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Bringing An Old Spacecraft Back To Life (Update - video, news)

By Keith Cowing on April 24, 2014 11:45 PM.

How to Resurrect a 35-Year-Old Spacecraft, Popular Mechanics

"Wingo and Cowing started a RocketHub crowdfunding effort to raise $125,000 for the mission. They've also been hunting for the right parts to get the communications systems back online. "I was Dumpster diving at a storage unit with Bob Farquhar last week, pulling stuff out of boxes, and I FedExed a $200 overnight box to California," Cowing says. And like they did with the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, they've been able to tap in to the expertise of the original mission specialists, as well as a robust online community that seems quite adept at making the right documents appear when they're needed."

Crowdfunding the recovery of a lost spacecraft, Make: Magazine

"The hackers behind the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project have moved on to a different challenge. Not content with images, this time they want to recover a whole spacecraft. The ISEE-3 probe was launched in 1978."

Crowdfunding project aims to bring a forgotten space probe back to life, Engadget

"Good news is, the team is led by Dennis Wingo and Keith Cowing, who have some serious credentials under their belt. These long-time collaborators head the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, which digitizes analog data tapes from unmanned lunar orbiters sent to space in the 1960's. Also, Wingo is the founder of Skycorp, which has developed equipment for NASA and DARPA in the past, while Cowing is former NASA employee."

Group Wants To Recover 36-Year-Old Historic Spacecraft From Deep Space, Slashdot

"A band of space hackers and engineers are trying to do something never done before -- recover a 36 year old NASA spacecraft from the grips of deep space and time. With old NASA documents and Rockethub crowdfunding, a team led by Dennis Wingo and Keith Cowing is attempting to steer ISEE-3, later rechristened ICE, the International Cometary Explorer, back into an Earth orbit and return it to scientific operations."

Unique Broadband Systems Ltd. Provides Transmitter to the ISEE-3 Reboot Project

"Unique Broadband Systems Ltd. has agreed to loan our project a 700 watt transmitter. This hardware normally lists for over $200,000.  Use of this equipment by the ISEE-3 Reboot Project marks a substantial increase in capability. This transmitter will be attached to the 21-meter space antenna at Morehead State University as part of our effort to contact and command ISEE-3."

Keith's update: Our team member Mike Loucks at Space Exploration Engineering has produced this video showing how ISEE-3 will be returned to a useful orbit. You can view the video here.

ISEE-3 Reboot Project

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SpaceX Ready for Raptor Engine Components Testing at Stennis

By Marc Boucher on April 24, 2014 8:27 AM.

SpaceX Set to Test Raptor Engine Components at NASA Stennis, SpaceRef Business

"SpaceX has been working on the Raptor methane-fueled rocket engine since 2009. The new engine, a reusable engine is destined to be used in future versions of the Falcon Heavy and in the long term for the notional SpaceX Mars Colonial Transporter.

Testing is set to begin within the coming days after the E-2 test stand activation is completed a spokesperson for SpaceX confirmed to SpaceRef."

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They're Still Drinking The Koolaid in Texas

By Keith Cowing on April 23, 2014 8:05 PM.

Houston's Space Problem: Johnson Space Center Has Lost Its Identity and Purpose, Houston Press

"However, former astronaut Bonnie Dunbar, now also a UH professor, argued that SpaceX and commercial flight are being touted as a solution but that the money being diverted from NASA to fund these endeavors will cost space exploration in the long run. "Industry is not poised to do the kind of research and development we need to do for space exploration," she said."

Keith's note: This is typical of the pervasive ignorance that surrounds NASA - and it comes from decades of drinking the Koolaid. Bonnie Dunbar clearly has no idea what other commerical launches SpaceX has (or its long manifest backlog), how much private capital has been invested in SpaceX, or even the nature of what SpaceX does for NASA. It doesn't do the research that she's so worried about. It hauls groceries. Someday it will fly Texans. What these people do up there - with that cargo - is NASA's call. They are buying a ride. Given the $500 million to $1 billion cost per launch of a shuttle, this is a bargain no matter how you look at it.

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Recovering Space History Inside an Old McDonalds

By Keith Cowing on April 23, 2014 4:40 PM.

The Hackers Who Recovered NASA's Lost Lunar Photos, Wired

"Sitting incongruously among the hangars and laboratories of NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley is the squat facade of an old McDonald's. You won't get a burger there, though-its cash registers and soft-serve machines have given way to old tape drives and modern computers run by a rogue team of hacker engineers who've rechristened the place McMoon's. These self-described techno-archaeologists have been on a mission to recover and digitize forgotten photos taken in the '60s by a quintet of scuttled lunar satellites. The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Progject has since 2007 brought some 2,000 pictures back from 1,500 analog data tapes. They contain the first high-resolution photographs ever taken from behind the lunar horizon, including the first photo of an earthrise (first slide above). Thanks to the technical savvy and DIY engineering of the team at LOIRP, it's being seen at a higher resolution than was ever previously possible."

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After Half a Century Space Advocacy/Policy Is Broken

By Keith Cowing on April 23, 2014 10:23 AM.

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Clash of the Titans

By Keith Cowing on April 23, 2014 10:16 AM.

Musk and Gass Go Toe-to-Toe in Q&A, SpaceNews

"Musk and Gass appeared March 5 before the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee to answer lawmakers' questions and, in an unusual twist, were given the opportunity to submit written questions to one another and provide answers back to the panel. Neither side landed a knockout blow, but the exchange was illuminating nonetheless."

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Humans to Mars: Show Me The Money

By Keith Cowing on April 23, 2014 9:46 AM.

NASA's lofty goal of a manned Mars mission doesn't match budget reality , opinion, Washington Post

... But our current trajectory won't get us there anyway; estimates of the cost of a human trip to Mars run into the hundreds of billions. "We're going to have to figure out ingenious ways to do it based on the present budget plus modest increases," Bolden said at the summit. Or maybe more than modest. William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration, told the same audience of the need to "break the paradigm" of current funding. "We cannot do it at the same budget level we're at today. It's just not going to work."

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Money Saved By Canceling Missions Usually Just Disappears

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2014 10:57 PM.

NASA's Extended Science Missions in Peril, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"We do not yet know how the Senior Review will turn out. NASA is famous for wanting to "move on" to the next thing and often abandons working spacecraft. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush but as things currently stand, there isn't much in the mission pipeline to move on to. Planetary Science has taken several massive budgetary hits in the past few years, with more on the way. The termination of LRO and MER will not help move new missions off the drawing board. Money not spent on these extended missions will probably slide into SMD's Black Hole of Funding (the James Webb Space Telescope) or be dissipated on new paperwork, committee meetings and concept studies. It would be both fiscally prudent and programmatically responsible for NASA to fund and retain these working and still productive extended missions."

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Bolden Talks Mars at Humans 2 Mars Summit

By Marc Boucher on April 22, 2014 9:38 PM.

NASA Administrator Discusses Getting Humans to Mars [Watch], NASA

"Administrator Charles Bolden outlined NASA's human exploration path to Mars during a keynote address at the April 22 Humans to Mars Summit 2014, held at George Washington University in Washington."

Marc's note: Bolden didn't say anything that we haven't heard before. He talked about the need for humanity to become a multi-planet species for survival and that the audience needs to face facts that we're in a very constraining budget period.

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Earth Before Earth Day

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2014 3:16 PM.

Earth Before Earth Day

"Long before man journeyed to the moon and looked back at the tiny, fragile planet that houses humanity, remote orbiters were sending back pictures of home. Sent to scope out potential landing sites on the Moon, the series of five Lunar Orbiters also sent back the earliest views of Earth from another celestial body. This image, taken in 1966 by Lunar Orbiter 1, is among the first views of Earth from the Moon. In the black-and-white image, a crescent Earth floats majestically behind the lumpy surface of the Moon."

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Asteroid Threat Press Conference Today

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2014 1:12 PM.

B612 Foundation Earth Day Impact Video, Press Conference and Webcast

"The B612 Foundation will hold a press conference today which will be webcast from the Seattle Museum of Flight today. The press conference will feature the following new video of data from a nuclear-test-ban-treaty organization showing multiple atomic-bomb-scale asteroid impacts on Earth since 2001. You can watch the press conference below starting at 2:30 p.m. EDT."

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NASA's GlobalSelfie Event Is Just About Selfies

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2014 11:33 AM.

Keith's note: @NASASocial is retweeting lots of selfies today (this is one of the ones they decided to retweet). Instead of trying to raise issues relevant to Earth Day, NASA is turning the #Globalselfie thing into posting selfies of people and their pets. They could have easily tweeted a little guidance to people and ask them to highlight issues that affect Earth, the environment, climate change. They could also post links to specific projects that NASA is doing in this regard ... or organizations working to address these issues - but no, that takes strategic thought.  Why think too hard, @NASASocial? Just post selfies.

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Trash Talking Amongst Space Cargo Providers

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2014 9:46 AM.

Keith's note: You know that there is indeed a "there" there vis-a-vis the viability of space commerce when companies start trash talking their competitor's products.

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NASA Pays Half a Billion To A Country It Is Trying to Ignore

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2014 8:33 AM.

Despite sanctions, Russia is getting a $457.9M check from NASA, Washington Post

"Despite ongoing sanctions, Russia is about to get a big infusion of cash from the U.S. government. NASA recently renewed a contract that allows Russia to ferry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station. The U.S. is, essentially, cutting Russia a $457.9 million check for its services -- six seats on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, training and launch prep, landing and crew rescue and limited cargo delivery to and from the International Space Station. This contract also adds additional support at the Russian launch site. NASA has announced it is cutting some contacts with Russia after the country annexed Crimea, including meetings and teleconferences."

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Maximizing Dawn's Scientific Mission at Ceres

By Keith Cowing on April 21, 2014 4:40 PM.

Maximizing Dawn's Scientific Mission at Ceres: SBAG Report

"At the last SBAG meeting, it was implied that the Dawn at Vesta Participating Scientist Program had not been fully successful. To gain insight into the issue, SBAG undertook a confidential survey of all the U.S. Dawn at Vesta Participating Scientists, receiving responses from 15 of 18 individuals. A sixteenth person did not want to participate. Responses ranged from extremely positive to deeply negative. The details provided indicated no hesitance on the part of the respondents to voice their opinion and provide specifics. Overall, 9 indicated very positive and productive experiences, 4 both positive and negative, and 2 deeply negative. 12 of the 15 respondents would propose to a Dawn at Ceres Participating Scientist Program. While some participating scientists had serious issues, the SBAG survey did not find evidence that the Dawn at Vesta Participating Scientist Program would offer a basis for not proceeding with a Dawn at Ceres Participating Scientist Program."

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More stories for April.


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