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NASA's Sloppy FY 2014 Agency Financial Report

By Keith Cowing on November 26, 2014 12:02 PM.

NASA FY 2014 Agency Financial Report"Audit of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Statements (IG-15-006, November 14, 2014) The Office of Inspector General contracted with the independent public accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) to audit NASA's fiscal year (FY) 2014 financial statements. PwC performed the audit in accordance with the Government Accountability Office's Government Auditing Standards and the Office of Management and Budget's Bulletin No. 14-02, "Audit Requirements for Federal Financial Statements."

Keith's note: Much of this report was assembled rather sloppily starting with page 107. It gets really bad starting on page 147. The words are not words - just fuzzy images of text - not actual text. its like they scanned a document that had been copied 5 or 6 times and then faxed. I'd be willing to bet that large portions of this document are not Section 508 compliant. Things improve after page 160. You'd think that NASA would spend a little more time to make the document legible. in addition, due to the fact that a substantial portion of this report is not text searchable - and that the fuzzy text pictures almost certainly cannot be run through an OCR program, there are certain Open Government non-compliance issues as well.

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Synchronizing Calendars at NASA

By Keith Cowing on November 26, 2014 11:42 AM.

- NASA Advisory Council Human Exploration and Operations Committee - Meeting Postponement
- NASA Advisory Council Science Committee - Meeting Postponement
- NASA Advisory Council - Meeting Postponement

"The meeting is being postponed by NASA due to exceptional circumstances and schedule conflicts of the NASA top leadership in connection with post-launch programmatic requirements of the Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT- 1) on December 4, 2014, at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida."

Keith's note: The original notices for these NAC meetings were posted in the Federal Register 1-2 weeks ago. How many months has everyone known that EFT-1 was going to be launched on 4 December 2014? Just wondering. There's an app for things like this.

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NASA is Fixing Year 2000 Compliance in Year 2014

By Keith Cowing on November 25, 2014 1:47 PM.

Federal Acquisition Regulation; Year Format, NASA

"DoD, GSA, and NASA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register at 79 FR 16274 on March 25, 2014. No public comments were submitted. The final rule makes no changes from the proposed rule. DoD, GSA, and NASA are amending the FAR to delete obsolete coverage relating to the year 2000 compliance at FAR 39.002, 39.101(a) and 39.106. Also, the rule makes conforming changes to FAR 39.107 and the introductory text to the clause at FAR 52.239-1. The year 2000 coverage is outdated, and no longer needed because all of the issues addressing the transition to year 2000 compliance language have been resolved."

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Lewis Peach

By Keith Cowing on November 25, 2014 12:03 PM.

Keith's note: Sources report that Lewis Peach has died. Lew was always working on interesting things. Always. Ad astra.

"Lewis Peach died on Nov. 22 at his home in Arnold. He retired from Senior Executive Service at NASA where he served as Project Manager in the Office of Space Flight, and the NASA Academy for program/Project and Engineering Leadership. He was a vice-president for exploration/development at USRA. Lewis began his career at NASA's Ames Research Center. He was a board member of Hawaii's Pisces space program and was a Vietnam veteran."

More arrangement information below

Continue reading: Lewis Peach.

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NASA Wants To Be More Efficient. Just Kidding.

By Keith Cowing on November 25, 2014 12:47 AM.

Earth and Life Sciences, Aircraft Ops Under Microscope in NASA Consolidation Effort, Space News

"NASA's latest attempt to right-size its 10 U.S. field centers will begin with a focus on a roughly $3 billion cross-section of the agency's nearly $18 billion budget that could affect some 10,000 civil servants and contractors, a senior agency official said here Nov. 20. .. Roe, former director of NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, is co-leading NASA's Technical Capabilities Assessment Team (TCAT) along with her boss, NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot. TCAT began in 2012 but will not be in full force until after February, when NASA plans to appoint so-called capabilities leaders to monitor its 10 field centers and point out areas where two or more centers are spending money on the same things."

Keith's note: Once a decade (maybe more than once) NASA spins up an effort like this (Zero Base Review, Synthesis Team, Faster Better Cheaper, ISO 9000 etc.) The team members semi-earnestly look for overlaps and synergies, suggest how to re-tune things, and then ... (dramatic pause) all of the field centers promptly ignore the recomendations - backed by their respective congressional delegations - because: why change? We've seen this movie before. As such, you can ignore any and all "efficiency" TCAT babble from Robert Lightfoot and Lesa Roe - since the White House no longer cares about that babble (hey - where's Charlie?)

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Putin-backed RD-180 Markup Scheme Unveiled

By Keith Cowing on November 25, 2014 12:27 AM.

In murky Pentagon deal with Russia, big profit for a tiny Florida firm, reuters

"For months, a powerful U.S. senator has been pushing for details of a murky deal under which a Russian manufacturer supplies the rocket engines used to launch America's spy satellites into space. At issue: how much the U.S. Air Force pays for the engines, how much the Russians receive, and whether members of the elite in President Vladimir Putin's Russia are secretly profiting by inflating the price. Now, documents uncovered by Reuters provide some answers. A tiny Florida-based company, acting as a middleman in the deal, is marking up the price by millions of dollars per engine. That five-person company, RD Amross, is a joint venture of Russian engine maker NPO Energomash and a U.S. partner, aerospace giant United Technologies. According to internal company documents that lay out the contract, Amross stands to collect $93 million in cost mark-ups under its current multi-year deal to supply the RD-180 rocket engine."

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NASA Announces a Challenge Before It Announces the Challenge

By Keith Cowing on November 24, 2014 4:21 PM.

Keith's note: NASA has posted Notice of Centennial Challenges Cube Quest Challenge in today's Federal Register. $5,000,000 to send a cubesat to the Moon. Very cool. The notice says "To register for or get additional information regarding the Cube Quest Challenge, please visit: http://www.nasa.gov/cubequestchallenge" If you visit that link you will get an error notice from NASA.gov.

I told NASA that the link was broken. Their response was "The link will not be live until the December 1 announcement.  CCP had planned to rollout the Challenge earlier this month, but HQ recommended to delay for two weeks.  The link will work once the site becomes active."

I replied "You really should tell people that in the notice that the link is not going to be active.  Now everyone will click on it and then lose interest after seeing that it is broken day after day. I am baffled as to why you put the notice out in the first place knowingly  including a link that does not work - without any notice to the public that the link is intentionally inactive until a future date.  Indeed the notice also says "The Cube Quest (CQ) Challenge is scheduled and teams that wish to  compete may now register."  However the next sentence contradicts this statement by saying "Challenge registration opens December 2, 2014".  So which is it: "now register" or "opens December 2, 2014"?  What is especially baffling is why such a confusing and deliberately inaccurate Federal Register notice is posted when it concerns a rather substantial  $5,000,000 NASA Challenge. One would think that a little strategic and editorial thought would be given to such a significant announcement."

Keith's update: I got this update from NASA MSFC. Odd that they think that the Federal Register has a "limited audience" given that it serves a vital role for a multi-trillion dollar government for a nation of over 300 million people. "In developing such a large Challenge, we wanted to be sure to promote it using the best audience available. HQ decided that the Challenge would get more attention during the events leading up to the Orion Launch. The Federal Register has a limited audience, whereas millions will be watching the first Orion launch. This is the largest NASA Prize Purse and first competition in space. CCP seeks innovations from diverse and non-traditional sources of citizen inventors, private businesses, and academia. NASA HQ wanted to promote this opportunity to the largest audience possible, not just to those within the aerospace industry."

Oh yes - the link works now (http://www.nasa.gov/cubequestchallenge/) They also issued a press release late today - several weeks earlier than (I guess) they had planned to do so. Since no one reads the Federal Register, right?

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More People Leave Earth for Space

By Keith Cowing on November 23, 2014 9:49 PM.

Expedition 42 Launches on Time to International Space Station

"The Soyuz TMA-15M launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 4:01 p.m. EST (3:01 a.m. on Nov. 24 Baikonur time). Terry Virts of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency now are safely in orbit."

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More HSPD-12 Abuses at JPL

By Keith Cowing on November 21, 2014 2:33 PM.

A Question of Loyalty, Pasadena Weekly

"Over the past eight months, Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Cate Heneghan said she has been dealing with what she considers to be an abuse of authority by NASA, which has been trying to force her to sign what amounts to a loyalty oath -- asking intrusive questions about her allegiance to the United States. Heneghan, who was born and raised in Bethesda, Md., studied at New Mexico State and USC and has dual citizenship with Ireland, argues that the questions do not conform to NASA guidelines. "How is it JPL is implementing these questions beyond the adjudicative standard, which is required in HSPD-12?" asked Heneghan, who does concept development design for NASA missions and has been at JPL for 26 years. "No one can answer that question."

Earlier HSPD-12 postings

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Goresat Gets Closer To Launch

By Keith Cowing on November 20, 2014 12:41 PM.

DSCOVR Mission Passes Major Milestones

"NOAA will manage the DSCOVR mission, giving advanced warning of approaching solar storms. NASA, funded by NOAA, refurbished the DSCOVR satellite and instruments, which were in storage for several years. The U.S. Air Force is funding and overseeing the launch of DSCOVR, which will be aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket."

Keith's note: In storage for "several years"? It would be more accurate to say "for more than a decade".

- DSCOVR/Triana/Goresat Is Ready For Launch, earlier post
- Earlier DSCOVR/Triana/Goresat posts

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NASA's Plan For Mars Is To Have No Plan for Mars

By Keith Cowing on November 20, 2014 9:49 AM.

How NASA Plans to Land Humans on Mars, Planetary Society

"On the surface, NASA's humans to Mars plans seem vague and disjointed. For instance, it's difficult to see how visiting a captured asteroid in lunar orbit fits into a bigger picture. But if you combine Gerst's speech with two days of symposium panels and a day of interviews at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, the full breadth of what the agency is trying to do begins to makes sense. There is indeed a plan to put humans on Mars. Vague? Yes. Hard to see? Absolutely. But that's because Gerst and NASA are playing the long game. And right now, it may be the only game they can play."

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Fixing Wallops (Update)

By Keith Cowing on November 19, 2014 7:53 PM.

State assessing damage, considering future of commercial spaceport, WDBJ7

"Virginia's Secretary of Transportation says it could take a year and up to $20 million to repair the commercial spaceport on Virginia's Eastern Shore, after a mishap damaged the launchpad last month. Aubrey Layne says he expects the flights to resume, but with additional protections for Virginia taxpayers. "We do need to have our launch partner and the federal government take responsibility with us in this particular incident," Layne told WDBJ7."

McAuliffe wants risks shared for future rocket launches at Wallops Island, Times Dispatch

"We're not going to have a repeat of this in the future," said Secretary of Transportation Aubrey L. Layne Jr., who is a board member of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority, which owns the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island. Layne confirmed Tuesday that the McAuliffe administration may seek to renegotiate the memorandum of understanding and launch services agreement with Orbital that the state revised substantially in 2012 under the administration of then-Gov. Bob McDonnell."

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SLS Has a New Name: Boeing Space Launch System

By Keith Cowing on November 19, 2014 12:34 PM.

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ATK and Orbital Still Plan To Tie The Knot

By Keith Cowing on November 19, 2014 12:28 PM.

ATK and Orbital Continue to Support Plans for Merger

"Following this announcement on October 28, 2014, a failure occurred during Orbital's Antares launch.  Since the incident, the companies have conducted a thorough review and analysis of the launch failure and Orbital's proposed recovery plan and long-term competitive position.  Following this review, ATK's board of directors continues to support the strategic merits of the transaction and recommends that ATK stockholders vote to approve the issuance of shares to Orbital stockholders. Orbital's board of directors also continues to recommend that Orbital stockholders vote to approve the proposed transaction."

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The Little Comet Lander That Could

By Keith Cowing on November 17, 2014 9:43 AM.

Osiris Spots Philae Drifting Across Comet 67P/C

"These incredible images show the breathtaking journey of Rosetta's Philae lander as it approached and then rebounded from its first touchdown on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 12 November 2014."

Philae Spacecraft - robotic european space agency (ESA) lander, eBay

"Highly complex spacecraft with on-board laboratory, solar panels (requires sun), inter-stellar communications pack. Power system, Thermal control system, Landing gear, Anchoring system (faulty). Buyer must collect item from it's storage location on Comet 67P."

Why we all fell in love with Rosetta's Philae lander, Washington Post

"By Friday night, we knew it was coming to an end: That morning, Rosetta scientists had told the public that Philae's batteries were almost certainly going to die during their next communication link with the probe. And sure enough, Philae's Twitter account followed through until the end, tweeting out a series of messages about going to sleep that made many (myself included) express grief for - and immense pride in - the little lander that could."

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New Crew Arrives at Space Station to Continue Scientific Research

New Crew Arrives at Space Station to Continue Scientific Research

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