NASA Watch

This is not a NASA Website. You might learn something. It's YOUR space agency. Get involved. Take it back. Make it work - for YOU.
nasawatch@spaceref.com | Voice +1.703.787.6567 | RSS Feed | Twitter | Advertising | Important Disclaimer

NASA FOIA Follies Continue

By Keith Cowing on August 23, 2017 4:33 PM.

Getting NASA to Comply With Simple FOIA Requests Is a Nightmare

"Trying to effectively use the Freedom of Information Act can be hell. Maybe a police department will demand a ridiculous and seemingly arbitrary fee to collect records, or perhaps an agency simply won't respond to requests. Judging by Motherboard's own requests as well as those from Freedom of Information organizations, one government body in particular stands out for turning FOIA requests into a nightmare: NASA. Trying to effectively use the Freedom of Information Act can be hell. Maybe a police department will demand a ridiculous and seemingly arbitrary fee to collect records, or perhaps an agency simply won't respond to requests. Judging by Motherboard's own requests as well as those from Freedom of Information organizations, one government body in particular stands out for turning FOIA requests into a nightmare: NASA."

- NASA FOIA Follies Continue, earlier post
- Why Does it Take 2 Years For GSFC To Respond to a FOIA Request?, earlier post
- Never Ask NASA a Simple Question, earlier post
- NASA Refuses To Accept Its Own News Media Accreditation (Update), earlier post
- In Search Of A CASIS Report Card, earlier post

Categories: ,

Becoming Interstellar - a Review of "The Farthest: Voyager In Space"

By Keith Cowing on August 22, 2017 8:24 PM.

Review of "The Farthest: Voyager In Space" - Becoming Interstellar

"In 1977 the twin Voyager spacecraft left planet Earth bound for the outer reaches of our solar system - and beyond. What they discovered changed our way of thinking about how worlds are built and broadened our notions of where life might be found. The story of this audacious project is told in the captivating new documentary "The Farthest" which is airing on PBS this week. The film itself is weaved together rather artfully - not unlike the sounds and images that were placed on the now-famous "Golden Records" that each spacecraft carried. The story is narrated mostly by people who were there. Indeed its like listening to the crew of a ship of discovery recount the days of wonder that they experienced."

Categories: ,

At Least Someone In the White House Knew How To Watch an Eclipse

By Keith Cowing on August 21, 2017 2:56 PM.

Categories:

Trump Eliminates National Climate Assessment Panel

By Keith Cowing on August 21, 2017 12:13 PM.

The Trump administration just disbanded a federal advisory committee on climate change, Washington Post

"The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government's climate analysis into long-term planning. ... Administration officials are currently reviewing a scientific report that is key to the final document. Known as the Climate Science Special Report, it was produced by scientists from 13 different federal agencies and estimates that human activities were responsible for an increase in global temperatures of 1.1 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 to 2010."

- Third draft of the Climate Science Special Report (NOAA and NASA are the lead authors).
- Will Saying "Climate Change" Be Banned At All Government Agencies Or Just Some Of Them?

Categories: ,

Eclipse Watching - NASA Style

By Keith Cowing on August 21, 2017 11:49 AM.

Categories:

SpaceX Delays Near Term Mars Plans

By Keith Cowing on August 19, 2017 2:05 PM.

SpaceX informed NASA of slowdown in its commercial Mars program, SpaceflightNow

"Confirming rumors and suspicions that SpaceX is adjusting its plans to begin dispatching robotic landers to Mars, NASA officials said the commercial space company has informed the agency that it has put its Red Dragon program on the back burner. Under the terms of a Space Act Agreement between NASA and SpaceX, the government agreed to provide navigation and communications services for the Red Dragon mission, which originally aimed to deliver an unpiloted lander to Mars in 2018. SpaceX confirmed earlier this year the launch of the experimental lander on a Falcon Heavy rocket had slipped to 2020."

- SpaceX Will Go To Mars Starting in 2018, earlier post
- NASA's SpaceX Mars Mission Briefing That NASA Is Not Telling You About, earlier post

Categories: ,

Acting NASA Deputy Administrator Lesa Roe Departing

By Keith Cowing on August 17, 2017 8:15 PM.

NASA power player will become new University of North Texas boss, Dallas News

"Thursday, University of North Texas regents are expected to select a longtime NASA leader to help launch the system into a new era of research and exploration. Lesa Roe will be announced as the sole finalist for the position of chancellor. Roe, who is currently acting as NASA's second in command, will replace longtime leader Lee Jackson, who is retiring after 15 years."

Categories: ,

New White House R&D Focus Does Not Include Mention of Space

By Keith Cowing on August 17, 2017 2:03 PM.

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2017/priority.wordcloud.jpg

FY 2019 Administration Research and Development Priorities, OMB

Keith's update: The only space-related priority is missile defense. That's it. Look at the word cloud (larger image) of the things this document says. It should be obvious what this Administration's focus is - and is not.

Categories:

NASA Technologist Unsure of Whether We're All Serious About Space

By Keith Cowing on August 17, 2017 1:33 PM.

Yes, it really has taken NASA 11 years to develop a parachute, Ars Technica

"After the Jacobs tour, I put this question to [NASA Acting Chief Technologist Douglas] Terrier. He did not flinch. "I think it's a very fair question," he said. "I think it's a very fair debate to ask if we as a nation are serious about this, and making it a priority. What we've enjoyed is a very constant level of support, but it's certainly not the Apollo or Manhattan-type project to crank this thing out in seven years." That is not to say that NASA, or its large contractor base, is less able than it was in the 1960s. Far from it, Terrier said. "I think it's important to realize that the team and the technology and manufacturing base is very capable of doing that, the moment someone flicks that switch. The speed at which we're moving is not limited by the capability of NASA or the contractors; it is limited by the resources and, frankly, the political emphasis."

Keith's update: Of course no one at NASA will entertain the counter argument that NASA has been dragging its feet while the real world passes it by. Just sayin'

Categories:

GAO Report On ICBM Motors For Commercial Launchers

By Keith Cowing on August 16, 2017 9:32 PM.

GAO: Surplus Missile Motors: Sale Price Drives Potential Effects on DOD and Commercial Launch Providers, GAO

"The Department of Defense (DOD) could use several methods to set the sale prices of surplus intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) motors that could be converted and used in vehicles for commercial launch if current rules prohibiting such sales were changed. One method would be to determine a breakeven price. Below this price, DOD would not recuperate its costs, and, above this price, DOD would potentially save. GAO estimated that DOD could sell three Peacekeeper motors--the number required for one launch, or, a "motor set"--at a breakeven price of about $8.36 million and two Minuteman II motors for about $3.96 million, as shown below. Other methods for determining motor prices, such as fair market value as described in the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board Handbook, resulted in stakeholder estimates ranging from $1.3 million per motor set to $11.2 million for a first stage Peacekeeper motor. The prices at which surplus ICBM motors are sold is an important factor for determining the extent of potential benefits and challenges of allowing the motors to be used for commercial launch."

Categories:

Lockheed Martin's Unfortunate Silence

By Keith Cowing on August 16, 2017 5:25 PM.

Here are the business leaders who are - and aren't - officially advising Trump, Business Insiders

CEOs of at least 3 major companies quit WH board over Trump Charlottesville response

"Thanks for checking in. We don't have a comment," said a spokesman for Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson."

As Trump disbanded advisory groups, this is who was in and who was out, CNBC

"Marillyn Hewson Lockheed Martin CEO No comment"

Categories:

Light Posting This Week

By Keith Cowing on August 15, 2017 6:22 PM.

Keith's note: Posting on NASAWatch will be rather light this week. I am taking a few days off. Among other things I will be getting a close-up look at the recently restored portrait of my great9 grandmother at the Yale Center for British Art.

Keith's update: Here are some pictures of me and my great^9 grandmother at Yale today.

Categories:

NASA's New Administrator and Deputy Administrator

By Keith Cowing on August 15, 2017 3:25 PM.

Keith's note: The exact date and venue for the formal announcement of these NASA leadership nominations has not been set. NASA HQ has liked to do events with a lot of pomp and flair so we'll see what they do for this announcement. Sources have told me that a post-Labor Day announcement was being planned but it may be moved up now. Or maybe it won't.

Looking at where NASA is - and where the Trump folks seem to want it to go - a pairing of Jim Bridenstine with John Schumacher make a lot of sense. Bridenstine's views seem to resonate well with a lot of what seems to be buzzing around inside the heads of TrumpSpace people. Schumacher has a long resume in senior positions at both NASA - so he'll give Bridenstine a lot of managerial support. Bridenstine has a lot of interest in emerging space commerce opportunities while Schumacher has a solid aerospace background - another way that their skillsets complement one another.

Commercial space is not going away. Neither is SLS. As such NASA will need to support both - hopefully in synergistic and complementary fashion. So the prudent thing to do was to select a team that can represent both camps and build a long term alliance between them. That is what this decision clearly seems to represent.

Sources: Trump administration has picked its NASA leader, Ars Technica

"NASA may finally be close to getting some clarity about its leadership during the Trump administration. On Tuesday, NASA Watch reported that the President will nominate US Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), as administrator and Aerojet Rocketdyne Vice President John Schumacher as deputy administrator. Both men have been rumored to be nominated for these posts in recent weeks, but there have been no official confirmations as yet."

Categories:

SpaceX Launches CRS12 Mission

By Marc Boucher on August 14, 2017 1:36 PM.

SpaceX Launches Cargo Resupply Mission to the Space Station (With multiple videos)

"Experiments seeking a better understanding of Parkinson's disease and the origin of cosmic rays are on their way to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft following today's 12:31 p.m. EDT launch."

"Carrying more than 6,400 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies, the spacecraft lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the company's 12th commercial resupply mission. It will arrive at the space station Wednesday, Aug. 16, at which time astronauts Jack Fischer of NASA and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) will use the space station's robotic arm to capture it."

Categories: ,

NASA Changes Paint Job on SLS Again

By Keith Cowing on August 11, 2017 12:17 PM.

NASA Announces New SLS Markings

"The markings on the outside of the complete boosters look like black-and-white checkerboards and serve as "targets" for cameras located in strategic locations on and around the vehicle and will be used for photogrammetry, the science of using photography to help measure distances between objects."

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2015/15-210-sls.jpgNASA Adopts Disco Era Paint Scheme for SLS, earlier post (2015)

"OK - the Core stage color makes sense. But why do the SRBs have a disco-era paint scheme - like you'd expect to see on a 70s muscle car? Does this make the rocket go faster or easier to track? Did the SLS program formally decide on this?"

http://images.spaceref.com/news/sls.130.jpgSLS, Saturn V, And Ares V Color Schemes, earlier post (2011)

"NASA PAO says that the white/black coloration of the SLS stages that evokes memories of the Saturn V is there for the same reason: to aid in tracking during ascent. ... despite the official PAO response, I am now told by several people at NASA with the utmost reliability and knowledge on this issue that the depiction of the SLS in Saturn V-esque paint scheme was done at the discretion of the graphic artist to evoke memories of the Saturn V. My understanding is that they will paint it - but what it will look like no one really knows."

Keith's note: Note that NASA does not even mention the official color scheme from 2015. After all that money has been spent to change the color of the rocket and pay graphic artists to produced animations and graphics which can no longer be used NASA comes up with yet another series of cartons depicting how the SLS will look. Let's see what next year's color scheme looks like - given all the delays in the SLS program this is not the last one we'll see.

Categories:

More stories for August.

Subscribe to NASA Watch

Loading


Monthly Archives




NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 22 August 2017 - Getting the Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass Investigation Ready

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 22 August 2017 - Getting the Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass Investigation Ready Video in Story

Overnight, robotics controllers extracted a new astrophysics experiment from the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. The Canadarm2 will hand off the new astronomy gear to the Japanese robotic arm which will then install it outside the Kibo laboratory module.

More updates...

PRSpacewire