many thousands of gallons of this to burn in some of their jets and provided about 8,000 gallons (30,283 liters) to NASA for this experiment." Anderson and his team will test a 50-50 mix of biofuel and regular jet fuel, biofuel only, and jet fuel only. The jet fuel is Jet Propellant 8, or JP-8, a kerosene-like mix of hydrocarbons."

House Hearing Summary

Skeptical House Science Committee Reviews FY 2012 NASA Budget Request

"The central focus of a hearing earlier this month of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee was whether NASA's FY 2012 budget request was a path forward for the space agency. Echoing comments heard a year ago, many committee members are unconvinced that the Administration's plan to use commercial transportation services to fly American astronauts to the space station will work."

Make a Wish From Space

Make a Wish From Space - Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake in Japan

"In honor of those affected by the Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake in Japan, Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 27 commander Dmitry Kondratyev (center), European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman are pictured with paper cranes (origami craft), which they folded to be placed in the Kounotori2 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-2). The HTV2 is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 11:45 a.m. EDT on March 28, and re-enter Earth's atmosphere on March 29, 2011."

NASA's Use of Recovery Act Funding for the James Webb Space Telescope Project, NASA OIG

"Based on our review of the final performance reports from the involved contractors and discussions with NASA officials, we concluded that the performance results on the JWST Recovery Act activities fulfilled the intent of the Recovery Act, and for tasks that were not completed within the planned period of performance, delays were justified appropriately."

CAMT 10% Kickback Problem For ACE Bidders, Love and politics

"LovelandPolitics has learned the 10% kickback to CAMT on all Gross Sales has caused considerable consternation by bidders who believe the city's redevelopment of the Agilent campus could be more successful without the ACE partnership by CAMT and their unfunded NASA 5-year collaboration agreement. As one bidder told LovelandPolitics, "We would need to lease 75% of all the renovated space before becoming profitable but without CAMT we would only need to lease 25% before seeing some return on our investment."

NIAC Is Back

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Solicitation

"NASA's Office of Chief Technologist has announced the "NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC)" Phase I Solicitation is now open. The NIAC Program seeks to inspire and nurture revolutionary concepts that could transform future aerospace endeavors. NIAC will fund early studies of visionary, long term concepts - aerospace architectures, systems, or missions (not focused technologies). The goal of NIAC is to give visionary ideas a chance. NASA recognizes that concepts to transform the future may come from innovators across the nation, so this exciting program is open to everyone. If you have a revolutionary concept that NASA should consider, you are encouraged to submit a NIAC proposal."

Hearing Charter

Opening Statement By Rep. Hall, Hearing on NASA FY 2012 Budget Request

"I am concerned that the future of our space program is in serious jeopardy. With the retirement of the Space Shuttle, NASA faces a critical period and needs to focus its limited resources to sustain our leadership in space."

Opening Statement By Charles Bolden, Hearing on NASA FY 2012 Budget Request

"Because these are tough fiscal times, tough choices had to be made. But the proposed FY 2012 budget funds all major elements of the Authorization Act, supporting a diverse portfolio of programs, while making difficult choices to fund key priorities and reduce other areas in order to invest in the future."

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Democrats Caution Against Start-Stop Approach to NASA's Funding and Goals

"While expressing strong support for the President and admiration for Mr. Bolden's leadership, Congresswoman Johnson said that she was disappointed with the request, especially in light of all the work that Congress undertook last year to forge a constructive path forward for the nation's space program."

Our views: An emerging market, editorial, Florida Today

"Suborbital flights that would carry passengers, experiments and satellites from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, launching a new job-creation industry here. The potential was the focus of attention Monday at a University of Central Florida conference that brought together industry leaders to discuss ways to advance the initiative. It's a smart move and one that Space Florida, the state's space-development agency, is correctly pressing as part of its strategy to diversify the space industry with the shuttle's retirement imminent."

If you can, watch this video in HD (select the 720p option). As the payload slowly rotates you will see Discovery's vapor trail at the Earth's limb - twice. The payload (with camera) first swings to the west and then reverses and swings back to the east, past Discovery's vapor trail, around to the west again, and then continues to rotate to the east toward the vapor trail again.

Educational Balloon Provides Space Shuttle Launch Images and Video From Over 110,000 feet

"Last week a balloon with a student-oriented payload shot high resolution photos and video from an altitude of over 110,000 feet of Space Shuttle Discovery as it climbed into space.These images and video were released today as part of a mission report provided by Quest for Stars representative Bobby Russell at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) at the University of Central Florida."

Mike Lounge

Former NASA Astronaut John Mike Lounge Dies

"Former NASA astronaut John Mike Lounge, 64, died Tuesday morning. All of us at the Johnson Space Center are deeply saddened by the passing of former astronaut Mike Lounge, said Michael Coats, Director, Johnson Space Center. I personally had the pleasure of working with Mike in one capacity or another for more than 30 years. He had an unwavering love of country and dedication to our nations space program, as evidenced by a sterling career as a naval aviator and astronaut, and veteran of three space shuttle missions. His many friends at Johnson are thinking of Mikes family during this difficult time."

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Statement on the Passing of Mike Lounge

"Mike was a tremendous supporter of the commercial spaceflight industry. The last year and a half he put in countless volunteer hours to support and advocate for all that we are trying to achieve. He was a good friend with a big heart, and he will be missed tremendously. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time."

Challenger Center and Coalition for Space Exploration Join Forces for Aerospace Education

"Today the Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center) joins the Coalition for Space Exploration (Coalition) as a Partner level member to educate and inspire a new generation of aerospace workers and space explorers. The announcement was made at the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Orlando. Challenger Center and the Coalition both strive to ensure that America remains a leader in space, science and technology. One important facet of that leadership includes a well-trained and competitive workforce which begins with a heightened interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education."

Letter from Space Leaders to Congress Urging Support of NASA's Use of Commercial Crew Services to the ISS

"Dear Members of Congress: We, the undersigned space leaders--over 50 of us, are strong supporters of human spaceflight. We are writing to urge you to fully fund NASA's plan to use commercial companies to carry crew to the Space Station because it is critical to the health of the Nation's human spaceflight efforts.

Among us are former NASA executives and advisors, former astronauts, CEOs and directors of firms large and small, space scientists, space journalists, and others. We include 14 former NASA astronauts, 5 former NASA senior executives, 13 educators and nonprofit leaders, and 24 space industry leaders from a wide variety of firms and institutions, both large and small.

We are a diverse group, but we are only a tiny fraction of the Nation's citizens who support U.S. leadership in human space flight and the development of competitive commercial human spaceflight."

NASA Continues Implementation Of 2010 Authorization Act Program Offices, New Technology Solicitations Announced

"NASA has announced program office assignments at three NASA field centers to align the president's fiscal year 2012 budget request and the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. The agency also has released three Space Technology Program solicitations. NASA will create new program offices to manage human spaceflight activities associated with the development of the Space Launch System, the heavy-lift rocket that will carry humans beyond low Earth orbit; the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the next human exploration spacecraft; and commercial spaceflight vehicles."


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