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Planetary Society Continues To Promote Bill Nye's Career

By Keith Cowing on August 31, 2016 5:52 PM.

Keith's note: I wondering why a non-profit organization like the Planetary Society overtly promotes the for-profit Netflix activities of its paid CEO Bill Nye.

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What's Going On With HD 164595?

By Keith Cowing on August 30, 2016 9:17 PM.

- Monitoring in a continuum with the RATAN-600 astronomical candidate objects SETI, SAO

- Breakthrough Listen Follow-up of a Transient Signal from the RATAN-600

"In this memo, we briefly report on our own follow-up observations, undertaken using the new Breakthrough Listen back-end instrument at the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). This preliminary analysis will be followed up in time with a more formal refereed publication of the initial scientific results from Breakthrough Listen."

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Using A Tricorder To Sequence DNA In Space

By Keith Cowing on August 30, 2016 12:21 PM.

First DNA Sequencing Conducted in Space, NASA

"For the first time ever, DNA was successfully sequenced in microgravity as part of the Biomolecule Sequencer experiment performed by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins this weekend aboard the International Space Station. The ability to sequence the DNA of living organisms in space opens a whole new world of scientific and medical possibilities. Scientists consider it a game changer."

In Depth Look: Sequencing DNA in Space, SpaceRef

"NASA is not often known for making the best use of existing COTS (commercial off the shelf technology) aboard the ISS. Then again, sometimes they are. This is an example of when the agency really grabs cutting edge biotech and sends it into space. There's usually quite a lag time. The reasons range from slogging through the often cumbersome payload safety and integration process to people at NASA who are simply not up to date with what the ral world is doing in their field. In this instance a rather remarkable gizmo is being flown in space that truly puts genetic sequencing in the palm of your hand. Indeed, its almost as if NASA was flying part of a version 1.0 Tricorder in space. This is cutting edge technology folks."

Keith's note: Of course, do you see any mention of this groundbreaking accomplishment inside the ISS National Laboratory on the CASIS website? Of course not. But the NASA ISS National Lab webpage and NASA.gov mention it. CASIS seems to be totally unaware of what is going inside the facility it is supposed to manage. More on that in the weeks ahead.

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SES Just Bought A Used Rocket Ride

By Keith Cowing on August 30, 2016 9:46 AM.

SES-10 Launching to Orbit on SpaceX's Flight-Proven Falcon 9 Rocket

"SES and SpaceX announced today they have reached an agreement to launch SES-10 on a flight-proven Falcon 9 orbital rocket booster. The satellite, which will be in a geostationary orbit and expand SES's capabilities across Latin America, is scheduled for launch in Q4 2016. SES-10 will be the first-ever satellite to launch on a SpaceX flight-proven rocket booster."

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Cutting Corners At Spaceport America

By Keith Cowing on August 28, 2016 9:36 PM.

Transparency lacking in spaceport search, editorial, Las Cruces Sun News

"There may be no more important hire in southern New Mexico this year than the next person who is selected to lead Spaceport America. Sadly, we have lost all faith that the process will be comprehensive or transparent. It was decided early on that, instead of hiring a search firm to lead the effort, the Spaceport Authority would rely on social media to get the word out. A subcommittee of four members of the Spaceport Authority board of directors was selected to review applications with former CEO Christine Anderson and send the best ones to Santa Fe for Gov. Susana Martinez. But before that subcommittee could hold its first meeting, the decision was made to call off the search and ship the applications to the governor's office. The Sun-News filed an open records request on Aug. 16 seeking copies of the applications being turned over to the governor's office. The response from the Spaceport Authority was that they would be unable to comply with the requirement that documents be produced within three business days, and would need until the end of the month instead. That's troubling, given that Spaceport Authority board Chairman Rick Holdridge has said that it is his intention to have a new CEO named well before then if possible."

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Trump Campaign CEO Bannon Once Ran Biosphere II Project

By Keith Cowing on August 26, 2016 9:41 PM.

Trump's Campaign CEO Ran a Secretive Sci-Fi Project in the Arizona Desert, Mother Jones

"Long before Stephen Bannon was CEO of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, he held a much different job - as the acting director of Biosphere 2, a $200 million scientific research facility in the mountains outside Tucson, Arizona. ... Bannon left Biosphere 2 after two years, and the project was taken over by Columbia University. (It is currently part of the University of Arizona.) But his departure was marred, as the Tucson Citizen reported at the time, by a civil lawsuit filed against Space Biosphere Ventures by the former crew members who had broken in."

Before Breitbart, before Trump, Bannon bullied people in Biosphere 2, Boing Boing

"Archival reports from 1993 found in the Star-Telegram archives show that Bannon was hired to take over the project at a point where it losing $12-15 million a year. Bannon was a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who ran a firm based in Los Angeles and New York that specialized in media and entertainment investments. .. Bannon's actions soon ended up as part of a civil suit filed by some of the original Biospherians against the new guard. In court, he admitted speaking angry words that echo some more recent accusations against him."

Biosphere 2, wikipedia

"Biosphere 2 was only used twice for its original intended purposes as a closed-system experiment: once from 1991 to 1993, and the second time from March to September 1994. Both attempts, though heavily publicized, ran into problems including low amounts of food and oxygen, die-offs of many animal and plant species, squabbling among the resident scientists and management issues."

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Another Dragon Returns From Space

By Keith Cowing on August 26, 2016 12:14 PM.

SpaceX Dragon Splashes Down with Crucial NASA Research Samples, NASA

"SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 11:47 a.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 26, southwest of Baja California with more than 3,000 pounds of NASA cargo, science and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station. The Dragon spacecraft will be taken by ship to a port near Los Angeles, where some cargo will be removed and returned to NASA immediately. Dragon then will be prepared for a return trip to SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing."

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NASA Future In-Space Operations: What does the future hold for the Deep Space Network

By Marc Boucher on August 26, 2016 9:55 AM.

NASA FISO Presentation: The Deep Space Network - The Next 50 Years

"Dr. Leslie J. Deutsch is the Deputy Director of the Interplanetary Network Directorate at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This Directorate provides information services to spacecraft exploring the solar system and beyond. The Directorate's facilities include NASA's Deep Space Network, the giant antennas used to communicate with these spacecraft."

Note: The audio file and presentation are available online and to download.

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A Tough Act To Follow

By Keith Cowing on August 25, 2016 7:16 PM.

Van Hollen Vows To Continue Mikulski's Passion for Space, SpacePolicyOnline

"Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) vowed to continue the strong support for NASA and NOAA evidenced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski if he is elected as her successor in November. Mikulski is retiring and Van Hollen is widely considered to be the front runner to replace her. Overall, Van Hollen's message today at a luncheon sponsored by the Maryland Space Business Roundtable (MSBR) was one of reassurance. Mikulski's advocacy for NASA and NOAA, especially, but not only, earth science missions, is legendary. Many in the space community are apprehensive about what her departure will mean for NASA and NOAA space programs and budgets. Van Hollen is a relative unknown in space circles and today he clearly wanted to convey his enthusiasm and dedication to continue the fight."

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Woody Bethay

By Keith Cowing on August 25, 2016 1:11 PM.

Joseph Arwood Bethay

"He entered the US Army Ordnance Corp in 1957 and was assigned to the Army Guided Missile Agency at Redstone Arsenal where he managed development of ground support equipment for the Corporal Missile System and warhead development for the Sergeant Missile System. Woody joined Marshal Space Flight Center in 1960. In his 35 years at MSFC he worked on research and development programs including the Saturn, Skylab, High Energy Astronomy Observatories, Space Shuttle, Spacelab, Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra. He retired from NASA in 1995 as the Associate Director of MSFC."

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NIAC Has An ITAR Problem

By Keith Cowing on August 24, 2016 9:04 PM.

NASA advanced technology reports taken offline after export control issue, Space News

"NASA has taken offline technical reports associated with a cutting-edge technology program out of concerns of a possible export control breach, an agency official said Aug. 24. Speaking at annual symposium of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program in Raleigh, North Carolina, Jason Derleth, the NIAC program executive at NASA Headquarters, said the final reports associated with various NIAC research projects have been removed from the agency's website after one of them appeared to contain information that ran afoul of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) export control rules."

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Earth-Mass Planet Orbits Proxima Centauri

By Keith Cowing on August 24, 2016 1:02 PM.

Earth-mass Planet Found In The Habitable Zone Of Proxima Centauri, ESO

"Astronomers using ESO telescopes and other facilities have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri. The long-sought world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. This rocky world is a little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet to us -- and it may also be the closest possible abode for life outside the solar system. A paper describing this milestone finding will be published in the journal Nature on 25 August 2016."

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Don Curry

By Keith Cowing on August 24, 2016 11:40 AM.

Don Curry, Clayton Funeral Homes

"He loved his work at NASA and was involved with every program, from Mercury through the Space Shuttle, before retiring after 45 years. He became one of the world's leading experts on thermal protection systems, receiving much recognition for his work. Don was respected and beloved by his colleagues who referred to him as "The Legend."

Donald M. Curry, NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project Edited Oral History Transcript

"I think most people that worked on the Apollo program out here worked for no extra pay because we were too interested in it. It was too much of a challenge because there wasn't anything known. When [President John F.] Kennedy said, "We're going to the Moon," well, we didn't even have the material. We didn't have the guidance schemes. We'd never done some of these things. We'd only flown one Mercury flight, in fact."

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NASA CIO Drops The Ball On ACES Authorization

By Keith Cowing on August 22, 2016 8:38 PM.

NASA's 'act of desperation' demonstrates continued cyber deficiencies, Federal News Radio

"One of NASA's main networks used by almost every employee and contractor and managed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise is in such bad shape, the agency's chief information officer could no longer accept the risk and let the cybersecurity authorization expire. Renee Wynn, NASA's new CIO, didn't sign off on the authority to operate (ATO) for systems and tools under the $2.5 billion Agency Consolidated End-user Services (ACES) contract, which HPE won in 2010. Under the 10-year contract, HPE provides and manages most of NASA's personal computing hardware, agency-standard software, mobile information technology services, peripherals and accessories, associated end-user services and supporting infrastructure. A NASA spokeswoman confirmed the ATO expired on July 24. She said Wynn signed a "conditional" ATO for the systems under ACES, but internal NASA sources said the authorization is just for the management tools and not for the desktops, laptops and other end user devices. Letting an ATO expire on a major agency network is unheard of in government. Multiple federal cyber experts said agencies know at least a year in advance when an authorization and accreditation needs to be renewed."

NASA Totally Flunks FITARA Scorecard 2 Years In A Row, earlier post

"I need to thank NASA's AA for Legislative Affairs, Seth Statler, for pointing out the hearing - and NASA's 'F' grade. NASA has the distinction in 2016 for being the only agency to get an overall 'F', so congratulations are in order. Of course, in telling everyone about FITARA, it is quite obvious that Statler was doing a little blame shifting as he spoke for NASA CIO Renee Wynn - while throwing her under the bus."

- Earlier posts

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House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Has Been Hijacked

By Keith Cowing on August 22, 2016 6:27 PM.

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More stories for September.

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32nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research will be held from October 26-29, 2016.
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NASA International Space Station On-Orbit Status 30 August 2016

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