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Trump Campaign CEO Bannon Once Ran Biosphere II Project

By Keith Cowing on August 26, 2016 9:41 PM.

Trump's Campaign CEO Ran a Secretive Sci-Fi Project in the Arizona Desert, Mother Jones

"Long before Stephen Bannon was CEO of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, he held a much different job - as the acting director of Biosphere 2, a $200 million scientific research facility in the mountains outside Tucson, Arizona. ... Bannon left Biosphere 2 after two years, and the project was taken over by Columbia University. (It is currently part of the University of Arizona.) But his departure was marred, as the Tucson Citizen reported at the time, by a civil lawsuit filed against Space Biosphere Ventures by the former crew members who had broken in."

Before Breitbart, before Trump, Bannon bullied people in Biosphere 2, Boing Boing

"Archival reports from 1993 found in the Star-Telegram archives show that Bannon was hired to take over the project at a point where it losing $12-15 million a year. Bannon was a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who ran a firm based in Los Angeles and New York that specialized in media and entertainment investments. .. Bannon's actions soon ended up as part of a civil suit filed by some of the original Biospherians against the new guard. In court, he admitted speaking angry words that echo some more recent accusations against him."

Biosphere 2, wikipedia

"Biosphere 2 was only used twice for its original intended purposes as a closed-system experiment: once from 1991 to 1993, and the second time from March to September 1994. Both attempts, though heavily publicized, ran into problems including low amounts of food and oxygen, die-offs of many animal and plant species, squabbling among the resident scientists and management issues."

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Another Dragon Returns From Space

By Keith Cowing on August 26, 2016 12:14 PM.

SpaceX Dragon Splashes Down with Crucial NASA Research Samples, NASA

"SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 11:47 a.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 26, southwest of Baja California with more than 3,000 pounds of NASA cargo, science and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station. The Dragon spacecraft will be taken by ship to a port near Los Angeles, where some cargo will be removed and returned to NASA immediately. Dragon then will be prepared for a return trip to SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing."

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NASA Future In-Space Operations: What does the future hold for the Deep Space Network

By Marc Boucher on August 26, 2016 9:55 AM.

NASA FISO Presentation: The Deep Space Network - The Next 50 Years

"Dr. Leslie J. Deutsch is the Deputy Director of the Interplanetary Network Directorate at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This Directorate provides information services to spacecraft exploring the solar system and beyond. The Directorate's facilities include NASA's Deep Space Network, the giant antennas used to communicate with these spacecraft."

Note: The audio file and presentation are available online and to download.

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A Tough Act To Follow

By Keith Cowing on August 25, 2016 7:16 PM.

Van Hollen Vows To Continue Mikulski's Passion for Space, SpacePolicyOnline

"Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) vowed to continue the strong support for NASA and NOAA evidenced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski if he is elected as her successor in November. Mikulski is retiring and Van Hollen is widely considered to be the front runner to replace her. Overall, Van Hollen's message today at a luncheon sponsored by the Maryland Space Business Roundtable (MSBR) was one of reassurance. Mikulski's advocacy for NASA and NOAA, especially, but not only, earth science missions, is legendary. Many in the space community are apprehensive about what her departure will mean for NASA and NOAA space programs and budgets. Van Hollen is a relative unknown in space circles and today he clearly wanted to convey his enthusiasm and dedication to continue the fight."

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Woody Bethay

By Keith Cowing on August 25, 2016 1:11 PM.

Joseph Arwood Bethay

"He entered the US Army Ordnance Corp in 1957 and was assigned to the Army Guided Missile Agency at Redstone Arsenal where he managed development of ground support equipment for the Corporal Missile System and warhead development for the Sergeant Missile System. Woody joined Marshal Space Flight Center in 1960. In his 35 years at MSFC he worked on research and development programs including the Saturn, Skylab, High Energy Astronomy Observatories, Space Shuttle, Spacelab, Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra. He retired from NASA in 1995 as the Associate Director of MSFC."

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NIAC Has An ITAR Problem

By Keith Cowing on August 24, 2016 9:04 PM.

NASA advanced technology reports taken offline after export control issue, Space News

"NASA has taken offline technical reports associated with a cutting-edge technology program out of concerns of a possible export control breach, an agency official said Aug. 24. Speaking at annual symposium of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program in Raleigh, North Carolina, Jason Derleth, the NIAC program executive at NASA Headquarters, said the final reports associated with various NIAC research projects have been removed from the agency's website after one of them appeared to contain information that ran afoul of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) export control rules."

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Earth-Mass Planet Orbits Proxima Centauri

By Keith Cowing on August 24, 2016 1:02 PM.

Earth-mass Planet Found In The Habitable Zone Of Proxima Centauri, ESO

"Astronomers using ESO telescopes and other facilities have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri. The long-sought world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. This rocky world is a little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet to us -- and it may also be the closest possible abode for life outside the solar system. A paper describing this milestone finding will be published in the journal Nature on 25 August 2016."

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Don Curry

By Keith Cowing on August 24, 2016 11:40 AM.

Don Curry, Clayton Funeral Homes

"He loved his work at NASA and was involved with every program, from Mercury through the Space Shuttle, before retiring after 45 years. He became one of the world's leading experts on thermal protection systems, receiving much recognition for his work. Don was respected and beloved by his colleagues who referred to him as "The Legend."

Donald M. Curry, NASA Johnson Space Center Oral History Project Edited Oral History Transcript

"I think most people that worked on the Apollo program out here worked for no extra pay because we were too interested in it. It was too much of a challenge because there wasn't anything known. When [President John F.] Kennedy said, "We're going to the Moon," well, we didn't even have the material. We didn't have the guidance schemes. We'd never done some of these things. We'd only flown one Mercury flight, in fact."

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NASA CIO Drops The Ball On ACES Authorization

By Keith Cowing on August 22, 2016 8:38 PM.

NASA's 'act of desperation' demonstrates continued cyber deficiencies, Federal News Radio

"One of NASA's main networks used by almost every employee and contractor and managed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise is in such bad shape, the agency's chief information officer could no longer accept the risk and let the cybersecurity authorization expire. Renee Wynn, NASA's new CIO, didn't sign off on the authority to operate (ATO) for systems and tools under the $2.5 billion Agency Consolidated End-user Services (ACES) contract, which HPE won in 2010. Under the 10-year contract, HPE provides and manages most of NASA's personal computing hardware, agency-standard software, mobile information technology services, peripherals and accessories, associated end-user services and supporting infrastructure. A NASA spokeswoman confirmed the ATO expired on July 24. She said Wynn signed a "conditional" ATO for the systems under ACES, but internal NASA sources said the authorization is just for the management tools and not for the desktops, laptops and other end user devices. Letting an ATO expire on a major agency network is unheard of in government. Multiple federal cyber experts said agencies know at least a year in advance when an authorization and accreditation needs to be renewed."

NASA Totally Flunks FITARA Scorecard 2 Years In A Row, earlier post

"I need to thank NASA's AA for Legislative Affairs, Seth Statler, for pointing out the hearing - and NASA's 'F' grade. NASA has the distinction in 2016 for being the only agency to get an overall 'F', so congratulations are in order. Of course, in telling everyone about FITARA, it is quite obvious that Statler was doing a little blame shifting as he spoke for NASA CIO Renee Wynn - while throwing her under the bus."

- Earlier posts

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House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Has Been Hijacked

By Keith Cowing on August 22, 2016 6:27 PM.

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Russia Begins To Reduce ISS Participation

By Keith Cowing on August 22, 2016 5:42 PM.

Roscosmos plans to reduce Russian ISS crew to two, TASS

"Russia's state space corporation Roscosmos plans to reduce Russia's crew at the International Space Station (ISS) from three to two cosmonauts, the Izvestia newspaper writes on Thursday, citing Roscosmos manned programs director Sergei Krikalev. "Plans to reduce the crew stem from the fact that less cargo ships are sent to the ISS and from the necessity to boost the efficiency of the program," the newspaper quotes Krikalev. Apart from that, it will make it possible to lower expenses on the space station's maintenance."

Space station crew may drop to five because of Russia, Ars Technica

"In a statement on Monday, NASA confirmed that Russia is considering dropping back to two crew members. However, the agency did not provide any additional information. According to NASA: "Any questions about the near-term Russian Space budget or Russian ISS expedition size should be directed to the Roscosmos press office. Roscosmos has joined NASA and other International Space Station partners in extending support for the orbiting laboratory to at least 2024, and the current level of research of both NASA and the international partners on ISS is at an all-time high."

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Mars On Earth

By Keith Cowing on August 22, 2016 12:33 AM.

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2016/Mars.devon.jpg

Full-Circle Vista from NASA Mars Rover Curiosity Shows 'Murray Buttes'

"Eroded mesas and buttes reminiscent of the U.S. Southwest shape part of the horizon in the latest 360-degree color panorama from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover."

Keith's note: This is why we call Devon Island "Mars On Earth". Top: Mars 2016 Bottom: me on Devon Island 2002. I have been to Devon Island 3 times - twice for a month. Without exception, a day did not go by when my eyes were telling me that I was on Mars every hour or so.

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Presidential Space Politics Are Popping Up in Florida's Senate Race

By Keith Cowing on August 21, 2016 8:28 PM.

Marco Rubio declares support for NASA plan, calls on presidential nominees to do same, Florida Politics

"Saying NASA needs long-range political assurances, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio declared broad backing for the space agency's agenda Friday and called on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to do the same. Rubio met Friday with space industry representatives and others in a roundtable discussion organized by the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast and Space Florida, the state's space industry development corporation. They heard from him what they wanted: that Florida's junior senator, seeking re-election, is behind NASA's most ambitious programs, to turn over as much lower-Earth orbit activity as possible to private companies, and focus the nation's manned space flight efforts on getting to Mars."

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NASA Still Has No Idea What a SLS Launch Will Cost

By Keith Cowing on August 21, 2016 2:29 PM.

How much will SLS and Orion cost to fly? Finally some answers, Ars Technica

"My top number for Orion, SLS, and the ground systems that support it is $2 billion or less," [NASA deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development Bill] Hill told Ars. "I mean that's my real ultimate goal. We were running at about three-plus, 3.6 billion [dollars] during the latter days of space shuttle. Of course, there again, we were flying six or seven missions. I think we're actually going to have to get to less than that." Ars has learned that the agency's ultimate goal for annual production and operations costs is about $1.5 billion. ... Production and operations costs - P&O in NASA's acronym laden jargon - of $2 billion or less would leave a significant amount of money within NASA's budget for human missions to the vicinity of the Moon, to its surface, or eventually crewed missions to Mars. In fiscal year 2016, NASA received $3.7 billion for exploration systems development, essentially the SLS, Orion, and ground systems budget. The number is likely to grow to $4 billion before the decade's end. If it could eventually spend half of that on deep space habitats, landers, surface living quarters, and myriad other systems, the agency could have the beginnings of a viable program in deep space."

Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel Annual Report 2015, earlier post

"In October 2015, NASA published what it called "a detailed outline" of its next steps in getting to the Red Planet. Unfortunately, the level of detail in the report, NASA's Journey to Mars: Pioneering the Next Steps in Space Exploration, does not really validate whether NASA would be capable of achieving such an ambitious objective in a reasonable time period, with realistically attainable technologies, and with budgetary requirements that are consistent with the current economic environment."

Double GAO Reports: SLS and Orion Cost and Risk Estimates Are Still Unreliable

"... the SLS program has not positioned itself well to provide accurate assessments of core stage progress - including forecasting impending schedule delays, cost overruns, and anticipated costs at completion - because at the time of our review it did not anticipate having the baseline to support full reporting on the core stage contract until summer 2016 - some 4.5 years after NASA awarded the contract."

- GAO Finds NASA SLS Costs Not Credible, earlier post
- NASA Employs Faith-Based Funding Approach For SLS, earlier post
- NASA Has Three Different Launch Dates for Humans on SLS, earlier post
- Earlier SLS/Orion posts

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Do NASA and Space Commerce Need Each Other?

By Keith Cowing on August 20, 2016 11:38 AM.

The inside story of how billionaires are racing to take you to outer space, Washington Post

"For years, many have been waiting for the commercial space industry to become a real market, one where companies actually make money and prosper. William Gerstenmaier, the head of NASA's human spaceflight division, said he thinks that the industry "is on the crest of another wave." "There's a lot of hype," he said at a Federal Aviation Administration space conference this year, citing other times when industry felt it was on the cusp of revolutionary change. "But will we be able to generate enough demand?" he said. "It can't just be solely government demand. It has to be augmented by the private sector. . . . Will that be enough to push us over or to reach that tipping point that actually enables this industry to become more self-sufficient than it was in the past?"

Dazed and Confused About Space Commerce At NASA, earlier post

"The substance that the companies behind SLS and Orion use to keep people employed is identical to what they would theoretically use to operate ISS and routine crew and cargo transport: money. The money either comes from NASA or it doesn't but the financial health of these companies is all running on the same fuel. And whatever money NASA does not have to spend on one thing, it supposedly can spend on another. But this is an ecosystem - one that seems to want to expand off-world - where government money, money earned from government recycled back into other areas, and money from outside the NASA/contractor honey pot all gets mixed together. If one thing can feed another and spur interest amongst investors while others derive profit for the risks they took with their own money, well, that's how actual commerce establishes itself."

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