Keith Cowing: March 2012 Archives

ATV-3 Power Connection Successful, Reboost Set

"Multi-national flight controllers successfully connected a backup power channel Saturday to the European Space Agency's "Edoardo Amaldi" Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) cargo ship, enabling electricity to flow from the International Space Station to the ATV to set the stage for a reboost of the station Saturday afternoon while avoiding an early undocking of the resupply craft."

"This year, we are giving everyone the chance to attend the Innovation Summit - virtually. We'll stream live footage of the Summit's opening remarks, daily fireside chats, interactive student workshops, and opening and closing ceremonies."

Live webcast Link

Today, in a message from the International Space Station, Astronauts Don Pettit and Dan Burbank welcomed students to the Conrad Foundation Innovation Summit at NASA Ames Research Center. Burbank refered to a comment made by President Obama to participants at the Second Annual Science Fair at the White House: "Don't be bored - make something!". Video (go to 00:35)

NASA administrator warns agency may have to cut 'everything' but top 3 priorities if no budget deal

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden warned Wednesday that, unless Congress reaches a deal with the White House to avoid mandated budget cuts next year, NASA would have to cancel all of its other missions to keep its three top priorities moving forward."

Washington Monument Syndrome

"Washington Monument Syndrome ... is the name of a political tactic allegedly used by government agencies when faced with reductions in the rate of projected increases in budget or actual budget cuts. The most visible and most appreciated service that is provided by that entity is the first to be put on the chopping block."

Stephen Hawking Accepts Prestigious NSS Award on Society's 25th Anniversary

"The National Space Society (NSS) is pleased to announce Dr. Stephen Hawking as the 14th recipient of NSS's Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award. The award [was] be presented to Dr. Hawking at a special ceremony at the Cooks Branch Conservancy in Montgomery, Texas on Wednesday, March 28 and is given in recognition of his outstanding and continuing public efforts in support of human space development and settlement."

Keith's note: Commercial space is almost certainly going to come up at each of these hearings. I wonder if the Commercial Spaceflight Federation will continue to be silent as they were last week when the topic was raised at two other hearings.

Hearing Airs Concerns with Sustaining Space Station and Fulfilling Research Potential

"Although NASA has done a credible job of ensuring that the ISS can last for years to come, the question that remains is whether NASA will be able to service the station and productively use it for science," Ms. Chaplain said. "Routine launch support is essential to both, but the road ahead depends on successfully overcoming several complex challenges, such as technical success, funding, international agreements, and management and oversight of the national laboratory."

- Science, Space, and Tech Committee Hearing: Securing the Promise of the International Space Station
- Hearing Charter
- Statement: Ralph Hall
- Statement: William H. Gerstenmaier
- Statement: Cristina Chaplain
- Statement: Thomas P. Stafford

- Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Hearing on NASA Budget

- Statement: Sen. Mikulski
- Statement: Charles Bolden
- NASA Budget Estimates

- Odd Silence on the Commercial Space Front, earlier post

References to CASIS in House Hearing on Space Station Utilization

GAO: "Since the establishment of CASIS as the management body of ISS research is relatively recent, we have not examined its effectiveness; therefore, it is too early for us to say whether it will be successful in ensuring full scientific utilization of the station as a national laboratory."

Democrats Emphasize the Need for a Clear Plan for Utilization of the International Space Station

"In short, we need clear, prioritized and integrated utilization plans from NASA, and we need to be assured that those plans are being carried out, both by NASA and by the independent ISS research management organization, CASIS, that was set up for that purpose."

Hearing Notes: Charles Bolden Testifies on NASA's FY 2013 Budget, earlier post

"Rep. Wolf suggested that NASA needs to look at CASIS carefully saying "if they are not with it in 30-45 days we should pull it and give it to NSF". Bolden replied that a letter was being sent to CASIS to remind them of their milestones and "if they they do not meet milestones we will find another way."

Space Station's Future Rides on Commercial Cargo Haulers, SpaceNews

"Lawmakers also raised concerns about the Florida-based nonprofit organization CASIS that NASA hired six months ago to run the U.S. National Laboratory portion of the space station. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space is in the midst of a reorganization following the resignation of its director this month. Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) called for review of CASIS by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Hall did not comment publicly on the request."

Earlier CASIS postings

Evacuation? Surely we can do better!, B612 Foundation

"The other day we had a couple of small asteroids narrowly miss hitting the Earth, and we only discovered them about a day before they flew by. This is actually a fairly common occurrence (and these particular asteroids are like most of these cases quite small and relatively harmless). But consider what would happen if a larger asteroid like the one that hit Tunguska in 1908 was found to be on a collision course just a day or so ahead of impact. Our only option would be to evacuate the impact area."

NASA's Twitter Account Receives Shorty Award

"NASA's activities in social media were recognized on Monday in New York when the agency's official Twitter feed, @NASA, received a Shorty Award for the best government use of social media. The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media across sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Foursquare and others. NASA's nomination cited multiple aspects of the agency's social-media efforts, including the popular Angry Birds in Space game and encouragement of science among young people."

NASA Successfully Launches Five Rockets from NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia

"NASA successfully launched five suborbital sounding rockets this morning from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia as part of a study of the upper level jet stream. Each of the rockets released a chemical tracer that created milky, white clouds at the edge of space. The launches and clouds were reported to be seen from as far south as Wilmington, N.C.; west to Charlestown, W. Va.; and north to Buffalo, N.Y."

Rumors of NASA's demise greatly exaggerated, opinion, Nick Lampson

"Right now, NASA is building the next-generation deep-space crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to explore farther than ever before. NASA is also expanding use of the International Space Station by partnering with American companies to create transportation capabilities for reaching the station in low Earth orbit. This will stimulate the economy and decrease our reliance on foreign launch providers. Congress has directed all of these activities in a bipartisan manner."

Crater, By Homer Hickam

Book Review: "Crater" By Homer Hickam

"Crater" by Homer Hickam, is aimed at younger readers and manages to deliver quite a well-paced adventure. The book focuses on the adventures of Crater Trueblood a 16 year old blue collar kid who lives on the Moon complete with a mysterious past and a penchant for invention. He also has a knack of stumbling into one mini-adventure after another as he makes his way across the lunar surface to catch a ride on a spaceship to obtain a secret object for his boss. In a nutshell, "Crater" is sort of like Harry Potter meets Indiana Jones on the Moon - with some John Guest thrown in for good measure."

NASA Is Becoming Boring

James Cameron Completes Record-Breaking Mariana Trench Dive

"Now "the science team is getting ready for the returned samples," expedition astrobiologist Kevin Hand, of NASA, said in an email. ... Because Cameron had prepared extensively for the dive, he should be in good psychological health, said Walter Sipes, an aeronautics psychologist at NASA's Johnson Space Center."

Keith's note: A former NASA Advisory council member and MSL imaging co-investigator goes to the deepest place on Earth - with a NASA astrobiologist supporting his dive. The media seek out NASA experts for comment. Alas, no mention at NASA's Astrobiology website or anywhere else at NASA. Not surprising since NASA blew off "Avatar" as just another SciFi movie - until it made several billion at the box office. When Felix Baumgartner jumps from the edge of space soon NASA will ignore that too even though there are NASA alumni advising him. Meanwhile, NASA still can't figure out the name of the asteroid they (or might not) might visit in 10 or 15 years. And then the agency complains when people don't pay attention to what they do. Why should they, NASA is becoming boring.

Repurposing Express-AM4: Mission Possible: Recycling Space Junk into Antarctic Science Treasure

"There have been reports that the Express-AM4 spacecraft has received too high of a radiation dose, beyond that expected for its entire 15 year mission, thus rendering the use of the satellite to risky for our purpose. This analysis is likely based upon older computer models of the radiation environment in its current orbit. The current solar cycle (solar cycle 24) has so far only been a fraction of past solar cycles, upon which most current computer radiation models are based."


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