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OIG Dings NASA on IT Security - Again

By Keith Cowing on July 22, 2014 4:27 PM.

Audit of the Space Network's Physical and Information Technology Security Risks, NASA OIG

"With regard to physical and IT security, we found NASA has not ensured security controls are in place on certain wide area network infrastructure, needs to clarify waiver requirements for IT security controls and mitigations, and should take additional steps to ensure that long-standing physical security risks are addressed. We also found that the Space Network is not using NASA's Agency Consolidated End-User Services (ACES) contract to obtain administrative computers and associated end-user services and therefore may be spending more than necessary for equipment and services without realizing the operational and security benefits of systems provided through ACES."

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SpaceX F9 ORBCOMM 1st Stage "Soft" Landing Video

By Marc Boucher on July 22, 2014 3:46 PM.

SpaceX Releases ORBCOMM First Stage Return Video, SpaceRef Business

"Following last week's successful launch of six ORBCOMM satellites, the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage reentered Earth's atmosphere and soft landed in the Atlantic Ocean. This test confirms that the Falcon 9 booster is able consistently to reenter from space at hypersonic velocity, restart main engines twice, deploy landing legs and touch down at near zero velocity."

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Budget Stalled, Again

By Marc Boucher on July 22, 2014 10:14 AM.

Republicans Prep Short-Term Funding to Keep Government Open Through Election Day, National Journal

"Abandoning all pretense of the House and Senate agreeing on appropriations bills on time, House GOP leaders are tentatively planning to vote next week on a resolution keeping the government temporarily funded at current levels beyond the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year--and probably past Election Day."

Marc's note: Here we go again. Thanks to Jeff Foust for the tip.

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Progress 55 Leaves the ISS

By Marc Boucher on July 22, 2014 10:05 AM.

VIDEO: Russian Cargo Ship Departs the International Space Station

"Three months after delivering 2 tons of food, fuel and supplies for the Expedition 40 crew, the unpiloted Russian ISS Progress 55 cargo ship undocked from the International Space Station July 21."

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KSC Operations and Checkout Building Renamed in Honor of Neil Armstrong

By Marc Boucher on July 21, 2014 5:54 PM.

VIDEO: NASA Renames Historic Facility in Honor of Neil Armstrong, NASA

"During a ceremony at Kennedy Space Center on Monday, July 21, NASA renamed the center's Operations and Checkout Building in honor of late astronaut Neil Armstrong, who passed away in 2012."

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Another Nano/Microsatellite Market Report

By Marc Boucher on July 21, 2014 12:20 PM.

SpaceWorks Releases Global Launch Vehicle Market Assessment Report for Nano and Microsatellites, SpaceRef Business

"SpaceWorks has released a mini-study "Global Launch Vehicle Market Assessment, A study of launch services for nano/microsatellites in 2013". The reports aims to capture the growing number of future nano/microsatellite missions requiring a launch."

Marc's note: I received an email from Spaceworks to clarify that is not their annual assessment but rather a mini-study they conducted.

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New Space Commerce Monograph Released

By Marc Boucher on July 21, 2014 11:25 AM.

NASA Releases Space Commerce Monograph

"NASA has released a new monograph "Historical Analogs for the Stimulation of Space Commerce" in the Monographs in Aerospace History series (no. 54)."

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Solving The Russian Problem

By Keith Cowing on July 21, 2014 11:15 AM.

Former NASA Boss: Russia Has US Space Program in 'Hostage Situation', ABC

"We're in a hostage situation," former NASA administrator Michael Griffin told ABC News. "Russia can decide that no more U.S. astronauts will launch to the International Space Station and that's not a position that I want our nation to be in." But there is a new sort of space race happening now to help reestablish U.S. autonomy. Three private companies -- Boeing, Space-Ex and Sierra Nevada -- are currently competing for billions of dollars in NASA funding to build the next ride to space for American astronauts."

Keith's note: Funny thing: at least one of these commercial ventures will crews fly sooner than Mike Griffin's Ares/Orion would ever have flown under even the most optimistic of scenarios.

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Apollo 11 - The Eagle Prepares to Land

By Marc Boucher on July 20, 2014 5:01 PM.

The Eagle Prepares to Land, NASA

"The Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle, in a landing configuration was photographed in lunar orbit from the Command and Service Module Columbia. Inside the module were Commander Neil A. Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin."

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Rebooting ISEE-3: Space for All

By Keith Cowing on July 18, 2014 8:32 PM.

Lost and Found in Space: Rebooting ISEE-3: Space for All, op ed, Keith Cowing, New York Times

"NASA likes to say that "space is hard," but to make itself relevant to the people whose taxes fund it, it must get outside its comfort zone. To its credit, NASA saw the potential of our project to reach beyond the traditional audience. The interactions via social media with our supporters have borne this out. Imagine what feats of exploration might be possible if an empowered and engaged citizenry realized that exploring space is really something anyone can do."

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Popular Press Exaggerates 3D-Printing Technology Says NRC Report

By Marc Boucher on July 18, 2014 11:00 AM.

National Research Council Report Says It's Too Soon for 3-D Printing to Significantly Enhance Space Operations, SpaceRef Business

"A National Research Council report, 3D Printing in Space, says it's too soon for 3-D Printing to significantly enhance space operations. Released today, the report includes several recommendations including that NASA and the Air Force should jointly cooperate, possibly with other agencies and industry, "to to research, identify, develop, and gain consensus on standard qualification and certification methodologies for different applications."

"Many of the claims made in the popular press about this technology have been exaggerated." said Robert Latiff, chair of the committee that wrote the report, president of Latiff Associates, and a former Air Force Major General. "For in-space use, the technology may provide new capabilities, but it will serve as one more tool in the toolbox, not a magic solution to tough space operations and manufacturing problems. However, right now NASA and the Air Force have a tremendous resource in the form of the International Space Station," Latiff added. "Perfecting this technology in space will require human interaction, and the Space Station already provides the infrastructure and the skilled personnel who can enable that to happen."

Related: Too Soon for 3-D Printing to Significantly Enhance Space Operations, Report Says, National Research Council

Made In Space 3D Printer Gets Green Light from NASA for Launch, SpaceRef Business

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8 Years to Copy a 50 Year Old Russian Engine? Really?

By Keith Cowing on July 17, 2014 1:19 PM.

Senators vow to reassert America's rocket power, The Hill

"The United States must now respond decisively and provide our own domestic capacity to launch our crew and cargo into space," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said. "We simply cannot rely on the vicissitudes of foreign suppliers in a foreign nation for our national security." The full costs of replacing the engine could be much higher than Congress is willing to commit to right now. It is, quite literally, rocket science to fit a new engine into existing rockets. Aside from building the engine itself, engineers will also need to make sure every other component works with the new machinery, kind of like switching out a car's hybrid engine with a V8. That could take five to eight years and cost up to $2 billion, predicted the Pentagon's acquisition and technology chief, Alan Estevez."

Assured Access to Space - Prepared testimony and video, Senate Armed Services Committee

U.S. Launch Enterprise: Acquisition Best Practices Can Benefit Future Efforts, GAO

Keith's note: We went from having only tiny rockets to the Saturn V (and its massive engines) in 8 years. Here we are in the 21st century and it is going to take us the same amount of time to reverse engineer a 50 year old Russian engine design? Am I missing something?

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A Few Apollo 11 Videos

By Marc Boucher on July 17, 2014 8:23 AM.

Video Archive: Looking Back at Apollo 11 45 Years Ago, SpaceRef

"NASA is marking the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing this month. Here in a series of videos from the archives are some of the events of that fateful mission."

Marc's note: The post now includes a restored Apollo 11 EVA just released today.

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NASA OIG Wants NASA to Close IV&V

By Keith Cowing on July 16, 2014 11:57 AM.

NASA OIG: NASA's Independent Verification and Validation Program

"We found that by continuing to occupy and maintain the West Virginia facility, NASA is paying more than necessary in O&M expenses, which leaves the Agency with less funding to perform actual IV&V services on NASA software projects.  We estimated the Agency could save as much as $9.7 million between FYs 2015 and 2018 if the IV&V Program took steps to reduce costs associated with the facility. In order to make additional funds available for review of mission-critical software, we recommended NASA analyze alternatives for reducing occupancy costs associated with the facility, including abandoning the facility and moving staff to an existing NASA Center or relocating the staff to a nearby office building that would cost significantly less. We determined that NASA was not legally obligated to pay O&M expenses associated with the building it currently occupies, but rather has chosen to pay these expenses over the last 20 years.  In our judgment, continuing this arrangement does not make fiscal sense for NASA, particularly when the Agency has more projects needing IV&V services than the current budget can accommodate."

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ESA Does Not Believe in Open Data

By Keith Cowing on July 16, 2014 11:11 AM.

Access to Rosetta Data, ESA

"However, it is important to know that such an "open data" policy is not the norm for most ESA and NASA missions. Data from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray observatory, the MESSENGER mission to Mercury, or for that matter, the NASA Mars orbiters, are all subject to a so-called "proprietary period", as are the data from ESA's Mars Express, XMM-Newton, and Rosetta, for example. This period, typically 6-12 months, gives exclusive access to the data to the scientists who built the instruments or to scientists who made a winning proposal to make certain observations. In ESA's case, the length of the period is decided by our Member States when a mission is selected, although in some cases, the period is made shorter when a mission has been in operation for some time."

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NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 21 July 2014

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 21 July 2014

Today: 5 Progress (55P) Undock: 55P successfully undocked from the ISS at 4:44pm CDT. Progress will remain in orbit for the non-ISS-related "Radar-Progress" experiment. Final deorbit burn is planned for July 31 at 4:54pm CDT.

More updates...

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