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Rocket Scientists Are More Interesting Than PAO Talking Heads

By Keith Cowing on May 27, 2016 6:14 PM.


SpaceX Brings Yet Another First Stage Back To Earth

By Keith Cowing on May 27, 2016 5:53 PM.


Bigelow BEAM Fails To Inflate, Expand, Etc. (Update)

By Keith Cowing on May 27, 2016 3:21 PM.

Bigelow Module Fails First Expansion Attempt

"NASA is working closely with Bigelow Aerospace to understand why its module did not fully expand today as planned. Engineers are meeting at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to discuss a path forward for the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM)."

Packing for space flattened NASA's Space Hotel, New Scientist

"The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, was installed on the space station on 16 April and was supposed to be inflated on Thursday. But like a stubborn air mattress that stays flat, folds in the soft fabric kept it from expanding even as astronaut Jeff Williams tried to pump in air. In a 27 May teleconference, representatives from NASA and Bigelow Aerospace discussed what went wrong. "We went through a sequence, stepping up the pressure," said NASA's Jason Crusan. After some initial growth, the habitat stopped expanding even as pressure built up. "We ran into higher forces than our models predicted," he said."

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Sorry Gay People: Rep. Gohmert Says No Space Colonies For You

By Keith Cowing on May 26, 2016 9:33 PM.

Louie Gohmert: No Gay Space Colonies!, RightWing Watch (with video)

"[Rep. Louie Gohmert R-TX] said that if lawmakers had to decide "whether humanity would go forward or not" in case of an imminent asteroid collision by putting people in a "space ship that can go, as Matt Damon did in the movie, plant a colony somewhere, we can have humans survive this terrible disaster about to befall, if you could decide what 40 people you put on the spacecraft that would save humanity, how many of those would be same-sex couples? You're wanting to save humankind for posterity, basically a modern-day Noah, you have that ability to be a modern day Noah, you can preserve life. How many same-sex couples would you take from the animal kingdom and from humans to put on a spacecraft to perpetuate humanity and the wildlife kingdom?"

Keith's note: Yes, Congress is where smart people work in the 18th 21st Century to make life better for all some Americans.


NEOWISE Asteroid Named After A True Heroine

By Keith Cowing on May 26, 2016 10:02 AM.

Asteroid Named for Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai, NASA

"An asteroid discovered by NASA's NEOWISE spacecraft has been given the formal designation 316201 Malala, in honor of Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. The asteroid's previous appellation was 2010 ML48. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) renamed the asteroid as the request of Amy Mainzer of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. Mainzer is the principal investigator of NASA's NEOWISE space telescope."

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Rich Smart Guy Challenges NEOWISE Data (Update)

By Keith Cowing on May 26, 2016 9:31 AM.

Asteroid thermal modeling in the presence of reflected sunlight with an application to WISE/NEOWISE observational data,

"As a result, the new analysis finds asteroid diameter and other physical properties that have large differences from published NEOWISE results, with greatly increased error estimates. NEOWISE results have a claimed ±10% accuracy for diameter estimates, but this is unsupported by any calculations and undermined by irregularities in the NEOWISE results."

NASA Response to Recent Paper on NEOWISE Asteroid Size Results, NASA

"Examination of the paper by members of the science community studying near-Earth objects has found several fundamental errors in Myhrvold's approach and analysis- mistakes that an independent peer review process is designed to catch. The errors in the paper lead to results that are easily refuted, such as sizes for well-known asteroids that are significantly larger or smaller than their already-verified sizes. While critique and re-examination of published results are essential to the scientific process, it is important that any paper undergo peer review by an independent journal before it can be seriously considered. This completes a necessary step to ensure science results are independently validated, reproducible, and of value to the science community."

Billionaire technologist accuses NASA asteroid mission of bad statistics, Science

"Myhrvold retorts that he is fixing the errors, which he says are cosmetic and do not alter the thrust of his criticism. He says the NEOWISE scientists are defensive because many are involved in a proposal for a future asteroid-hunting telescope called NEOCam, one of five finalists in NASA's Discovery program. "They're up for this NEOCam thing and they're afraid it looks bad. And it does look bad," he says."

Repurposed NEOWISE Spacecraft Observes and Discovers Asteroids, earlier post

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Another Space Movie For Neil Tyson To Hate

By Keith Cowing on May 25, 2016 11:33 PM.

Keith's note: Uh oh. There's a spacecraft going the wrong way in this movie trailer. Neil Tyson will therefore hate all over it. Too bad. Although the plot seems to be pretty simplistic it might well resonate with a certain demographic - you know the young people who might grow up and actually go on the #JourneyToMars. There are NASA logos in the movie, so one would assume some level of cross-promotion by NASA. Categories: ,

CASIS Ignores More Cool News That It Paid For With NASA Money

By Keith Cowing on May 25, 2016 5:31 PM.

miniPCR announces first DNA amplification in space

"miniPCR announced the first successful DNA amplification on the International Space Station (ISS). Using a miniPCR thermal cycler, astronauts performed Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) on DNA samples on April 19th. Analysis performed today on Earth confirms that DNA amplification done in microgravity was successful, ushering in a new era in space exploration."

miniPCR, GenesInSpace

Keith's note: This is really cool news. But does CASIS make any mention of this major accomplishment on their website or @ISS_CASIS? Of course not.

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Both Rocket Fights - and Rocket Flights - Continue

By Keith Cowing on May 25, 2016 5:09 PM.

Senate Schism on Russian Rocket Engines Continues, Space Policy Online

"The Senate Appropriations Committee's Defense Subcommittee approved its version of the FY2017 defense appropriations bill today. Few details have been released, but in at least one area -- Russian RD-180 rocket engines -- the schism between Senate appropriators and authorizers seems destined to continue. The full appropriations committee will mark up the bill on Thursday."

As rocket wars wage in DC, a cautious move towards competition makes sense

"To ULA's credit, the company has successfully launched over 100 rockets without incident. But they've also been given vast resources to do so. For example, McCain refers to ULA's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) launch capability contract as "$800 million to do nothing." That's not exactly fair since the contract gives the Air Force tremendous launch flexibility, but $800 million a year to effectively be ready to launch seems tremendously generous."

SpaceX is about to attempt another extremely difficult landing, Business Insider

"SpaceX will once again attempt to land the first stage of the rocket on a drone ship in the Atlantic. SpaceX's track record for launches has been nearly flawless this year, with four successful launches and three successful landings (and retrievals!) of the first stage of the rockets. One of those successes took place on land in December; two more happened in April and May at sea. SpaceX will once again attempt to land the first stage of the rocket on a drone ship in the Atlantic."

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Why Does Brad Summey Hate On Elon Musk So Much? (Update)

By Keith Cowing on May 25, 2016 2:00 PM.

Mysterious website slams Elon Musk as 'American Swindler', Politico

"A mysterious new website has popped up accusing billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk of cronyism and inappropriate ties to top political leaders. But who, exactly, is behind the site remains unclear, as its sponsors have taken steps to hide their identities. The focal point of is a slickly produced video, posted just days ago, that slams Musk as an "American Swindler" and a "foreign-born" businessman who got rich off U.S. tax dollars. ... The website appears to have been designed by Orange Hat, an Alexandria-based firm. The firm promises to "utilize the most effective digital resources to engage and mobilize your target audience and drive measurable results." Keith Cowing, of the blog NASA Watch, first uncovered the connection to Orange Hat. Randy Skoglund, Orange Hat's managing partner, declined to comment on the anti-Musk website when contacted by phone Wednesday, and then hung up. Brad Summey, the firm's chief Technology officer, did not respond to requests for comment."

Earlier posting

Keith's update: Someone (or several people) are posting under anonymous names from the same IP at ULA today in Colorado reveling in the comments about Musk and SpaceX. This cloak and dagger stuff seems to play well outside the beltway as well.

Keith's note: I was reading an article on the The Hill tonight when this add popped up that sent me to which is an anonymous attack website dedicated to the notion that Elon Musk is the spawn of Satan or awful or something. At the bottom of the page the site says that it is paid for by "The Center for Business and Responsible Government (CBRG) is a non-partisan organization dedicated to highlighting cronyism and its effect on American taxpayers and policy. We believe public officials should establish an even playing field for all businesses to compete in the marketplace, not just those special interests who line their pockets." Of course no such group actually exists and and the domain registration information for is hidden.

So I did an old-fashioned "view Source" and looked around and found near the bottom which redirects to But goes to a holding page for Slade Technologies. The domain registration for with a contact name of Brad Summey - If you go to the domain registration details for Savage Jerky there is a contact name of Kenneth Summey - Both domains list a contact address of Savage Jerky Co., LLC 2133 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Rd Suite 12-405 Suwanee Georgia 30043.

If you Google "Brad Summey" (picture on the right) you see a linked in page - "Kb" Summey - I guess that's where "Kenneth" and "Brad" comes from. Brad Summey is CTO for Orange Hat Group, LLC - located at 950 N. Washington St #319 Alexandria, VA 22314. Looks like these guys do lots of political and issue-oriented stuff. Indeed if you go to this page at you will see that Kline for Congress Cmte (Rep. Kline R-MN) paid them $11,550 in 2014 and Friends of Erik Paulsen (R-MN) paid them $101,650 in 2013/2014. Hmm ... two members of Congress - both from Minnesota.

Oh yes, if you go to If you go to you will see that he retweets "RT @SavageJerky: Today's the day. We're giving a 6 month supply of jerky to a lucky follower on #SuperBowl Sunday. #jerky #giveaway http://@OrangeHatGroup 06:55pm, 01 Feb". So Orange Hat is into beef jerky too. You can also follow Brad on Twitter at @kbsummey.

So ... what does a guy who runs a beef jerky company in Georgia and is a CTO at an inside-the-beltway Internet/issues company (whose company does stuff for Minnesota republicans) have against Elon Musk? Maybe Brad will explain all of this to us - and who is paying for his website - because why not?

Keith's update: But wait there's more: These ads seem to be focused more on electric cars and green energy policy food fights people have with Elon Musk than they do on SpaceX per se. Its election time so, as they say, follow the money. By some coincidence, the Koch Industries (the Koch Brothers) gave Rep. Paulsen and Kline (the same two republican candidates from Minnesota that Orange Hat worked for in 2013-2014) $10,000 during the 2014 election cycle. FEC Form 3 statement) from Paulsen's campaign wherein Orange Hat was paid for ads and social media while the campaign mentions receiving $2,500 from Koch Industries PAC. Rightwing Watch noted that Conservative Ralph Reed's organization listed Jack St. Martin, Partner, Orange Hat Group as a speaker at a 2010 event.

There is an earlier, similarly-syled attack video posted on 8 December 2015 by Mike Ross that talks about "filthy hippies" buying solar panels in San Francisco and the oh-so-terrible Elon Musk "and his taxpayer subsidized companies." In this Huffington Post piece from 16 February 2016 "The Kochs Are Plotting A Multimillion-Dollar Assault On Electric Vehicles" There has also been the little matter of the Koch brothers and their fight against Musk over electric cars.

Use Google and these things just reveal themselves to you.

Bolden Wants Congress To Change Law On U.S./China Space Cooperation

By Keith Cowing on May 24, 2016 10:30 PM.

NASA Chief: Congress Should Revise US-China Space Cooperation Law, VOA

"Responding to questions Monday at an event hosted by the Mitchell Institute on Capitol Hill, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said the U.S. should pursue such a relationship with China in human space exploration. "We were in an incredible Cold War with the Soviets at the time we flew Apollo-Soyuz; it was because leaders in both nations felt it was time," he said. "That represented a great use of soft power, if you will. Look where we are today. I think we will get there [with China]. And I think it is necessary." Current law prohibits NASA from engaging with its Chinese counterparts on such projects. But Bolden, who will travel to Beijing later this year, says Congress should consider revising the law."

Previous China posts

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Pluto Has A Stamp But It's Not Sold With "Our Planets" Stamps

By Keith Cowing on May 24, 2016 4:49 PM.


Space Budget Action In The House Today

By Keith Cowing on May 24, 2016 4:40 PM.

Kilmer, Bridenstine Get Full Funding for FAA Space Office, Space Policy Online

"During markup of the FY2017 Transportation-HUD (T-HUD) appropriations bill today, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment to fully fund the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) at the requested level of $19.8 million. That is $1 million more than the T-HUD subcommittee recommended."

Full Committee Markup - FY 2017 Commerce, Justice, and Science Bill, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Bill, and Report on the Revised Interim Suballocation of Budget Allocations

- Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Approriations Bill 2007 (draft bill)
- Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Approriations Bill 2007 (draft report)

The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration Applauds House NASA Funding Bill, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration

"The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration (Coalition) applauds House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS) Chairman John Culberson, Ranking Member Mike Honda and the entire Appropriations Committee for its exceptional support for NASA's human and science exploration programs in its FY 2017 Appropriations bill, which boosts NASA funding to $19.5 billion. Like their counterparts in the Senate, the CJS Subcommittee has worked across the aisle to produce a bipartisan bill that ensures our space program receives the necessary funding to continue America's leadership in space."

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House Appropriators Seek To Defund Asteroid Mission - Push NASA To The Moon & Mars

By Keith Cowing on May 24, 2016 10:02 AM.

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Approriations Bill 2007 (draft report)

NASA begins on Page 54. On page 61 the report says:

"Mission to Mars. While the Committee recognizes the benefits of some of the technology that is under development as part of the asteroid redirect and retrieval missions, namely advanced propulsion technology research, asteroid deflection, and grappling technologies, the Committee believes that neither a robotic nor a crewed mission to an asteroid appreciably contribute to the over-arching mission to Mars. Further, the long-term costs of launching a robotic craft to the asteroid, followed by a crewed mission, are unknown and will divert scarce resources away from developing technology and equipment necessary for missions to Mars, namely deep space habitats, accessing and utilizing space resources, and developing entry, descent, landing, and ascent technologies.

Toward that end, no funds are included in this bill for NASA to continue planning efforts to conduct either robotic or crewed missions to an asteroid. Instead, NASA is encouraged to develop plans to return to the Moon to test capabilities that will be needed for Mars, including habitation modules, lunar prospecting, and landing and ascent vehicles.

Further, the Committee is supportive of NASA's efforts to use the International Space Station (ISS) to conduct research necessary to enable long-term human spaceflight, or ''Earth-reliant'' technology development; cis-lunar space activities, or ''proving ground'' efforts such as Orion flights on SLS in the vicinity of the Moon, and deployment and testing of deep space habitation modules; and finally, NASA's ''Earth independent'' activities which include using cis-lunar space as a staging area, mapping potential human exploration zones and caching samples on Mars as part of the Mars Rover 2020 mission."

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Congress Asks NASA To Consider Interstellar Travel Research

By Keith Cowing on May 23, 2016 6:14 PM.

U.S. lawmaker orders NASA to plan for trip to Alpha Centauri by 100th anniversary of moon landing, Science

"Representative John Culberson (R-TX), a self-professed space fan who chairs the House appropriations subpanel that oversees NASA, included the call for the ambitious voyage in a committee report released today. The report accompanies a bill setting NASA's budget for the 2017 fiscal year, which begins 1 October; the full House appropriations panel is set to consider the bill on Tuesday. In the report, Culberson's panel "encourages NASA to study and develop propulsion concepts that could enable an interstellar scientific probe with the capability of achieving a cruise velocity of 0.1c [10% of the speed of light]." The report language doesn't mandate any additional funding, but calls on NASA to draw up a technology assessment report and conceptual road map within 1 year."

- Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Approriations Bill 2007 (draft report)
- Announcing "Breakthrough Starshot": Building Earth's First Starships, earlier post

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Bigelow Aerospace BEAM Status

Bigelow Aerospace BEAM Status

NASA is working closely with Bigelow Aerospace to understand why its module did not fully expand today as planned.

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