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Dava Newman Confirmation - Soon?

By Keith Cowing on April 23, 2015 8:46 PM.

NASA May Get New Deputy Administrator Next Week, Space Policy Online

"Senate Democrats announced today that agreement has been reached for the Senate to consider Dava Newman's nomination to be NASA Deputy Administrator on Monday, April 27. Newman would replace Lori Garver, who left the agency in September 2013. The Senate Democrats' website says that 30 minutes of debate on the nomination will begin at 5:00 pm ET divided equally between the parties. If all that time is used, the vote would occur at 5:30 pm ET. The Senate has been gridlocked on approving nominations for weeks because of a dispute between Republicans and Democrats over abortion language in a bill on human trafficking that held up a vote on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General."

Is Dava Newman's Nomination In Limbo?, earlier post

"With impending food fights in the Republican-led Congress, such routine things as nominations may be stalled - or (worse) may become opportunities to score partisan points agains the Administration - with the nominee taking the brunt of the negative energy."

- Earlier posts

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Stunning Imagery from Hubble

By Keith Cowing on April 23, 2015 10:06 AM.

Celestial Fireworks Celebrate Hubble's 25th Anniversary (With Amazing Video)

"This glittering tapestry of young stars exploding into life in a dramatic fireworks display has been released today to celebrate 25 incredible years of the Hubble Space Telescope. The NASA/ESA Hubble was launched into orbit by the Space Shuttle on 24 April 1990. It was the first space telescope of its kind, and has surpassed all expectations, providing a quarter of a century of discoveries, stunning images and outstanding science."

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Rep. Rogers Hates Everything Russian - Except Russian Rocket Engines

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2015 4:58 PM.

There is a markup session tomorrow at 12:00 pm EDT with the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Markup. It certainly looks like Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) is trying to slip in language that would allow more Russian-built RD-180 engines to be purchased using tax dollars at the same time when Rogers is (otherwise) actively promoting policies that would punish the exact same sector of Russia's economy for actions in Ukraine and Iran, treaty violations, and other bad behavior.

Continue reading: Rep. Rogers Hates Everything Russian - Except Russian Rocket Engines.

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3,009 Words In Scott Kelley's Trivia From Space Contest Rules

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2015 3:14 PM.

NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly Kicks Off Geography Trivia from Space

Keith's note:Have you seen any of Scott Kelly's photos (in high resolution) on the official NASA Flickr page? You won't. He only posts low resolution versions on Twitter at @StationCDRKelly. He's calling his own shots on all of this PR from orbit. He makes the decision - not NASA PAO - as to what taxpayers do and do not see. Too bad - some of his pictures are rather stunning. This whole special project is being set up just for him. He's apparently only going to post one picture a week in contrast to his fellow crew members who have posted hundreds.

The rules behind this contest are hilarious - all 3,009 words. Read them here. I can only imagine what it will cost the agency to actually enforce these rules or to adjudicate complaints by participants who feel that they have been incorrectly denied a prize.

Is a contest like this a good idea? Of course it is. But if the public gets fewer pictures from space? That is a bad idea. Has NASA come up with the most complex way possible to do this? Of course it has.

3,009 words in the rules - and all we'll get are 50 or so pictures?

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Does Michoud Have Welding Issues?

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2015 11:14 AM.

Incorrectly Built SLS Welding Machine To Be Rebuilt, Slashdot

"A giant welding machine, built for NASA's multi-billion dollar Space Launch System (SLS), has to be taken apart and rebuilt because the contractor failed to reinforce the floor, as required, prior to construction: "Sweden's ESAB Welding & Cutting, which has its North American headquarters in Florence, South Carolina, built the the roughly 50-meter tall Vertical Assembly Center as a subcontractor to SLS contractor Boeing at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. ESAB was supposed to reinforce Michoud's floor before installing the welding tool, but did not, NASA SLS Program Manager Todd May told SpaceNews after an April 15 panel session during the 31st Space Symposium here. As a result, the enormous machine leaned ever so slightly, cocking the rails that guide massive rings used to lift parts of the 8.4-meter-diameter SLS stages The rings wound up 0.06 degrees out of alignment, which may not sound like much, "but when you're talking about something that's 217 feet [66.14 meters] tall, that adds up," May said."

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Bill Nye: Do As I Say Not As I Do

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2015 11:12 AM.

Keith's note: Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye (The Science Guy®) is certainly having fun these days. I guess its perfectly normal to brag about getting a flight on Air Force One (I'm absolutely certain that I would too) but when you are flying on a 747 that only carries a small number of people (carbon footprint anyone?) for an Earth Day event, and then you take others to task on environmental and scientific issues, well ... this wins the NASAWatch clueless Tweet of the day award.

And yes, yes, yes, the plane would have flown anyway and if Nye did not sit in one of the seats then someone else would have and the carbon footprint would have remained the same. For all we know Nye reimbursed the government for the actual full cost of his seat and has personally sequestered enough carbon in the ground or bought carbon credits to make this trip carbon neutral. But since he's all about being in the spotlight, wouldn't a more useful public thing for The Science Guy® Nye focus on something that anyone, anywhere could do to protect our environment - one that did not include selfie opportunities on Air Force One? Just wondering. That's what Earth Day used to be about.

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NASA's Secret Past

By Keith Cowing on April 21, 2015 11:42 AM.

NASA's Secret Relationships with U.S. Defense and Intelligence Agencies, George Washington University

"Furnishing cover stories for covert operations, monitoring Soviet missile tests, and supplying weather data to the U.S. military have been part of the secret side of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) since its inception in 1958, according to declassified documents posted for the first time today by the National Security Archive at The George Washington University."

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More NASA Strategic Plan Vaporware

By Keith Cowing on April 20, 2015 1:09 PM.

Goddard Implementation Plan in Response to the 2014 NASA Strategic Plan

"NASA Headquarters in Washington released the latest version of its strategic plan in 2014. Strategic planning is a dynamic process that is continually taking shape within large agencies, and NASA is no exception. In response to the strategic plan, which presented a significant shift in NASA's expression of its goals and objectives, Goddard leadership recognized the need to update the center's 2004 implementation plan to show how our current work aligns with the agency's latest strategy."

Committee Leaders: Space Exploration Must Be NASA's Priority, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

"Unfortunately, the last six years featured drastic change with the cancellation of Constellation and uncertain direction with the president's ever-changing asteroid initiative. Congress has been consistent in its guidance to NASA that it develop a long-term sustainable exploration strategy that is evolvable and flexible based on an uncertain budget environment."

NASA's Strategic Plan Isn't Strategic - or a Plan, earlier post

"This thing reads like an annual report - there is no "plan" in this strategic plan. The authors are utterly confused as to what a "goal", "objective", and "strategy" are and confusingly use the terms interchangeably. It is almost as if they say "it is important that we do what we are doing because we are already doing it"."

Keith's note: And now GSFC has taken the time to develop a plan to implement this confusing non-strategic non-plan. I can't wait to see how they measure their progress.

NASA Strategic Plan 2014

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Running Out Of Rockets

By Keith Cowing on April 20, 2015 10:41 AM.

Before decade is out all US military satellites may be grounded, The Hill

"Today, the launch infrastructure of the United States National Security Space (NSS) -- comprised of the Department of Defense (DoD), the Services and the Intelligence Community (IC) -- is teetering on the edge of a gap in capability which, in less than five years, could mean no capacity to launch the bulk of critical national security missions for as long as ten years. We are close to retiring our existing fleet of launch vehicles without new ones to assure our access to space."

Russia Threatens U.S. Space Program, CNN

"The short-term goal should be to transition to existing American-manufactured launch vehicles, as opposed to phasing out systems such as the Delta IV, which continue to provide critical capability. In the long term, next-generation development programs should not involve major Russian subsystems and components."

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NASA.gov Upgrades Now Online

By Keith Cowing on April 20, 2015 10:18 AM.

Welcome to the New NASA.gov

"Based on extensive user feedback and testing, we've modernized NASA.gov to work across all devices and screen sizes, eliminate visual clutter, and put the focus on the continuous flow of news updates, images and videos we know you're looking for. We've simplified our image and video galleries to emphasize viewing and sharing the content, and organized that content around NASA's areas of work, like the Journey to Mars and exploration of the Solar System and Beyond. And we've made the content more "discoverable," by connecting features and images to related content through an "infinite scroll" of similar content and clickable topic labels that take you to pages with more related content."

Keith's note: Many people just type "nasa.gov" in their browser - like I do. Try that and see what happens - or click here: http://nasa.gov/. Some (but not all) browsers automatically add "www".

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Is the NASA OIG Online Hotline Secure?

By Keith Cowing on April 17, 2015 9:05 AM.

Why confidential tips to the government may not be confidential after all, Washington Post

"Got a hot tip about federal waste, fraud or corruption? You should think twice about using the government's own online systems for collecting such complaints. Many of them promise confidentiality but for years have sent sensitive data - including names, addresses and phone numbers of whistleblowers, as well as the details of their allegations - across the Internet in a way that could be intercepted by hackers or snoops. Or, perhaps worse still, by the agencies named in the complaints".

NASA OIG CyberHotline

Keith's note: No mention of encryption at the NASA IG website - or with the hotline - note that the URL is NOT https://oig.nasa.gov/cyberhotline.html

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View From The Barge as Falcon 1st Stage Lands

By Keith Cowing on April 16, 2015 3:39 PM.

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NASA FY 2016 Budget Hearings

By Keith Cowing on April 16, 2015 11:56 AM.

House Hearing: Overview of NASA FY 2016 Budget Proposal

- Hearing Charter
- Testimony by NASA Administrator Bolden NASA FY 2016 House Budget Hearing
- Statement of Chairman Lamar Smith Hearing on NASA's FY2016 Budget Request
-Statement of Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo Hearing on NASA's FY2016 Budget Request
- Subcommittee Reviews the NASA Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2016, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Democrats
- Committee Leaders: Space Exploration Must Be NASA's Priority, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

CJS Subcommittee Hearing on FY2016 NASA Budget Request

"Witness: Mr. Charles F. Bolden, Jr.Administrator National Aeronautics and Space Administration Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 2:30pm"

- Statement of Charles Bolden: Senate Hearing on NASA FY 2016 Budget
- Balancing Act: Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on FY 2016 NASA Request, AIP

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Orbital ATK Vs Aerojet over Antares Explosion Cause

By Keith Cowing on April 15, 2015 9:04 PM.

Orbital, GenCorp spar over cause of October rocket crash, Reuters

"Orbital ATK Inc and engine maker GenCorp Inc on Tuesday offered competing explanations for what caused the Oct. 28 explosion of Orbital's Antares rocket, bound for the International Space Station. Ronald Grabe, Orbital's executive vice president and president of its flight systems group, told the annual Space Symposium conference that an investigation led by his company had concluded the explosion was caused by excessive wear in the bearings of the GenCorp engine. GenCorp said its own probe showed that the wear in the bearings was likely caused by debris in the engine."

Report: Environmental impact of Wallops explosion, DelMarva Now

"Despite initial concerns, and ash that rained down in the area, a final report on the environmental impact of the explosion shows only two recommendations moving forward -- a groundwater study, and possible continued monitoring. The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority report also details the steps taken after the explosion to contain any adverse impacts. While Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper Jay Ford said he was concerned immediately following the explosion, he was impressed with the federal reaction."

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SpaceX Launch You Up (It's Now Your Turn @ToryBruno)

By Keith Cowing on April 15, 2015 1:47 PM.

Keith's note: YouTube has flagged this video on copyright grounds. The creators tell me that they are working the issue and that it should be working again now.

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