Keith Cowing: April 2011 Archives

NASA Commercial Crew Program Requirements Workshop

"Save the Date of May 24 and 25 for NASA's Commercial Crew Program Requirements Workshop. The workshop purpose is to introduce the Commercial Crew Program's requirement set and to discuss the key features of each of the documents. The workshop location will be near Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Details concerning the requirement set, workshop agenda/location, and registration information will be posted within 2 weeks."

Hosted Payload Alliance Shares Perspectives With Panel of U.S. Government Officials in First Organizational Meeting

"A major goal of the Hosted Payload Alliance is to serve as a bridge between government and private industry to foster an open dialogue between potential users and providers of hosted payload capabilities," said Don Thoma, chairman of the HPA Steering Committee. "The fact that we brought together such a large and diverse group of attendees for the first general meeting of the Alliance is a clear validation of the need for this sort of forum."

Keith's note: A new SpaceX Commercial Crew video shows Dragon landing - on Mars.

CCDev2 Press Conference

As President Obama Marks Final Launch of Endeavour, Nation Looks to Commercial Space for the Future, Commercial Spaceflight Federation

"John Gedmark concluded, "We'll finally be able to realize the sci-fi future people have been dreaming about, one that inspired an entire generation of dreamers and innovators. People are again imagining a future like we saw in the landmark film '2001: A Space Odyssey', where private spacecraft offered frequent flights into space. This is going to be one of the most exciting stories of the 21st century, and we are just at the beginning of that story."

NASA Briefing With Commercial Crew Development Award Winners

"NASA will host a media briefing at 11 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 28, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to highlight the four companies selected for the second round of the agency's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev2) efforts."

- Blue Origin's Crew Transportation System, earlier post
- CCDev2 Selections Announced (Update), earlier post

Keith's note: NASA will host a media briefing at 11 a.m. EDT Thursday. The briefing will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed at: Tweets from CSF can be found at @csf_spaceflight

White House Threatens Science Blog Over Use of Logo, Electronic Frontier Foundation

"When Keith Cowing made an innocuous post about a meeting of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology on his long-running science policy blog, Space Ref, he didn't imagine that it would trigger a phone call from the White House. But that is exactly what happened, and the White House was not calling to congratulate him on his excellent science policy coverage. Cowing's offense? Including an image of the seal of the Executive Office of the President of the United States in his blog post. According to Cowing, White House staffer Rick Weiss objected to the seal's placement in proximity to an ad, which White House lawyers worried might be construed as an endorsement of the product."

White House bullies science blog over use of logo, TG Daily

"Cowing's use of a government logo isn't deceptive either. The seal is clearly used in relation with the news article and the ad is no closer on his blog than ads are on news websites and in most newspapers and magazines. In actuality, the seal of the Executive Office of the President of the United States is widely used all over the internet. Sometimes it's even used in close proximity to advertising. The threatening calls from the White House seem more like attempts to curb free speech than anything else. It's quite pathetic actually. It raises the question; doesn't the White House have better things to do than bully bloggers who are involved in free speech? Sadly we live in a world where the White House needs more training on how the First Amendment works."

White House Threatens Blog For Accurately Using White House Logo, Techdirt

"The latest involves the White House, who apparently got upset that blogger Keith Cowing (of -- a blog about science/space policy) included the White House logo in his post about a meeting of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. In response, the White House actually called Cowing and demanded he take down the logo."

Endeavour Is Good to Go

It's a Unanimous "Go" for Endeavour

"The Space Shuttle Program Mission Management Team voted unanimously to proceed toward Endeavour's scheduled liftoff at 3:47 p.m. EDT Friday. Mike Moses, chair of the Prelaunch Mission Management team, reported that it was a very short meeting and everything is in great shape and ready to go."

NASA Invites 150 Lucky Twitter Followers To Endeavour Launch

"NASA invited 150 lucky people to a behind-the-scenes perspective from the press site at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the final launch of space shuttle Endeavour on Friday, April 29. The launch is scheduled for 3:47 p.m. EDT."

Making Do With a Plywood Spaceship, New York Times

"Q. What was your response when NASA announced its decision?

A. A shuttle would have been our first choice. I won't pretend we're not disappointed, but we're moving forward.

Q. What are the plans for the Space Gallery?

A. We will have a full-size mockup of the space shuttle -- a full fuselage shuttle trainer. It looks exactly like the shuttle except that it doesn't have wings. One advantage is that because it is not a priceless artifact like the shuttle, we'll be able to use it for educational purposes. Some people, but not everyone, will be able to go inside. They won't be able to do that with the shuttles. The trainer is about the size of a 747. The tail is 56 feet high. From the outside it will look exactly like the shuttle except for the wings."

Keith's note: I predict that the Seattle folks will create an experience for visitors that will eclipse all others - even those that use real orbiters. Imagination can often trump reality. Seattle has that. Houston: take note.

NASA Solicitation: Flight and Payload Intergation Services for Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles

"This notice is issued by the NASA/DFRC to post a draft RFP via the internet, and solicit responses from interested parties. This document is for information and planning purposes and to allow industry the opportunity to verify reasonableness and feasibility of the requirement, as well as promote competition."

NASA's NanoSail-D Satellite Continues to Slowly De-Orbit Earth's Upper Atmosphere

"NASA's nanosatellite NanoSail-D is slowly descending after successfully orbiting the Earth's upper atmosphere for 95 days since deploying its 100-square-foot sail on Jan. 20. The small satellite demonstration experiment continues its descent towards Earth, lending key sail data to the design of de-orbit mechanisms for future satellites."

Keith's note: I love the title of this MSFC press release: just how does a satellite "de-orbit Earth's upper atmosphere"? There certainly is a lot of it to "de-orbit". And where does the upper atmosphere go when once NanoSail-D has de-orbited it - the lower atmosphere?. Also, this sentence is a little odd: "NASA's nanosatellite NanoSail-D is slowly descending after successfully orbiting the Earth's upper atmosphere for 95 days since deploying its 100-square-foot sail on Jan. 20." Yea sure - but don't all satellites "orbit the Earth's upper atmosphere"? Actually, they orbit within the Earth's rarefied upper atmosphere - which is why NanoSail-D is deorbiting (drag). So ... maybe the word "within" would have been useful. Oh yes, what does "the large tent size sail" mean in terms of size - i.e. what is "large"? Is this the size of a 4 person tent? A circus tent?

See Your Exposure with Space Radiation iPhone app

"HAMPTON, Va. - Flying somewhere and want to find out your exposure to galactic and solar radiation? A new update to an iPhone app will let you do that. The $1.99 "Space Wx" app provides real-time information about exposure to radiation from solar activity and other sources from space, starting at an altitude of 16,000 feet (5). Exposure levels are broken down by altitude and latitude, with the highest exposures typically occurring higher and farther north."

Keith's note: Typical PAO goofiness: issue a press release about an iPhone app - but forget to provide a link to the app so people can actually use it. What has me puzzled is why this NASA press release says that they are charging $1.99 for this app when all other NASA apps are free. Didn't taxpayers already pay for this app? Or wait - is this a government advertisement for a commercial product? Doubly confused.

Here's the app.

NASA Hosts Conrad Foundation's 2011 Spirit of Innovation Awards

"Young innovators from across America are invited to solve the challenges of the 21st century by creating breakthrough technologies at the Conrad Foundation's 2011 Innovation Summit. The Summit will be held at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., on April 28-May 1, 2011. This year's categories for team entries are: aerospace exploration, clean energy and cyber security."

Budget crunch mothballs telescopes built to search for alien signals, Scientific American

"The hunt for extraterrestrial life just lost one of its best tools. The Allen Telescope Array (ATA), a field of radio dishes in rural northern California built to seek out transmissions from distant alien civilizations, has been shuttered, at least temporarily, as its operators scramble to find a way to continue to fund it. In an April 22 letter to donors, Tom Pierson, CEO of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., explained that the ATA has been put into "hibernation," meaning that "starting this week, the equipment is unavailable for normal observations and is being maintained in a safe state by a significantly reduced staff." The ATA is a partnership between the SETI Institute, which is responsible for building the telescope array, and the University of California, Berkeley, which is responsible for operating it."

The Shuttle Party Is Over

Transcendence Splashes Down, New York Magazine

"It is objectively no small feat, slipping the surly bonds of Earth. But somehow, over its 30 years of existence, NASA's Space Shuttle program has become roughly as thrilling as the Delta Shuttle. Still, there's something sad about the end of the program, which will officially shut down after Endeavour's 25th and final mission, on April 29, and one last there-and-back by Space Shuttle Atlantis in June. It's not so much that the program's increasingly prosaic missions--they have amounted, in recent years, to something like space carpooling--will be missed. The sadness instead comes from the petering out of space travel's promised transcendence."

With 'Coolest Job Ever' Ending, Astronauts Seek Next Frontier, New York Times

"What happens when you have the right stuff at the wrong time? Members of NASA's astronaut corps have been asking just that, now that the space shuttle program is ending and their odds of flying anywhere good anytime soon are getting smaller. The Endeavour is scheduled to launch this week, and the Atlantis is supposed to fly the last shuttle mission in June -- and all the seats are spoken for. "Morale is pretty low," said Leroy Chiao, a former astronaut who now works for a company that wants to offer space flights for tourists. "This is a time of great uncertainty."

Dick Underwood

Richard Weeden Underwood

"Dick was chief engineer on the production of the first topographic maps of the moon. He was the first person to view every photograph from the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz and the first 23 space shuttle missions. He also provided technical training to every astronaut who went into space in the twentieth century. During his NASA career he presented 1506 lectures to audiences all over the world. He loved to travel and visited every county in the U.S."

SpaceX: Something Big Is Coming - Elon Musk to Hold Press Conference in Washington Tuesday (with video)

"Elon Musk, CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), will hold a press conference on Tuesday, April 5th at the National Press Club in Washington to discuss his company's latest venture."

Keith's 31 March note: SpaceX justed tweeted "Something big is coming". If you go to their website you see that the big day is 5 April 2011 ...



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