Keith Cowing: May 2011 Archives

Endeavour's Final Launch Inspires Hands-on Public Engagement: High Altitude Balloon Mission

"The helium-filled balloon carrying the "Senatobia-1" payload will be launched from the vicinity of Gainesville, Florida. The expected balloon launch time is on Monday, 16 May between 7:30 to 7:45 am EDT. This will allow the balloon and its payload to be in position at an altitude of approximately 100,000 feet for Endeavour's supersonic transit of the stratosphere beginning with a planned liftoff at 8:56 am EDT. If there is a delay in the launch of Endeavour the Quest for Stars team is ready to try again - several times - on subsequent days."

Keith's note: If all goes according to plan we will have live video from the balloon as Senatobia-1 ascends to catch Endeavour. Video feeds and tracking links here. Launch site feed begins at 7:15 am EDT. This is the projected flight path.

Keith's note: On board today are photos of Baruch Blumberg and Bob Clark. Launch is now planned for 7:39 am EDT.

Keith's note: The balloon has been launched. Track its progresss live at or

Keith's note: The balloon burst at 95,000 ft - very close to target altitude of 100,000 ft - and the payload is now parachuting nominally toward landing.

NASTAR Suborbital Scientist Astronaut Training: Full Acceleration Flight Profile Centrifuge Runs (archived video)

Keith's note: My three centrifuge runs - Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two flight profiles - one at 50% acceleration and two at 100% acceleration - starts at 51:50 in the archived webcast. As you can see, we all had a great time. Let me tell you, the experience of pulling 6Gs is utterly exhilarating. With the proper training (such as NASTAR provides) and the right mindset, the more you do it, the better you get at it - and the more you want to do it - for real.

Going Suborbital at NASTAR, earlier post

Florida Legislature Delivers $43+ Million for Space Industry, Space Florida

"Aerospace-related economic development played a significant role in the 2011 Florida Legislative Session, with more than $43 million being committed for growth of the industry in the coming year. Governor Rick Scott laid out an aggressive plan, not only for Florida's overall economy, but for Florida's space industry in particular, and that plan was formalized by the Legislature."

Congress Prohibits OSTP from Chinese Cooperation, Forbes

"The clause prohibits the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from coordinating any joint scientific activity with China. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), a long-time critic of the Chinese government who chairs a House spending committee that oversees several science agencies, inserted the language into the spending legislation to prevent NASA or OSTP from using federal funds "to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company."

More posts on NASA and China

FAA Public Meeting: Regulatory Approach for Commercial Orbital Human Spaceflight

"This notice announces a public meeting to solicit comments and information from the public on the regulatory approach to commercial orbital human spaceflight by the FAA. This public meeting is intended to aid the FAA in its regulatory effort by receiving early input from the affected community."

IISC Publishes Research Study on Orbital Space Tourism Demand

"In recent years excellent research has focused on suborbital demand, but few detailed studies have been available on actual market demand for orbital personal spaceflight. Additionally, the considerable change in the financial landscape since 2008 highlighted the need for up-to-date data on the demand for personal space travel, given the impact on wealthy individuals and cash availability for space tourism."

Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Hearing - Commercial Space Transportation's FY12 Budget

Bob Clark

Keith's note: I just learned with great sadness of the passing of Bob Clark aka "Dr. Bob". Bob was the guy who hired me to work at NASA as a civil servant on the Space Station Freedom Program in 1990. Bob was my first introduction to "old NASA". He cut his teeth in the Apollo and Skylab days when you needed good design and operations since there was no software to fix those things when your butt was on the line. I have to say that probably learned more from him than any other person I worked for at NASA.

He let me know when I screwed up and defended me like a mother wolverine when I was right. He taught me the rules and how to break them - and the value of learning to work with friends - and co-opt one's enemies - as a team. For that I am forever indebted.

I'll never forget the time he stood guard outside several offices with closed doors as a co-worker and I installed a pirate Mac Appletalk network above the ceilings of the offices of people who were in a staff meeting at the time. "Its easier to ask forgiveness than permission" Bob would often say.

The other day I gave Joe Rothenberg and Ed Lu a tour of the old Titan 1 ICBM we're fixing up at ARC. I mentioned Bob by name as I talked about the value of old elegant design and how it still had lessons to teach. I also gave Nancy Conrad a tour of the rocket that day. Bob worked on the Skylab repair with her late husband Pete. I had a similar chat with her. We're going to restore this old thing in away that will teach future generations. I guess Bob must have been sending me messages through that old rocket on that day.

Bob liked Farside cartoons, good BBQ and beer after a day of arguing in design reviews, and despite his sharp mind and wisdom he never managed to find a way to match his clip-on ties with the shirt and sans-a-belt slacks he was wearing. Bob had a collection of horrid ties that he stored on the blinds in his office. When he had to wear one as "boss" he'd just grab one at random - without looking - and clip it on.

My kind of boss.

Ad Astra Dr. Bob.

Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Awards: Teens Invent One-of-a-kind Products, Address Tech Challenges

"Demonstrating they had the most unique approaches to solving real-world challenges in aerospace, clean energy and cyber security the winners of the Conrad Foundation's 2011 Innovation Summit were announced today at the conclusion of the four-day event held at NASA-Ames Research Center. The annual innovation program encourages high-school students from across the country to solve the challenges of the 21st century by creating breakthrough technologies using science, technology, engineering and math knowledge and skills. The grand prize winners taking home the coveted title of 2011 Pete Conrad Scholars sponsored by Lockheed Martin Corporation were: ..."

Keith's note: Of course, JSC PAO will never let you see this video if they can help it. That officially sanctioned roadblock not withstanding, this team deserves credit for going around JSC PAO anyways and showing people what they are doing - warts and all. Bravo guys. Keep at it.

NASA Wary of Bid Protests in Developing Heavy-lift Approach, Space News

"However, if NASA chooses to leverage this hardware under existing contracts for the heavy-lift rocket, as directed in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, it could face a challenge from companies that are not currently in the mix. Propulsion provider Aerojet of Sacramento, Calif., for example, has made clear its desire for a competition to build elements of the Space Launch System. "We need to pick a path where we have mitigated the possibility for a protest to the degree we can," Cooke said in an April 26 interview. "And no matter what path you take there is always that possibility. You can always get a protest."



Monthly Archives

About this Archive

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

Keith Cowing: April 2011 is the previous archive.

Keith Cowing: June 2011 is the next archive.

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