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ISS News

The Long Confusing Path Toward Space Station Utilization

By Keith Cowing
December 2, 2011
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Keith’s note: I was just at the NASA Education Stakeholders summit session on the ISS National Laboratory Education Project. Two things were apparent. First, little if any progress has been made on transferring responsibilities between NASA JSC and CASIS, the non-profit selected by NASA earlier this year to operate U.S. resources on the ISS. It was obvious that NASA has not done much – and since CASIS is still being formed, that it has not been able to do much either. Only several minutes were spent on this topic. No one from CASIS was on the agenda. Given that the agency has had a year to think about how they would transfer things (no matter who was selected), you’d think that they would have had a plan laid out the moment that CASIS came online. Guess not.
The second issue has to do with NASA JSC’s International Space Station Live! website which continues to add new and interesting features. This site will eventually serve as a really nice way for people to understand what the ISS is doing – and when and why it is doing so. Alas, as cool as this site is, it is still not linked to by the rest of the agency. In addition, it duplicates features already in place on other websites, adding yet another tentacle to the already complex NASA human spaceflight web hydra.
If you go to NASA’s ISS home page there is no mention of this website. Nor is there any mention at,, the ISS National Laboratory page, the HEOMD home page, or the NASA Office of Education (a sponsor).
I raised this issue back in October. When I asked Regina Blue from JSC about this today, she had no easy answer for why this site was not being promoted or linked to other NASA sites other than to say that they were “waiting for a website address”. That is a rather odd excuse since the site has been publicly online since this summer at and is easily findable via Google. If the folks at JSC wanted a different website address than this then why did they put this online in a publicly accessible fashion in the first place?
Yet Another Stealth Website NASA Can’t Coordinate, earlier post
Keith’s update: A new National Laboratory webpage is now online. Meanwhile, CASIS still hasn’t figured out how to do this – and that is one of the things they are supposed to be doing.

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.