Marc Boucher: June 2011 Archives

Atlantis: The Grand Finale Photo Special at Launch Pad 39A Part 1, SpaceRef

"The Grand Finale of NASA's three decade long Space Shuttle program is less than two weeks away. Recently NASA allowed reporters unprecedented access to photograph the Space Shuttle Atlantis while it waits on the pad. Here is part one."

European space chief: International Space Station in 'chaos', The Telegraph

Speaking at the Paris Air Show on Monday, Mr Dordain said: "We are not in a very comfortable situation, and that's just a euphemism. The biggest lesson from the international space station programme is entirely the lack of a joint transportation policy."

"The International Space Station is a splendid co-operation between five partners, but they did make a mistake ... we didn't discuss things sufficiently."

Payload Readied for Trip to the Pad as Tanking Test Wraps Up, NASA

"During the tanking test, the main fuel valve for Atlantis' No. 3 space shuttle main engine recorded temperatures below normal levels, indicating a possible liquid hydrogen leak. Teams isolated the engine and continued to fuel Atlantis with no issues and temperatures returned to normal readings. Technicians can gain access to the engine area once it is cleared from tanking test operations, and engineers will evaluate any necessary work on the fuel valve. If the valve needs to be replaced, managers expect that the work could be done early next week at the pad and still support Atlantis' July 8 target launch date."

Senator Shelby Letter Expressing Concern to NASA About Shuttle Derived Booster Space Launch System, Senator Shelby

"I am concerned, therefore, that NASA is considering a Space Launch System architecture that relies on a booster system developed for the Space Shuttle. I am particularly concerned that this plan might be implemented without a meaningful competitive process. Designing a Space Launch System for heavy lift that relies on existing Shuttle boosters ties NASA, once again, to the high fixed costs associated with segmented solids. Moreover, I have seen no evidence that foregoing competition for the booster system will speed development of SLS or, conversely, that introducing competition will slow the program down."

Mars Rover Curiosity, NASA

"Taken during mobility testing on June 3, 2011, this image is of the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, inside the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif."

Marc's note: Looks menacing, do you think the Martians will be intimidated? :-)

NASA Spacecraft to Make Cross Country Voyage, NASA

"NASA is inviting the public to view a test version of the agency's next spacecraft that will carry humans into deep space.

The Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, which NASA announced last month would be the agency's deep space crew module based on the original work on the Orion capsule, will make three stops as it travels by truck from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida."

Marc's note: Tucson, Austin and Tallahassee residents can get an up close and personal look at the MPCV. Goodness, can't we just call it Orion or Orion2? The public's just going to go huh with that acronym.

Last Ever Shuttle to Haul Raffaello Logistics Module to the International Space Station, Ken Kremer for SpaceRef

"The primary goal of the STS-135 flight is to haul the "Raffaello" multipurpose logistics module (MPLM) up to the International Space Station. The 21 foot long cylindrical module is mounted inside the shuttle cargo bay during launch and landing.

Raffaello is a space 'moving van' and loaded with some 12 tons of critical supplies, spare parts and science equipment to stock up the station before the shuttles are retired forever, despite the fact that they have many years of service life remaining."

Shuttle's End Leaves NASA a Pension Bill, New York Times

"The nation's space agency plans to spend about half a billion dollars next year to replenish the pension fund of the contractor that has supplied thousands of workers to the space shuttle program.

The shuttle program accounts for a vast majority of the business of United Space Alliance, originally a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. With the demise of the shuttle program, United Space Alliance will be left without a source of revenue to keep its pension plan afloat. So the company wants to terminate its family of pension plans, covering 11,000 workers and retirees, and continue as a smaller, nimbler concern to compete for other contracts."

Previously: NASA Facing $548 Million Payment To Cover USA Pension Fund Shortfall, Space News (April 1, 2011)

"The single biggest check NASA expects to write next year will go to United Space Alliance (USA) to cover a half-billion-dollar shortfall in the space shuttle contractor's pension fund."

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab to Host International Conference on Low-Cost Planetary Missions - Media Invited, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab

"Devising ways to explore space in tight fiscal times tops the agenda of the 9th International Conference on Low-Cost Planetary Missions, set for June 21-23, 2011, at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md."

NASA ConstellationMemo Marks Official End of Constellation, Space News

"A senior NASA official has signed the formal death warrant for the Constellation deep space exploration program even as work proceeds on one of Constellation's legacy development efforts and agency officials continue to ponder the fate of another.

"I have signed the letter to close out the Constellation Program," Douglas Cooke, associate administrator for NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, wrote in a June 10 memo."

Major Drop in Solar Activity PredictedMajor Drop in Solar Activity Predicted, National Solar Observatory and American Astronomical Society

"A missing jet stream, fading spots, and slower activity near the poles say that our Sun is heading for a rest period even as it is acting up for the first time in years, according to scientists at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)."

"If we are right," Hill concluded, "this could be the last solar maximum we'll see for a few decades. That would affect everything from space exploration to Earth's climate."

Family/Personal Preparedness, NASA HQ Emergency Operations

"A major initiative has been placed on Family/Personal Preparedness for all NASA personnel. The NASA Family/Personal Preparedness Program is designed to provide awareness, resources, and tools to the NASA Family (civil servants and contractors) to prepare for an emergency situation. The most important assets in the successful completion of NASA's mission are our employees' and their families. We are taking the steps to prepare our workforce, but it is your personal obligation to prepare yourself and your families for emergencies."

Marc's note: This video was released this past weekend for NASA employees.

LaserMotiveLaserMotive to Present at NASA Day on the Hill, LaserMotive

"LaserMotive is pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate its wireless power technology next week at the NASA Day on the Hill. This annual event is open to the public as well as to Congress, but the presenters (such as LaserMotive) are by invitation only. Most of the presenters are from NASA or NASA contractors. However, LaserMotive is just one of two companies presenting that are not NASA contractors, making this honor extra special."

Marc's Note: This is a good story. Here's a startup out of Seattle that entered and won the first phase of NASA's Power Beaming Centennial Challenge and has since gone on to build a business case for their technology development. You can see them in DC on the Hill tomorrow.

Previous: NASA and Spaceward Foundation Award Prize Money for Successful Wireless Power Demonstration, NASA (Nov. 9, 2009)

"NASA has awarded $900,000 in prize money to a Seattle company that successfully demonstrated new wireless energy beaming technology which could one day be used to help power a "space elevator."

Vesta Images and Movie Finally ReleasedVesta's Surface Comes into View, NASA

"This movie shows surface details beginning to resolve as NASA's Dawn spacecraft closes in on the giant asteroid Vesta. The framing camera aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained the images used for this animation on June 1, 2011, from a distance of about 300,000 miles (483,000 kilometers)."

-- NASA Spacecraft Captures Video of Asteroid Approach, NASA JPL

Marc's Note: The video "One Earth" by Fiona Conn won NASA's Earth Day Video Contest. NASA's Earth Observatory blog latest post features all the entries.

J-2X Ready For Testing

NASA's New Upper Stage Rocket Engine Ready For Testing
NASA's New Upper Stage Rocket Engine Ready For Testing, NASA

"An upper stage engine is essential to making space exploration outside low-Earth orbit a reality," said Mike Kynard, manager of the J-2X upper stage engine project at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "The J-2X goes beyond the limits of its historic predecessor and achieves higher thrust, performance, and reliability than the J2. We are thrilled to have the engine in the test stand to validate our assumptions about engine performance and reliability."

12:55 p.m. EDT Update: J-2X Progress: Road Trip, Baby!, NASA Blog (With images)

"Our little engine is pulled out of the air-conditioned confines of its assembly area and trucked across the NASA Stennis Space Center to its test stand. No more pleasantly cool and dry air for you, E10001. This is Mississippi in June. Thus, in order to make this trip out in the open like this on the back of the truck (don't try this at home!), the engine has to be sealed up tight against the humidity (and bugs) hanging in the air. Anywhere where there is an opening, there is a cover, a closure, or a plug."

NASAWhy Do You Have to Type out 'www' to Get to our Website?, NASA

"It seems really simple - just three letters. But they seem to annoy some of our users, who have let us know: "Why do I have to type and not just Don't you people even know the basics of running a web site?"

Marc's Note: I read this blog post and my jaw dropped. I've complained before that I didn't understand why I couldn't just type in any browser to get to NASA's web site. After all, technically it's a simple change to the domains Domain Name System (DNS) entry. Now I have the answer, NASA says it's an expensive move. Huh! Ok, sure NASA is a very popular web site. But changing the DNS entry so that queries typed in a browser as get redirected to shouldn't add prohibitive costs. No way.

MarsMars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) Meeting 24, NASA

Marc's note: For the first time NASA's community-based forum, the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG), will be holding its meeting outside the U.S., and in this case in Lisbon, Portugal. This is significant in the context of tighter budgets for all concerned where future Mars missions will see greater international cooperation to share costs while at the same time achieving mutual desired science and exploration results. The era of NASA doing Mars mission wholly or mostly on its own appears to be ending. At least for the foreseeable future.

Some of the key topics of the meeting include:

- Discussion of NASA's and ESA's Mars program status, budget, current missions, and forward planning.
- First MEPAG meeting that can respond to the Decadal Survey results.



Monthly Archives

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by Marc Boucher in June 2011.

Marc Boucher: May 2011 is the previous archive.

Marc Boucher: July 2011 is the next archive.

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