Recently in Aeronautics Category

Mystery Surrounds NASA's Secret Mission in Africa, ABC

A NASA official recently confirmed that one of the agency's aircraft had been spotted on an American military airstrip in eastern Africa a few weeks ago, but like a series of U.S. military officials, declined to say what the space agency's high-tech bird was doing there. "I really can't give you any of the details," Jim Alexander, a NASA official with the WB-57 High Altitude Research Program, told ABC News. "You know, the airplane was there, you see it in the picture. But I really can't tell you what it was for."

LDSD Testing for Large Payloads to Mars on Tuesday

"To duplicate many of the most important aspects of Mars' thin atmosphere, NASA plans to use the very thin air found high in Earth's stratosphere as a test bed for the LDSD mission. NASA has identified six potential launch dates for the balloon carrying LDSD: June 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 14. The June 3 launch window extends from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. HST, or 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. EDT. The test can be viewed live on NASA TV beginning at 7:45 a.m. HST (1:45 p.m. EDT) or on the web at:
http://www.nasa.gov/ntv"

Review of Allegations of Improper Leasing and Provision of Aircraft Fuel at Moffett Federal Airfield

"The OIG found that consistent with NASA policy Ames based the price of its lease with H211 on the fair market value of comparable hangar space and that, as required, the lease and companion Space Act Agreement supported NASA's mission. Specifically, since 2009 H211 has flown more than 200 flights to collect climate data at no cost to NASA - science missions Ames officials estimate would have cost the Agency between $1,800 and $6,500 per flight hour to operate depending on the type of aircraft used. Accordingly, we determined that NASA benefitted from both its lease and Space Act Agreement with H211. ... We found that from September 2007 until August 2013, H211 purchased fuel at Moffett from DLA-Energy either directly or through NASA for both its personal flights and NASA science flights at a rate intended only for government agencies and their contractors. ... Even though we concluded that the fuel arrangement did not result in an economic loss to NASA or DLA-Energy, H211 nevertheless received a monetary benefit to which it was not entitled. Accordingly, we recommend that NASA explore with the company possible options to remedy this situation."

NASA Announces New Strategic Vision for Aeronautics Research [Watch], NASA

"Nearly every aircraft flying and air traffic management system now in use includes NASA-supported technologies that improve efficiency and safety," said Bolden. "This new vision will expand on that by fully integrating into aviation advances in other industries and parts of the economy to meet the future demands for global mobility in ways we can only begin to imagine today."

The new strategic vision greatly expands the relevancy of NASA's research and is based on three themes: understanding emerging global trends, using those trends to drive research directions and then organizing NASA's aeronautical research work in response to those drivers.

- Charles Bolden Speech (PDF)
- Aeronautics Research Strategic Vision (PDF)

Marc's note: It appears few media outlets deemed it necessary to cover this announcement. Other than publishing the press release there's scant coverage of it.

NASA Commercial Crew Transportation Capability Contract CCTCAP Draft RFP, NASA

"The CCtCap contract is the second phase of a two-phased procurement strategy to develop a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability to achieve safe, reliable and cost effective access to and from the International Space Station (ISS) with a goal of no later than 2017.

The Government does not intend to acquire a commercial item using FAR Part 12. This procurement is a full and open competition. The NAICS Code and Size Standard are 336414 and 1000 employees, respectively."

Ariane 6 Next Steps

Ariane 6, ESA

"In November 2012, European Ministers responsible for space, meeting in Naples, Italy, approved the start of preparatory activities for Europe's next-generation Ariane 6 launch vehicle. The objective of Ariane 6 is to maintain guaranteed autonomous access to space for Europe, while minimising exploitation costs and suppressing any support to exploitation."

Baseline configuration selected

The selected 'Multi P linear' concept is based on a lower 'composite' of four motors, each loaded with around 135 tonnes of solid propellant, providing also synergies with the Vega evolution perspectives. An "in-line" arrangement of three will serve as the first stage, while the fourth will be mounted above as the second stage.

The third stage will be an adapted version of the Ariane 5 ME upper stage, equipped with the Vinci engine and specific propellant tanks.

The 5.4 m-diameter payload fairing will be able to accommodate the same volume of satellites as Ariane 5.

... Ariane 6 will benefit from the advances by European industry in solid and cryogenic propulsion, structures, systems, avionics, ground segment and operations through the Ariane and Vega programmes."

Marc's note: I meant to post this a few days ago but with the budget news I held off. This rocket would still be on the drawing board if it weren't for SpaceX and their efforts with the Falcon Heavy. While there's no doubt that the heritage of the Ariane line will help development efforts, I have serious doubts that the Ariane 6 will be able to compete with the Falcon Heavy on price unless it's subsidized. SpaceX has a list price (2012) of $83 million to GTO for up to 6.4 tonnes and $128M for greater than 6.4 tonnes while reports suggest Arianespace is targeting €70 million ($91m) for 6.5 tonnes

Hot-Fire Tests Steering the Future of NASA'S Space Launch System Engines, NASA

"Engineers developing NASA's next-generation rocket closed one chapter of testing with the completion of a J-2X engine test series on the A-2 test stand at the agency's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and will begin a new chapter of full motion testing on test stand A-1.

... The March 7 test, which set the short-lived duration record, was remarkable for another reason in that it marked the first time a 3-D printed part was hot-fire tested on a NASA engine system.

The prime contractor for the liquid engine, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., built a maintenance port cover for the 10002 engine using an advanced manufacturing process called Selective Laser Melting. This construction method uses lasers to fuse metal dust into a specific pattern to build the needed part."

NASA Associate Administrator Statements on the Asteroid Initiative in the FY 2014 Budget Request

"The following are statements from the associate administrators of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Science Mission Directorate, and Space Technology Mission Directorate on the administration's budget request for the 2014 fiscal year."

Keith's note: Apparently the observations of Jaiwon Shin, the Associate Administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (about the budget), weren't deemed to be important enough to include. Oddly, NASA CFO Robinson and NASA Adminstrator Bolden made frequent mention of the Boeing 787 today during a budget media telecon.

Congresswoman Eshoo Announces Plan for Hangar One and Moffett Federal Airfield

"Following a meeting with Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), GSA, NASA, and the White House at the Capitol on Tuesday, February 26, the General Services Administration will issue a Notice of Intent regarding Hangar One and Moffett Federal Airfield, which reflects the following: 1. Moffett Federal Airfield will NOT be excessed. It will remain a restricted Federal Airfield and NASA will remain its custodian. 2. The Notice of Intent outlines a competitive bid process and the Request for Proposal (RFP) will be released this spring seeking a qualified lessee to provide for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of historic Hangar One."

Notice of Intent - Leasing Opportunity - Hangar One and Moffett Federal Airfield

"While the primary objective is to facilitate the expeditious re-siding of Hangar One, the Government will also consider proposals to manage the Moffett Federal Airfield."

Keith's note: Charlie Bolden has been relentlessly trying to shut this airstrip down and/or get rid of it for years.

Mitt Romney pulls in $6 million at Beverly Hills fundraiser, LA Times

"When you have a fire in an aircraft, there's no place to go, exactly, there's no -- and you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't do that. It's a real problem. So it's very dangerous."

X-48C Takes to The Air

Transformed X-48c Flies Successfully

"The remotely piloted X-48C aircraft successfully flew for the first time Tuesday at Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert. The aircraft, designed by The Boeing Co. and built by Cranfield Aerospace Limited of the United Kingdom, is flying again in partnership with NASA. The new X-48C model, which was formerly the X-48B Blended Wing Body aircraft, was modified to evaluate the low-speed stability and control of a low-noise version of a notional, future Hybrid Wing Body (HWB) aircraft design."

OIG: NASA's Use of Research Announcement Awards for Aeronautics Research

"Based on our sample results, we estimate that ARMD's 447 NRA awards during this 5-year period contained $25.2 million in unallowable or unsupported costs. Moreover, we project that by addressing the deficiencies we identified NASA could avoid awarding approximately $3.6 million in unallowable and/or unsupported costs annually in ARMD NRA awards."

NASA Aeronautics Research Critical to Maintaining America's Lead in Global Aviation Market

Democrats Urge Continued Support for Aeronautics Research

"Because of the lengthy gestation period needed to move from concept to deployment, industry has often been reluctant to apply resources to high risk, fundamental aeronautics research and development (R&D) --an investment often needed as a forerunner to bringing to market new technologies and capabilities. NASA and successive Congresses believe that NASA has a unique role to play in this pre-competitive area and see sustaining the Nation's competitive edge in aviation as requiring an examination of innovative technical concepts and sustained government investment in R&D."

NASA Should Phase Out Lower-Priority Aeronautics Activities, Focus on Higher Risk, Higher Payoff Projects

"At a time when NASA's aeronautics funding is at a historic low, the agency needs to restart its highly successful flight research program, rather than devote most of its efforts to small-scale research, says a new report from the National Research Council. To accomplish this, the agency should phase out lower-priority aeronautics activities and select two to five programs with the greatest potential."

NASA Research Opportunities in Aeronautics 2011

"This publication announces the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Headquarters, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) plans to release the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 version of the NASA Research Announcement (NRA) entitled, "Research Opportunities in Aeronautics (ROA)", NNH11ZEA001N. Under the FY 2011 ROA NRA ARMD will continue solicitation of foundational and systems-level research proposals for four programs within ARMD: the Airspace Systems Program, the Aviation Safety Program, the Fundamental Aeronautics Program, and the Integrated Systems Research Program."

Bolden Talks Aeronautics

Remarks for Adminstrator Bolden - National Academy of Sciences Aeronautics and Technology Rountable

"It's very important that we help bring about the next generation of aircraft and air traffic control systems. Aviation is a huge sector of the economy, not only in terms of jobs, but also in transporting goods and people. It consistently contributes in a positive way to the nation's balance of trade and is a symbol of our technical capability. In 2010, aerospace manufacturing provided a U.S. trade surplus of $43.6 billion. In this time of continuing economic challenges, the aeronautics industry provides the kinds of jobs that Americans are proud to have -- a report from 2009 identified nearly one million air transportation and domestic manufacturing jobs and this is integral to our entire way of life."

National Aerospace Week

National Aerospace Week Launched, Aerospace Industries Association

"Ongoing and emerging security threats, aging civil and space infrastructure, fiscal challenges and keeping and creating jobs all present our nation with enormous challenges. This year's National Aerospace Week, an event established by Congress, will focus on informing the debate over choices our government will make in the coming months. The aerospace and defense industry is the lifeblood of America's industrial base, employing approximately 800,000 workers directly, and supporting more than 2 million middle-class jobs in related fields. More than 30,000 suppliers in the industry provide high-skill, high-paying jobs in all 50 states."

Chicken Fat Studied by NASA as Eco-friendly Jet Fuel

"It's made out of chicken fat, actually," said Langley's Bruce Anderson, AAFEX II project scientist. "The Air Force bought many thousands of gallons of this to burn in some of their jets and provided about 8,000 gallons (30,283 liters) to NASA for this experiment." Anderson and his team will test a 50-50 mix of biofuel and regular jet fuel, biofuel only, and jet fuel only. The jet fuel is Jet Propellant 8, or JP-8, a kerosene-like mix of hydrocarbons."

Washington Post: "The control tower at Reagan National Airport went silent early Wednesday, forcing two airliners carrying a total of 165 passengers and crew to land on their own. Both planes landed safely after their pilots took matters into their own hands, broadcasting their progress as they approached and landed. They were also communicating with controllers at a separate facility in the region that does not handle landings. Read more about the air traffic incident.

AUDIO: Listen to an audio transmission as an American Airlines pilot approached for a landing."

NASA Advisory Council Aeronautics Committee Meeting 14-15 April 2011

"The agenda for the meeting includes the following topics: ... Air Traffic Management technology demonstration discussion."

Brown Fights to Preserve Mission of NASA Glenn, Kills Effort to Move Aeronautic Research Away from NASA

"Existing language ( "Section 605" ) of the FAA reauthorization bill would have established an Advisory Committee on the Future of Aeronautics to, among other purposes, consider transferring the responsibility for civil aeronautics research and development--a key mission of NASA Glenn--from NASA to other existing departments or agencies of the federal government, to an academic consortia, or to a non-profit. Brown's amendment, which passed 96-1, stripped this language from the FAA bill and ensured that civil aeronautics research and development would remain a central mission at NASA."

Panel: $11 million air safety study not worth much, AP

"An $11 million air safety study sponsored by NASA that asked pilots to reveal mishaps and problems they encountered was so riddled with flaws that it could not provide useful insights about U.S. flight safety, according to a new review by a national scientific panel. The research project ran for nearly four years and involved telephone interviews that lasted about 30 minutes with 29,000 pilots. But it was so flawed in its design and how it was run that its results were useless for measuring safety problems or trends, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Research Council."

Governors Riley, Barbour and Jindal Announce Launch of The Aerospace Alliance, The Aerospace Alliance

"Governor Bob Riley (R-AL), Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS), and Governor Bobby Jindal (R- LA) today announced the launch of The Aerospace Alliance, a 501(c)(6) private/public organization that will establish the Gulf Coast and surrounding region as a world class aerospace, space and aviation corridor. The announcement was made before hundreds of supporters at an event in Bay Minette, Alabama."

Florida Lawmakers Tout Northwest Florida as Aerospace, Aviation Center, The Aerospace Alliance

"U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and George LeMieux said today the Northwest Florida region is destined to become a world-class home for new aviation and aerospace jobs."

NAS Report on NASA NAOMS

National Academy of Sciences Review of NASA's pilot safety survey

"A new report from the National Research Council, AN ASSESSMENT OF NASA'S NATIONAL AVIATION MONITORING SERVICE (NAOMS), examines the NAOMS project, an anonymous survey used to collect data from commercial and general aviation pilots over several years regarding aviation safety-related incidents. The report assesses the survey methodology and analyzes the data collected. The report also provides recommendations on the appropriate use of the NAOMS data. Reporters may obtain copies of the report by contacting the National Academies' Office of News and Public Information, tel. 202-334-2138 or e-mail news@nas.edu. Advance copies will be available to reporters only starting at noon EDT on Tuesday, Oct. 27. THE REPORT IS EMBARGOED AND NOT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE BEFORE 11 A.M. EDT ON WEDNESDAY, OCT. 28."

NASA Air Safety Update, earlier post
NASA Air Safety Survey: Redacted Air Carrier Survey Responses with Unknowns in Flight Activity Fields, earlier post
Committee Asks GAO to Analyze NASA's Air Safety Survey Data, earlier post
Air Safety Survey: NASA's Sluggishness Made Things Worse Than They Needed To Be, earlier post

NASA Solicitation: Recovery Act: Advanced Concept Studies for Supersonic Commerical Transport Aircraft Entering Service in the 2018-2020 Period

"RECOVERY ACT - THIS NOTICE IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. THIS OPPORTUNITY IS AVAILABLE ONLY TO LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION, LOCKHEED MARTIN AERONAUTICS COMPANY, PALMDALE, CA.

The Supersonics Project is aligned with the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) principles of maintaining intellectual stewardship of aeronautical core competencies for the nation in the supersonic flight regime and of focusing research in areas that are appropriate to NASA's unique capabilities. The Project supports the Fundamental Aeronautics Program's (FAP) strategy of developing systems level multidisciplinary capabilities for supersonic civilian and military applications."

Keith's note: On 27 August there will be an invitation-only media briefing with Jaiwon Shin, NASA's Associate Administrator for Aeronautics who will give a progress report on activities undertaken in the past year and discuss what's ahead for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in fiscal 2010. Alas, you can only attend this event if you are invited and are physically present in Washington, DC. I have been invited but I will be on a train when this briefing occurs. Alas, there is no provision for a phone bridge (even though all the other directorates regularly use them). But they do have money to spend on refreshments.

Given that the actual aeronautics research being discussed is not done at NASA HQ but at various NASA field centers and in the private sector spread out across the U.S., one would think that such an update would be of considerable interest to media who are not physically present in Washington, DC. Given the looming changes that will come from the Augustine Committee and shuttle retirement, people are especially anxious as to understanding what the agency will be doing.

Again, as I have observed before, people in the aeronautics world regularly complain that there is not enough news coming out about aeronautics. This is why.

Another Stealth Launch From Wallops, earlier post

NASA Launches New Technology: An Inflatable Heat Shield

"A successful NASA flight test Monday demonstrated how a spacecraft returning to Earth can use an inflatable heat shield to slow and protect itself as it enters the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds."

Keith's note: What a cool project. And the launch - it was one that was likely visible up and down the east coast of the U.S. Too bad NASA only started to tell people about it a few hours before the launch. The only NASA Aeronautics or WFF PAO release was after the fact. No media advisory was sent out in advance, no advance press release, no contact of metro area media - nothing. At a time when everyone seems to be in a quandry as to what value NASA provides to the public, you'd think that a little more PR would be in order - especially given the number of peopel vacationing on the shore who could have been tipped off to what was happening.

Although something is posted here dated 10 August, you'd have to be a regular visitor to the Aeronautics page to have seen it. To their credit the Wallops folks did Twitter about the launch but unless you just happend to check Twitter at 4:09 pm on 13 August before new Tweets rolled in, you would have never known there was going to be a launch until early today. If you were checking Twitter around 6 am EDT today you would have seen that a countdown was underway. Also, the Wallops PAO office is not exactly large 1-2 people on a good day. That said, Aeronautics PAO at NASA HQ could have been much more proactive in this regard. How much work does it take to issue a simple who/what/when/where media advisory for something like this? Too much, it would seem.

People in the aeronautics world are always complaining about a lack of visibility for what they do. Given this stealth launch today, I can understand why they feel this way. The same goes for Wallops - what do they do over there? Well, one look at their press release page would suggest that they have not done anything that is newsworthy since 6 May 2008.

NASA OIG on NextGen

NASA Could Improve Analyses and Coordination in Support of the Joint Planning and Development Office to Develop the Next Generation Air Transportation System

"Overall, we determined that NASA had taken some actions to work effectively with JPDO to accomplish NextGen development. NASA implemented an organizational structure to support JPDO R&D activities, assigning responsibility to accomplish NextGen R&D activities to ARMD. ARMD reformulated programs and projects to execute its NextGen responsibilities, developed program and project plans that support JPDO's plans, assigned responsibility and defined supervisory positions to support the accomplishment of those plans, and established project plan milestones and schedules to ensure progress toward NextGen objectives. However, concurrent with those actions in support of NextGen, when faced with impending budget reductions, ARMD eliminated or reduced three aeronautics research capabilities that JPDO and NRC had identified as critical for achieving NextGen goals."

NASA Air Safety Update

NASA's National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service Project Was Designed Appropriately, but Sampling and Other Issues Complicate Data Analysis

"In reviewing a draft of this report, NASA reiterated that NAOMS was a research and development project and provided technical comments, which GAO incorporated as appropriate. NASA also expressed concern about protecting NAOMS respondents' confidentiality, a concern GAO shares. However, GAO noted that other agencies have developed mechanisms for releasing sensitive data to appropriate researchers. The Department of Transportation had no comments."

Chairman Gordon, Science and Technology Committee Members Release GAO Report on NAOMS

"This was a well-designed project that failed because it was executed without proper agency oversight and didn't have the support it needed from its primary customer--the FAA," said Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN)."

NASA safety survey a mystery, AP

"Years after thousands of pilots told NASA about their in-flight safety experiences and NASA shut down the survey without divulging any findings, the pilots' views remain a mystery. A congressional investigation to be released Thursday offers little new insight into what the pilots said during the telephone survey or what it might reveal about safe skies. NASA cut off the interviews in 2004 and chose not to analyze the results."

NASA Air Safety Survey: Redacted Air Carrier Survey Responses with Unknowns in Flight Activity Fields, earlier post
Committee Asks GAO to Analyze NASA's Air Safety Survey Data, earlier post
Air Safety Survey: NASA's Sluggishness Made Things Worse Than They Needed To Be, earlier post

Airship Ventures Zepplin Arrives at Moffett Field

"The Airship Ventures' Zeppelin ended its dramatic cross-country trek and landed at its new base location at Moffett Field on Oct. 25, 2008, at approximately 2 p.m. PDT.

This airship is the first to fly over the U.S. for more than 70 years. NASA and Airship Ventures entered into an agreement to use the airship to assist with disaster response agencies, for scientific research and educational training with local science centers and museums."

Zepplins Return to Ames

NASA ARC Internal Memo: Airship's Historic Return to Moffett Field

NASA Welcomes Airship Ventures Zeppelin To Moffett Field

"News media are invited to view the newest addition to Moffett Field - the first airship to fly over the U.S. for more than 70 years - on Monday, Oct. 27, 2008. This 246-foot-long Zeppelin, 50 feet longer than the Goodyear blimp, is capable of carrying up to 12 passengers and will be available for aerial tours of the San Francisco Bay Area."

Zeppelin returns stateside after 70 years, Las Cruces Sun News

Steve Fossett revelation: remote viewer Ed Dames named Sierra Mountains crash site months ago, Washington Examiner

"As California authorities examine the very limited remains found at the site of famed aviator Steve Fossett's crash in California's Sierra Nevadas, it's time to take a look back. Months ago, a remote viewing prediction said search efforts in Nevada were wasted because Fossett had died in California."

Editor's note: A wonderful and generous man dies in a terrible plane accident. So what does former NASA PAO flack Patti Phillips do online at the Washington Examiner? She goes into full tabloid mode and engages in a bizzare meandering rant to suggest that some goofy psychic found the crash site last year via remote viewing. There's even a video clip of the nutcase. How pitiful - taking advantage of such sad news to promote your own wacko ideas. I am sure the trailer park crowd really enjoys your writing, Patti.

2008 Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner: Exploring Earth from Above

"The 2008 Lowell Thomas Awards Dinner: "Exploring Earth from Above" will be held on Thursday, October 16, 2008 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. Sponsored by the Explorers Club, the Lowell Thomas Award is presented by Rolex and the President of the Explorers Club to groups of explorers who have distinguished themselves in various fields of exploration. The 2008 honorees are: William A. Anders, Leroy Chiao, Martha King, Scott E. Parazynski, Dick H. Smith, and Brig. Gen Charles E. Yeager."

NASA and ATK Investigate Failed Launch of Hypersonic Experiments

"An Alliant Tech Systems suborbital rocket carrying two NASA hypersonic experiments was destroyed shortly after liftoff from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Friday. No injuries or property damage were immediately reported. Most debris from the rocket is thought to have fallen in the Atlantic Ocean."

Media Telecon Scheduled to Discuss Rocket Launch Failure

"Representatives from NASA and Alliant Techsystems, or ATK, will hold a media teleconference Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. EDT to discuss this morning's failure of a rocket launch carrying two NASA hypersonic experimental payloads."

NASA and ATK to Launch Suborbital Hypersonic Experiments

"Two NASA hypersonic experiment payloads are scheduled for launch no earlier than Aug. 21 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia atop a two-stage suborbital rocket developed by Alliant Techsystems, also known as ATK, of Salt Lake City."

Wallops Island rocket launch rescheduled for tomorrow, PIlotOnline

"A launch planned for this morning from Wallops Island has been delayed by one day.
The launch is scheduled for tomorrow morning [22 Aug] between 5:10 and 6:10 a.m."

AIAA Report Now Online

AIAA Inside Aerospace Report and Recommendations Now Available Online

"AIAA's Report and Recommendations resulting from the sessions and discussions
held at Inside Aerospace--An International Forum for Aviation and Space Leaders,
held 13-14 May 2008 at the Doubletree Hotel Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia,
is now available online."

Pilots' reports on low fuel, AP

"The Aviation Safety Reporting System -- a database maintained by NASA -- has reports from pilots expressing safety concerns about airline directives pressuring them to fly with uncomfortably low fuel levels. NASA deletes names and other identifying information to encourage pilots, flight crews, dispatchers and others to identify safety problems, including their own mistakes."

Earlier NAOMS postings

Editor's update: I finally got a call from Beth Dickey at Aeronautics PAO - after I complained to PAO about zero response from her. I then had to push three times before she began to tell me why I was not invited to the 11 July Aeronautics media event. Why I never got the audio recording of that event is an even sillier story. This is a typical case of lack of coordination, planning, or concern for getting information to those of us who want to get it in front of a wider audience. NASA HQ Aeronautics PAO is inept as far as I am concerned. It is also uncalled for given the excellence that can be clearly seen in other PAO activities at HQ and across the agency.

Earlier notes below.

House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight Seeks Information From FAA on Ending of Aviation Safety Survey

"The House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight Chairman Brad Miller (D-NC) sent a letter to the Acting Director of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) calling on him to work with NASA to reestablish a program to survey professionals in the air traffic system for better insight into air safety problems. Many of the safety problems of the last few months came to light solely because of whistleblowers stepping forward to identify problems in the FAA safety assurance system. The Subcommittee is working to understand the FAA's role in the ending of NAOMS and is requesting all records from between January 1, 2002 through December 31, 2004 related to the NAOMS program."

Final Memorandum on the Review of the National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service

"The Government may have missed an opportunity to foster a deeper understanding of the aviation safety environment from 2001 through 2004 because its working groups were unable to reach a consensus on the validity or value of the NAOMS data. As a result, NASA was reluctant to publish a report detailing research and conclusions garnered from the collected NAOMS survey data."

NASA Solicitation: Research Opportunities in Aeronautics 2008

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters is releasing a NASA Research Announcement (NRA) for foundational research in support of the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD). NNH08ZEA001N, entitled "Research Opportunities in Aeronautics" will be available on or about March 3, 2008."

Air Safety Report Update

Committee Asks GAO to Analyze NASA's Air Safety Survey Data

"Led today by Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) of the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology, Committee leaders asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to analyze massive amounts of data on U.S. air safety that the National Aeronautics and Safety Administration (NASA) made public on New Year's Eve."

IFPTE on NAOMS

Letter From IFPTE To Congress Regarding NASA Handling of NAOMS Data Release, IFPTE

"On December 31st 2007, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin released redacted NAOMS data to the public. That moment should have been the beginning of a redemptive process in which NASA could move past this embarrassing episode. Alas, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin decided not only to repeat the inaccurate derogatory claims made at the October 31st House Science Committee hearing, but also to add a number of new inaccuracies to the mix (see a summary of ongoing disinformation below). His words, actions, and bellicose public behavior have seriously damaged NASA's credibility"

"False Statement #4: NASA's standard format for data release is PDF (portable document format)
At the press conference, the Administrator stated that "our standard format for data release is PDF format. ... I am sure that you know that the reason why we use PDF format is that the data cannot then be altered by others without our knowledge and still claim that it is NASA data." NASA however has no such policy. In response to a union query, NASA HQ responded that "First, the data to which Dr. Griffin refers pertains to data/information released by NASA Public Affairs (e.g., press releases), not scientific and technical information. Second, the use of the PDF format is a standard practice (not a policy) to protect the integrity of this data/information when released to the public."

Editor's note: This one takes the prize and clearly demonstrates blatant ignorance on the part of Mike Griffin and/or whatever staffer told him this. Mike, you can copy material out of these PDF files easily and import it to other software programs. Try it some time - you'll see.

Message from the NASA Administrator: 2008 National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service (NAOMS)

"Some have said that the initial release date of 31 December was chosen because it was a "slow news day". That is not the case. It was the earliest date we could achieve."

Editor's note: Perhaps if you had not dragged your feet for a month you could have issued this information earlier.

"Finally, we have been criticized for releasing the data in PDF. This is the standard form in which we release data publicly when no particular format has been specified or requested. However, it is true that the sheer volume of NAOMS survey data makes the use of PDF data somewhat cumbersome. Accordingly, I have made an exception to our standard practice in this case, and both the initially redacted data, and all subsequent data, will be published on our website in Excel format."

Editor's note: When is the last time NASA issued 16,000 pages of data in PDF format? You may be a super brain, Mike, but the rest of us can't just ingest all of that data and analyze it in the format it was provided in.

Air Safety Report Update

NASA Updates Aviation Safety Data Website

"NASA updated its National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service (NAOMS) website Monday to add a Microsoft Office Excel formatted version of previously posted files containing pilot survey responses."

Lawmakers hit NASA air safety report, Huntsville Times

"U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, wants the full report released to the public and he chided NASA officials for not releasing it in a way people could understand. "It took three years to compile the data and then another three years to publicly release it - in the form of a cumbersome and heavily redacted report." Shelby said in a statement to The Times. "If the NASA report was worth spending millions of dollars on, don't the taxpayers who paid for it deserve to see the results?"

Earlier NASA Watch posts

Editor's note: NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Lisa Porter is leaving NASA to be the Director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). Her last day will be 1 February 2008.

Jaiwon Shin will be the acting AA for Aeronautics.

No doubt the Market Inn (directions) will be jammed at COB on 1 February with sad HQ personnel.

Internal email from Lisa Porter below:

Runaround on Air Safety, editorial, NY Times

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has grudgingly released data from a four-year survey of pilots about the safety of American aviation. The information was released the day before New Years, with no interpretation of the findings and in a format that is very difficult for outsiders to analyze. If the agency intended to show contempt for the flying public, it succeeded."

Black Hole - What part of 16,208 pages from NASA is comprehensible?, editorial, Washington Post

"Release of the requested data, which are sensitive and safety-related, could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers and general aviation companies whose pilots participated in the survey," wrote NASA associate administrator Thomas S. Luedtke. That rationale was beyond unacceptable. Mr. Griffin was right to reverse course and promise Congress that the data would be released by the end of the year. Who knew he would do it in such a snit?"

Friendly skies?: Only NASA knows the truth, editorial, Salt Lake Tribune

"In a display of institutional and bureaucratic arrogance that is distressingly commonplace in the Bush administration, NASA, aka the gang that couldn't fly straight, is stonewalling the press and public."

How safe is air travel, really?, Smarter Travel

"Just how ambivalent NASA was about making the report public can be clearly seen in the timing of the release. Adopting a tactic universally utilized to minimize media attention and coverage, NASA issued the report on New Year's Eve, the year's slowest news day."

NASA's unreliable survey of air mishaps leads us around in circles, Cincinnati Inquirer

"NASA, which is charged with keeping an eye on the sky, reportedly has been keeping scary secrets about what really goes on in the wild blue yonder. Fasten your seat belt, because even figuring out the air safety report released on New Year's Eve gets hairy."

NASA Insults Pilots, Press and Public, Tampa Tribune

"This insult comes after the agency originally refused to release the information to the Associated Press on the grounds it "could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers." Which is it: too frightening or nothing to see? We deserve better, and if we don't get it, NASA needs better leadership."

NASA's stalling on study raises fear and questions, Denver Post

"The flying public still doesn't know whether to be concerned about safety in the skies or to take the word of NASA administrator Michael Griffin, who says the survey shouldn't be cause for worry. The only thing that is certain is that NASA did a poor job of handling the situation. This chain of events does not exactly inspire confidence in the judgment of the people who send astronauts into space."

NASA, not pilot, error, Plam Beach Post

"But Mr. Griffin's idea of disclosure is more subterfuge. The New Year's Eve release was a heavily redacted version of the study, and it was too disjointed to analyze. The edited information made it impossible to determine the responding pilot's experience, what type of plane the pilot flew, or details of the incidents described. Mr. Griffin said NASA wanted to protect the anonymity of respondents. Bunk. The real reason is what the agency has been saying all along: The survey's publication might damage public confidence in flying."

NASA taking prize for arrogance, Sun Sentinel

"Anything that can give the public understandable safety information on air travel is valuable. Congress knows that. The public knows that. And if NASA officials weren't so arrogant, they'd know it, too."

NASA Handled Study On Safety Improperly, The Intelligencer

"NASA, like any other federal agency, is supposed to serve the people, not any business or industry. It may be time for Congress to remind the agency of that."

NASA Releases Air Safety Report, Sort Of, Hartford Courant

"NASA released the heavily redacted survey results on New Year's eve without analysis, and presented it in such a way that independent analysis seems to be very difficult. It's as if we asked a waiter for a glass of water and he came back and dumped it on our heads."

Whither NASA? Safety study raises questions about space agency, Worcester Telegram

"The questions are inescapable: Why spend $11.3 million on a report that is useless to researchers and policymakers? Why is NASA dabbling in air safety studies rather than focusing on expanding the boundaries of human knowledge? Does the agency that put mankind on the moon have the right stuff to plan and execute the next phase of manned space exploration?"

Air Safety: Cause for study, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"It looks like NASA has taken lessons on how to handle intelligence from the CIA. The way the civilian agency has dealt with the release of a flight safety survey stinks of paranoia and secrecy."

NASA should provide clarity on air-safety report, Kansas City Star

"The immediate problem - magnified by NASAs bungling - is how to interpret the data."

NASA Releases Heavily-Redacted Airline Safety Study, Washington Post

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told reporters in a conference call that the agency had no plans to study the database for trends. He said NASA conducted the survey only to determine whether gathering information from pilots in such a way was worthwhile. Despite the lack of analysis by NASA scientists, Griffin said there was nothing in the database that should concern air travelers. "It's hard for me to see any data the traveling public would care about or ought to care about," he said. "We were asked to release the data and we did."

Editor's note: With regard to Mike Griffin's comment "It's hard for me to see any data the traveling public would care about or ought to care about." I am really wondering if Griffin even read these documents. I can't imagine that he'd be so dismissive if he had. Given his snooty, aloof remarks, I doubt that he even bothered to do so.

Oh yes - why is Aeronautics AA Lisa Porter so utterly silent about all of this ?

Below are some of the more troubling comments in this survey - I went through this one section and highlighted the ones that caught my eye. I am part of "the traveling public" and this stuff certainly troubles me.

NASA Air Safety Survey: Redacted Air Carrier Survey Responses with Unknowns in Flight Activity Fields

"Section D - a brief set of questions designed to elicit respondent feedback on the interview experience. Note: The responses to free text narrative questions D3A and D5 were disaggregated from the parent survey responses and were subsequently randomized."

  • IT'S TAKING OVER 3 YEARS FOR NASA TO FIGURE OUT THERE ARE NO SAFETY PROBLEMS?
  • I HOPE I WILL BE ABLE TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE RESULTS OF THIS STUDY.
  • PUT SURVEY ON INTERNET AND IT WOULD BE MORE BENEFICIAL FOR SURVEY
  • I'M GRATEFUL THAT YOU GUYS ARE INVOLVED IN THIS. FOR YEARS WE HAVE TRUSTED NASA TO DEAL FAIRLY WITH SAFETY ISSUES.
  • ASK ABOUT MAINTENANCE AND DEFERRED PLANES; A MECHANIC SAID "I'M NOT HERE TO FIX IT, JUST TO DEFER IT."
  • THE SECURITY PROBLEMS IN THE AIRPORTS. THEY ARE FIGHTING THE WRONG PROBLEMS. IT IS NOT THE PILOTS. PILOTS NEED TO BE ARMED. THEY HAVE AN UNUSAL AMOUNT OF SECURITY PROCEDURES FOR THE PILOTS YET NOBODY TALKS ABOUT SECURITY PROCEDURES FOR MECHANICS.
  • ATC GIVES PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT TO CERTAIN AIRLINES, NAMELY [AIRLINE A] AND PILOTS CONSIDER THAT UNFAIR AND UNSAFE.
  • PILOTS NEEDS TO MAKE THE SURVEY QUESTIONS, BECAUSE THESE QUESTIONS ARE STUPID, AND THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE DESK NEED TO BE DOING THE SURVEY.
  • BANKRUTPCY AND FINANCIAL LIABILITY. NEW HIRE QUALIICATIONS. PILOT COMPENSATION FOR LESS EXPERIENCED PEOPLE.
  • ATC SYSTEM CAN'T HANDLE NUMBER OF FLIGHTS 2 YEARS AGO

NASA Says Study All But Worthless, AvWeb

"It's hard for me... to see any data here that the traveling public would care about or ought to care about." [Griffin] told puzzled reporters who thought they might be covering a press conference about aviation safety. Instead they witnessed the political lid being firmly closed on an issue that has dogged NASA for two months and which Griffin clearly wanted no more part of."

NASA Offers Airline Safety Data, NY Times

"Mr. Gordon and Representative Brad Miller, Democrat of North Carolina, who is chairman of the investigation and oversight subcommittee, pledged to push NASA further. Mr. Miller said that "if 80 percent of the pilots they ask agree to sit still for a half-hour survey, voluntarily, my conclusion is the pilots had something they wanted others to know about." "This is now 3 years old, and it's been dumped, unanalyzed and scrubbed of much of the useful information," Mr. Miller said."

Redacted Air-Traffic Safety Survey Released, Washington Post

"Jim Hall, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, also criticized the way NASA released its database. "When a government agency is not transparent with the American people, particularly on an issue like safety, they are not fulfilling their responsibilities and earning their pay," Hall said."

Report containing thousands of pilot complaints is released, CNN

"Robert Dodd, the principal investigator on the study for seven years, said he was "disappointed and perplexed" when he learned NASA initially would not make the findings public."

NASA releases a cryptic study of air traffic safety, Houston Chronicle

"We are willing to release the data, but we -- NASA -- are not willing to draw conclusions from it," Griffin said. "NASA does not have any plans to analyze it. That is for the broader community."

Public served poorly by NASA's grudging release of safety data, The Morning Journal

"Without adequate information from NASA about how to look at and interpret the mountain of data, outsiders such as news organizations have a formidable task in trying to understand the problems identified by pilots and then trying to measure the performance of the FAA and aviation industry in dealing with the problems. If that doesn't worry NASA or the aviation industry, it should worry the public. NASA should be forced to present the report's findings in a manner that the public can find meaningful."

NASA Gives Glimpse of Air Safety Survey, AP

"He dismissed suggestions that NASA chose to release the data late on New Year's Eve, when the public is distracted by holidays and news organizations are thinly staffed. "We didn't deliberately choose to release on the slowest news day of the year," Griffin said."

Editor's note: Aw c'mon, Mike. Your staff punted again and again on this until it spilled into the holidays. On 31 October 2007 you testified before Congress that NASA would release the data. Yet it took you more than 2 weeks to issue the memo that would convene the panel that would look at how this could be done. Had you issued that memo on the same day that you appeared before Congress this data could have been released before the holidays. Indeed, had NASA moved to comply with publicly stated interest of Congress - concerns voiced weeks earlier (in October), this information could have been released even sooner. Instead, NASA tried to stall and kick the can down the road - issuing nonsensical comments such as Thomas Luedtke's FOIA resonse to AP:

NASA Sits on Air Safety Survey, AP

"Release of the requested data, which are sensitive and safety-related, could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers and general aviation companies whose pilots participated in the survey," Luedtke wrote in a final [FOIA] denial letter to the AP.

Why Is NASA Sitting on this Airline Safety Report?

NASA National Aviation Operational Monitoring Service (NAOMS) Information Release

"This Web site contains responses collected from the air carrier and general aviation pilot surveys as part of the NASA National Aviation Operational Monitoring Service (NAOMS) project from April 2001 through December 2004. Relevant information is contained in the accompanying documentation. In the interest of timeliness, this first release is by nature conservative to ensure the responses do not contain confidential commercial information or information that could compromise the anonymity of individual pilots. Efforts will be made in 2008 to release additional NAOMS information that was redacted for this release."

Gordon Comments on NASA's Initial Release of Air Safety Survey Data

"At our October 31 hearing, NASA agreed to release the NAOMS data by year's end. I am pleased they've met that initial commitment, however NASA itself concedes that this is not the most complete data set that they intend to release. I expect NASA to complete the data release process as soon as possible. Excessive delay would be in no one's best interest."

NASA Media Briefing to Discuss Release of Aviation Safety Data

"NASA will hold a media teleconference on Monday, Dec. 31 at 1 p.m. EST, to discuss its release of the National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service (NAOMS) data."

NASA expected to release pilot survey, AP

"NASA expected to release results Monday from an $11.3 million federal air safety study it previously withheld from the public over concerns it would upset travelers and hurt airline profits. The research conducted over four years shows that safety problems like near collisions and runway interference occur far more frequently than previously recognized. NASA promised to publish on its Web site some results of its survey. But it indicated that the data being released on the afternoon of New Year's Eve would be published as formatted. It said the data would come in printed reports rather than in any tabular data format that would make analysis by outsiders easier."

Letter from IFPTE To Rep. Gordon Regarding NASA Aviation Safety Research Projects

"It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that categorically refusing to release government-financed aviation safety research data to the public using the argument that it might adversely affect corporate profits is egregiously wrong. We are pleased that all the raw data have been released to your Committee and that NASA has pledged to release all of the properly de-identified data to the public by December 31st, 2007. It is regrettable that this was not NASA HQ's initial decision.

It is, however, worrisome that NASA now appears to be hedging on its public promise of full release of all legally releasable information before the end of the calendar year. It is ridiculous to argue that NASA will take a year and needs to hire expensive outside consultants to handle a data-filtering process that can best be handled by those aviation experts who designed and implemented the survey and who are most experienced at releasing de-identified aviation safety reports. Taxpayers are much more likely to trust this process if it is performed by scientists in the trenches motivated by their passion for aviation safety than if it is led by political appointees or senior managers who cannot be expected to render an opinion that conflicts with that of the Administration."

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale's Blog: The First 'A' in NASA

"Now, every time that I fly, I think about NASA's contributions to our air transportation system, and how remarkable our nation's progress has been in creating a very safe system, over a relatively short span of time, that supports nearly 50,000 flights in a 24-hour period. I am also excited about the possibility of a future system that safely meets our nation's growing demand to take to the skies while ensuring that the environment is protected."

Less Free To Move About The Cabin, Washington Post

"Over the course of a year that many airline passengers would rather forget, most attention has been focused on travel woes created by record-setting flight delays. But another trend may be causing as much havoc and frustration for passengers: Planes have never been so packed, federal data show."

Union Raps NASA Chief, AP

"A union representing NASA employees accuses the agency's administrator of unfairly tarnishing agency employees by disparaging and misrepresenting a federal air safety project. NASA weeks ago drew intense criticism for withholding results of the research, fearing it would upset travelers and hurt airline profits. The union disputed Michael Griffin's criticisms of the program, in which thousands of commercial and private pilots were interviewed. It said his comments to Congress at an oversight hearing in October appeared to reflect fears the pilots might report to NASA higher rates of safety problems than are recorded by Federal Aviation Administration's own monitoring."

Two NASA Pilots Have Died

Editor's note: According to a NASA Watch Reader on Saturday "Two longtime, national level leaders in Civil Air Patrol died when their CAP plane crashed last night on Mt. Potosi just west of Las Vegas, Nevada. Colonel Ed Lewis, former Pacific Region commander and Colonel Dion DeCamp, current Nevada wing commander, were on board the aircraft. A Las Vegas Metro PD helo crew reportedly spotted an explosion on Mt. Potosi and upon investigation found the crash site. The two were enroute to California where the California Wing Conference begins today. Between them, Colonels Lewis and DeCamp had almost 60,000 flying hours as military, commercial, CAP and civilian pilots and the Cessna 182T they were flying was less than a year old. Col. Lewis was also a research pilot for NASA. NOTE: Ed flew the DC-8 flying laboratory and several other NASA science aircraft. He resided at Rosamond Sky Park in California where he kept a Cessna Skylane and a Harmon Rocket. He was the aviation safety officer at Dryden and an instructor pilot for several of their aircraft."

NASA blows millions on flawed airline safety survey, New Scientist

"Has NASA wasted $11.3 million on a flawed survey of airline safety? likely. The agency commissioned a telephone pollster to ask 29,000 pilots about their near misses, runway collisions and technical problems. At first, the poll seemed to show that these events had previously been alarmingly under-reported. Engine failures, for instance, were cited in NASA's survey at four times the rate recorded in the Federal Aviation Administration's incident records."

Airline Survey Update

Two Months Before Release of NASA Pilot Survey Data, Aviation Week

"It started out as a program to identify emerging aviation safety problems. But six years and $11.3 million later, it has mushroomed into a public relations headache for NASA Administrator Michael Griffin that's hurting his credibility with Congress. Now Griffin is working to mollify incensed lawmakers and calm a media frenzy without violating the confidentiality of the 24,000 commercial airline and 5,000 general aviation pilots that participated in the study."

Report: Pilots slept on overnight flight, AP

"Two commercial pilots allegedly fell asleep on a flight between Baltimore and Denver, with one pilot waking up to "frantic" calls from air traffic controllers warning them they were approaching the airport at twice the speed allowed. The March 2004 event, which was discussed during a Congressional hearing Wednesday, was reported by the captain on the flight on NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System, which allows crew members to anonymously document incidents. Details of the "red eye," or late night/early morning flight, including the airline, flight number, or number of passengers aboard are not included in the reporting system. It did note the type of airplane, an Airbus A319, which are flown by Frontier Airlines and United Airlines."

NASA's winking apology - Releasing flying-safety survey by discrediting it?, Opinion, Daytona Beach News-Journal

"It's good to note that the current presidential administration's apparent ban on admitting to mistakes, apologizing and reversing course doesn't apply to all federal government agencies."

House Committee on Science and Technology Committee Members to NASA: Public Has a Right to See U.S. Air Safety Survey Data, House Science Committee

"Chairman Gordon and other Members called on NASA to release the data claiming the public has a right to know about the safety of travel in the nation's skies. Administrator Griffin announced at today's hearing that NASA would release the NOAMS data, reversing NASA's earlier stance. Several questions regarding the specifics of the release still remain, however, and the Committee plans to follow up with NASA to make sure the data is made publicly available in a timely manner."

NASA to release pilot survey - Hall urges balance of transparency and confidentiality, House Science Committee Republicans

"Today, Griffin agreed to release the data, once it is appropriately "scrubbed" to protect the anonymity of the pilots who were surveyed. He also expressed his regret for the language NASA used in responding the FOIA request, saying, "I regret any impression that NASA was in any way trying to put commercial interests ahead of public safety. That was not and never will be the case."

NASA to Release Disputed Data, NY Times

"The administrator of NASA told a Congressional hearing today that his agency would soon release data from tens of thousands of interviews with pilots about safety issues, information that NASA previously said could damage the airline industry. But at the hearing, the administrator, Michael Griffin, and the surveys designers disagreed so deeply about the purpose of the survey and the usefulness of its information that they barely sounded as if they were talking about the same project."

NASA Internal Memo: Message from the Administrator - October 24, 2007

"I have been made aware that a request from the Associated Press for information from a NASA safety survey of airline pilots was withheld under the Freedom of Information Act. The request was for raw data and other aspects of the ongoing project. In a letter to the news organization, one of the several reasons for denying the request for the data cited concerns for "public confidence" and for the "commercial welfare" of air carriers. This rationale was based on case law, but I do not agree with the way it was written. I regret the impression that NASA was in any way trying to put commercial interests ahead of public safety. That was not and will never be the case."

Opposing view: We value openness, Mike Griffin, USA Today

Earth to NASA: Sunlight, not secrecy, is the best way to stop accidents, USA Today

NASA Chief Regrets Agency's Statement, AP

"Sent on behalf of John Sullivan - Director, Center for Advanced Manufacturing (Purdue University)

Due to an emerging issue with aviation safety, NASA Administrator, Michael Griffin has asked Dr. Porter to cancel her trip to Purdue to handle this issue. Again, we will work with NASA to re-schedule her visit to campus. Below is the link to the news article regarding this important issue.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/TRAVEL/10/22/nasa.air.safety.ap/index.html"

NASA Sits on Air Safety Survey, AP

"A senior NASA official, associate administrator Thomas S. Luedtke, said revealing the findings could damage the public's confidence in airlines and affect airline profits. Luedtke acknowledged that the survey results "present a comprehensive picture of certain aspects of the U.S. commercial aviation industry." The AP sought to obtain the survey data over 14 months under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. "Release of the requested data, which are sensitive and safety-related, could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers and general aviation companies whose pilots participated in the survey," Luedtke wrote in a final denial letter to the AP. NASA also cited pilot confidentiality as a reason, although no airlines were identified in the survey, nor were the identities of pilots, all of whom were promised anonymity."

Editor's note: This is a yet another rather dumb public stance for NASA personnel to take. I wonder how the "public" will feel when they learn that their government is openly witholding important information from them regarding their safety?

File Your Own Freedom of Information (FOIA) Request and see what NASA does or does not send you.

Statement by NASA Administrator Mike Griffin on Pilot Survey

"I am reviewing this Freedom of Information Act request to determine what, if any, of this information may legally be made public. NASA should focus on how we can provide information to the public -- not on how we can withhold it. Therefore, I am asking NASA's Associate Administrator for Aeronautics Research, Lisa Porter, to look into this situation, including ensuring that all survey data are preserved, and report to me as soon as possible."

NASA Faces House Hearings on Air Safety, NY Times

"A House committee said Monday that it would hold hearings into why the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is withholding 24,000 responses by pilots for airlines and other companies to a government-sponsored safety survey."

Critics Assail NASA's Refusal to Release Air Safety Survey, Washington Post

"This is like a drug manufacturer finding out through trials that there are problems with a drug and not making the public aware because they don't want to reduce the sales of the drug or scare the public," said Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chairman of the Science and Technology Committee. "It could be enormously helpful in a wide range of areas in trying to understand mishaps."

What NASA Won't Tell You About Air Safety, Slashdot

"According to a report out of Washington, NASA wants to avoid telling you about how unsafe you are when you fly. According to the article, when an $8.5M safety study of about 24,000 pilots indicated an alarming number of near collisions and runway incidents, NASA refused to release the results. The article quotes one congressman as saying 'There is a faint odor about it all.' A friend of mine who is a general aviation pilot responded to the article by saying 'It's scary but no surprise to those of us who fly.'"

Our View: Heads should roll if NASA wont release its airline-safety study., Faye Observer

"And to make sure that none of the information gets out, NASA also has ordered its survey contractor and all subcontractors who worked on it to return any information they have on the project and to dump it from their computers by the end of this month. NASA, of course, has a long and troubled history with safety issues, with tragic and preventable accidents marring a record of epic achievements. At times, the agency simply doesnt get the importance of making safety the No. 1 priority. This is one of those times."

Editorial: Why NASA secrecy?, New Albany Tribune

"The report cost taxpayers not NASA, not Luedtke, but the American taxpayer $8.5 million. The survey was conducted by the Battelle Memorial Institute, which interviewed about 24,000 commercial and private pilots over about four years. Let Luetdkes obfuscation speak for itself:"

Policy on the Release of Information to the News and Information Media, NASA (PDF)

"Principles.

(a) NASA, a scientific and technical agency, is committed to a culture of openness with the media and public that values the free exchange of ideas, data, and information as part of scientific and technical inquiry. Scientific and technical information from or about Agency programs and projects will be accurate and unfiltered.

(b) Consistent with NASA statutory responsibility, NASA will "provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof." Release of public information concerning NASA activities and the results of NASA activities will be made promptly, factually, and completely."

Gordon, Miller, Udall Direct NASA to Halt any Destruction of Records Relating to the NAOMS Project

"By this letter, we are directing NASA to halt any destruction of records relating to the NAOMS project, whether in the possession of the agency or its contractors, and as defined in the attached Appendix. Destruction of documents requested as part of a Congressional inquiry is a violation of criminal federal law. 18 U.S.C. 1505."

Help Find Steve Fossett

Steve Fossett Challenges

Steve Fossett Missing: Help find him by searching satellite imagery, AmazonMechanicalTurk.com

"On Monday, September 3, 2007, Steve Fossett, the first person to fly a plane around the world without refueling and the first person to fly around the world in a balloon went missing in Nevada. An airplane he was flying failed to return. No one has any idea where he is. Through the generous efforts of individuals at several organizations, detailed satellite imagery has been made available for his last known whereabouts."

Steve Fossett Is Missing

Branson hopes to trace Fossett with Google images, Reuters

"I'm talking with friends at Google about seeing whether we can look at satellite images over the last four days to see whether they can see which direction he might have been flying and whether they can see any disturbances anywhere that they can pin from space," he said from Barcelona, Spain.

Fossett's latest adventure was attempt to break land speed record, AP

"Adventurer Steve Fossett has had a lifetime of daring achievements, most of them at high altitude. His latest record-setting dream brought him back to terra firma. Fossett's small plane disappeared Monday as he was scouting dry lake beds in western Nevada, apparently searching for an optimum spot to set a world land speed record."

FAA Head Moves to AIA

FAA administrator takes job with aerospace lobby, Reuters

"The administrator of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration was named chief executive of the Aerospace Industries Association on Tuesday, the top lobbying group for aerospace manufacturers. Marion Blakey's five-year term at FAA ends on Sept. 13. She will remain with the agency until that time, a spokeswoman said."

Exciting NASA Air Competition Full of Dull Planes, Gizmodo

"NASA handed out $250,000 in prize money this weekend to aircraft designers who competed in a competition to create personal air-vehicles. But don't be fooled by the picture and think that the event was full of flying cars, experimental planes and UFO-shaped discsall the entrants were standard-looking planes, as you will see in the videos after the jump. The event was part of the Centennial Challenges, the government-sponsored competitions that aim to have us all flying to the office in the morning and taking holidays on the moon as soon as possible. The money was given out in six categories: speed, short takeoff, efficiency, handling, noise and overall best."

Don't Fly on JetBlue

Held Prisoner on JetBlue - The Airline That is Afraid To Fly, SpaceRef

"I used to like JetBlue. Not any more. Just a month and a half ago I found myself on the inaugural flight from San Francisco to New York with Jet Blue's CEO aboard. The service was good that day. But not today. Indeed, today I felt like a prisoner."

Committee Examines the Progress and Problems of the Next Generation Air Transportation System Initiative

"Hope and good intentions by themselves are not going to be sufficient to ensure success," added Chairman Udall."We are going to need commitment, accountability and ultimately, effective performance by all involved...and I am troubled by indications that all may not be going as well as hoped with the NextGen effort."

Joint Planning and Development Office: Progress and Key Issues in Planning the Transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System, GAO

Rep. Ken Calvert Concerned Over NASA's Restructured Role In Developing NextGen

Editor's note: Word has it that an Airbus 380 - which landed at Dulles Airport last night - will be doing a flyover up, down, and around the Potomac and Washington, DC today between 11:15 and 12:30. The idea is to get photos of this uber monster plane set against the U.S. Capitol building - thus rubing our collective noses in this accomplishment (I suppose). Heads Up Lisa Porter - competition overhead!

Editor's 11:18 am EDT note: I just saw this monster fly over my house (I live close to Dulles) heading Southeast toward Washington. It looks to be the size of a C5A - but much more graceful.

ARC's Hangar One Saved?

Hangar One rumor confirmed, Mountain View Voice

"Marv Christensen, NASA deputy director, told a local newspaper that any plan would require a "synergistic" partnership with the companies, the names of which were not disclosed. Despite rumors to the contrary, Google reportedly said it has no need for an airstrip, and eBay founder Jeff Skoll also claims to have no involvement in the talks."

Analysis of New National Aeronautics R&D Policy and Next-Gen Aerospace Work Force Needs, AIAA

"On Wednesday, January 10, Richard Russell, assistant director for technology from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, will provide an analysis of the new National Aeronautics R&D Policy. This national roadmap provides institutional support for robust, sustainable aeronautics research investment and requires federal agencies to set definable milestones for achievement."

-Aeronautics Policy Released While Everyone is On Vacation
-Workforce Session at AIAA Reno Meeting

45th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, 8-11 January

Thursday, 11-Jan-2007: The Public Policy Committee will continue its Excellence in Aerospace Discourse Series at the Aerospace Sciences Meeting with a discussion on the next generation of aerospace professionals. Speakers include:

  • Dr. Paul Nielsen, President-Elect for AIAA and Director of Carnegie Mellon Universitys Software Engineering Institute
  • Dr. Lisa Porter, Associate Administrator for Aeronautics at NASA
  • Dr. Annalisa Weigel, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics and Engineering Systems at MIT
  • Dr. Robert Walters, President-Elect for the Aerospace Department Chairman's Association and Chairman of Virginia Tech's Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering.

President Bush Signs Executive Order Establishing National Aeronautics Research and Development Policy

"President Bush signed an Executive Order (EO) establishing the nations first Aeronautics Research and Development Policy. The EO was accompanied by release of a supporting Policy document developed by the Aeronautics Science and Technology (S&T) Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The overarching goal of the Policy is to advance U.S. technological leadership in aeronautics by fostering a vibrant and dynamic aeronautics research and development (R&D) community that includes government, industry, and academia."

National Aeronautics Research and Development Policy
Executive Order: National Aeronautics Research and Development

Editor's 21 Dec 2006 note: Once again the White House has slipped a policy related to NASA's Charter out the back door while no one was looking. NASA posted links to these materials on its website but apprently does not see any value in issuing a press release. This is rather odd given all of the talk by Mike Griffin - before Congress - about the need for such a policy. Yet despite this oversight, PAO did manage to get a release titled "NASA's KSC Providing Assistance to Santa on Christmas Eve" out to an eager world.

Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow 20 October 2006: NASA Excerpt

"Q Tony, can you say a few words about the new Bush space policy that was released, strangely enough, on a Friday afternoon before Columbus Day, on the website of the Office of Science and Technology --

MR. SNOW: You mean the strategy that, strangely enough, was announced in July?

Q No, it was put on the website on the weekend of Columbus Day."

Why is NASA so Shy ABout Promoting the News White House Space Policy?, earlier post

OMB Deputy Director Johnson Thinks NASA's Mission Statements are "Baloney"

Wright Brothers Day, 2006 - A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

"Today, our Nation follows the Wright brothers' example of innovation as we continue to explore the frontiers of air and space. My Administration has outlined a vision for space exploration that includes a return to the Moon and a long term human and robotic program to explore Mars and the solar system. By working to expand the realm of the possible, we can gain a better understanding of the universe and continue the journey that the Wright brothers began more than a century ago."

House Science Committee Leaders Urge Implementation of Aeronautics Report Recommendations

"The Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Science Committee and the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics today called on the Administration to implement the recommendations in a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the challenges of creating a new air traffic control system, known as the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS)."

Propulsion lab work at Marshall to pick up, Huntsville Times

"Advanced propulsion is just like aeronautics. It is something NASA and America has been on the cutting edge of for decades," said Keith Cowing, who runs the NASAWatch.com Web site. "Cut this type of research, and America runs the risk of losing that edge, and other nations will zoom ahead." Cowing said the lab hasn't been used much because "that building is an echo of things begun under former administrators Dan Goldin and Sean O'Keefe." Advanced propulsion was part of a Goldin-era Space Launch Initiative program, and O'Keefe supported finding ways to increase spacecraft speeds to travel to Mars and other planets."

Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics: Foundation for the Future, Steering Committee for the Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics, National Research Council

"The U.S. air transportation system is very important for our economic well-being and national security. The nation is also the global leader in civil and military aeronautics, a position that needs to be maintained to help assure a strong future."

Virtual Flying at ARC

NASA's virtual space exploration, CNet

"NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley is home to SimLabs--simulation laboratories where you can take control of a virtual airport or explore the skies and space with the Vertical Motion Simulator. Take a look inside the facility."

House Science Committee Democrats Question Wisdom of NASA's Plans to Cut and Restructure Aeronautics Research Program

"Yet, instead of investing more in the highly productive aeronautics enterprise that has been built up within NASA and its predecessor organization over the last nine decades, NASA is in the process of dismantling those capabilities as it turns its attention elsewhere and reallocates resources to new ventures," added Rep. Udall."

House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee to Examine NASA Aeronautics Program Tomorrow

"Tomorrow, the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the response of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences on how NASA should run its civil aeronautics research and development (R&D) program."

Talking Points: Full Cost Management and Overhead Simplification, NASA HQ

"While it appears that the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) will take a significant hit as a result of this accounting change, the overhead simplification structure is a good thing for ARMD."

  • Earlier Aeronautics Postings
  • Testimony: Lisa Porter
  • Fundamental Aeronautics Program Fact Sheets
  • Testimony: Gen. William Hoover (Air Force, retired)
  • Supplemental power point slides from Gen. Hoover's testimony
  • Opening Statement by Rep. Mark Udall
  • NASA: National Academy Recommendations Closely Aligned With New Aeronautics Portfolio
  • House Science Committee Democrats Question Wisdom of NASA's Plans to Cut and Restructure Aeronautics Research Program
  • Letter from NASA Administrator Griffin to Rep. Wolf Regarding Workforce Issues

    Letter from NASA AA for Legislative Affairs Chase to Rep. Kucinich Regarding Workforce Issues

    Talking Points: Full Cost Management and Overhead Simplification, NASA HQ

    "While it appears that the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) will take a significant hit as a result of this accounting change, the overhead simplification structure is a good thing for ARMD. ARMD will still have the same direct buying power. ARMD will not lose research dollars. But the change will free ARMD from the fiscal responsibility of having to carry the majority of overhead costs for the four research Centers."

    NASA LaRC Internal Memo From Lesa Roe Regarding B-757

    "The Associate Administrator of Aeronautics Research has informed NASA Langley that, based on the comprehensive restructuring of the Aeronautics Program, there is no NASA Aeronautics Program need for the B-757 beyond September 30, 2006."

    What Lisa Porter Said - And What NASA Wants You To Think She Said, earlier posting

    "...from ARMD's perspective, we do not see a need to specifically maintain the 757 in our arsenal."

    Previous aeronautics postings

    Nature-Inspired Wonder

    Lockheed Martin to Design Nano Air Vehicle to Monitor the Urban Battlefield

    "Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories (ATL) leads a team that will design a remote-controlled NAV, similar in size and shape to a maple tree seed. A chemical rocket enclosed in its one-bladed wing will power a sensor payload module more than 1,100 yards. Delivered from a hover and weighing up to 0.07 ounces, the module will be interchangeable based on mission requirements. Besides controlling lift and pitch, the wing will also house telemetry, communications, navigation, imaging sensors, and battery power. The NAV will be about 1.5 inches long and have a maximum takeoff weight of about 0.35 ounces."

    I'm Confused, Mike

    Remarks by NASA Administrator Griffin at the Space Foundation Dinner, Farnborough International Airshow

    Editor's note: Mike Griffin states: "However, as we try to meet this challenge, the answer is not for NASA to re-organize or abandon one of its core missions to focus on the other two, as some pundits have recommended be done with our aeronautics research program."

    Then, a few moments later he says: "In restructuring our aeronautics portfolio, we are taking a long- term, strategic approach to our research to ensure that we pursue the cutting-edge of research across the breadth of aeronautics disciplines required to support revolutionary capabilities in both air vehicles and the airspace in which they fly."

    So, let me see if I understand this: it is unacceptable to Mike Griffin to "reorganize" NASA's aeronautics program - but it is OK to "restructure" the very same program. When you "restructure" something, don't you need to "reorganize" as part of the process?

    I'm confused, Mike.

    Reader note: "I just came from an "all-hands" meeting for the Flight Research Services Division (FRSD) at NASA LaRC. We were given official notice that NASA Langley has been ordered to mothball its B757 research aircraft. The 757 aircraft is to be stored at Dryden in a "flight-ready" status. Apparently the Hill was told this last night."

    NRC Report: Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics: Foundation for the Future, NRC

    "With leadership comes opportunity, particularly with regard to setting international standards for aircraft certification and operations. A position of continued leadership would allow the United States to ensure that viable, global standards continue to be established for the application of emerging technologies and operational concepts. Without such standards the global aviation market and the global transportation system will be fractured into separate fiefdoms ruled by national and regional aviation authorities acting independently."

    Going global - Playing with the big boys in aviation means playing with Airbus, Opinion, Daily Press

    "Subsidization could work both ways. An Airbus contract would help support researchers and facilities that would be available for other, homeland-focused work. It might help stop the loss of jobs at NASA Langley, which totaled 600 last year. Europe's investment in aeronautics research would, in effect, help fill the gap left by the United States' abandonment of it as a priority."

    Editor's note: As I have said before, on one hand, I think it is great that companies such as Airbus are committed to supporting such research and that their interest goes beyond political boundaries. However, on the other hand, I think the need to seek such foreign support is a sad indicator of the state of aeronautical research - both government and private sector - here in the U.S.

    Space-age education, Daily Press

    "Money from Europe for aeronautical research? Bring it on, says Bob Lindberg, president and chief executive of the National Institute of Aerospace, answering critics of his organization's courtship of business from Airbus, which is owned by Belgian and British interests."

    Editor's note: On one hand, I think it is great that companies such as Airbus are committed to supporting such research and that their interest goes beyond political boundaries. However, on the other hand, I think the need to seek such foreign support is a sad indicator of the state of aeronautical research - both government and private sector - here in the U.S.

    Association of American Universities Letter to Rep. Wolf Regarding FY 2007 Funding for NASA Science and Aeronautics

    "As president of the Association of American Universities (AAU), representing 60 leading U.S. public and private research universities, I respectfully request that, as you develop the FY07 Science, State, Justice, and Commerce Appropriation Act, you strive to appropriate no less than $5.5 billion and $959 million in federal funding for NASA's science and aeronautics mission directorates respectively."

    Editor's note: Looks like LaRC management made sure that their workforce saw the Porter all hands. Now if only the rest of the world could see (or read) what she actually said. See following memo:

    NRC Report on NASA's civil aeronautics program

    "Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics Foundation for the Future, a new report from the National Academies' National Research Council, provides a list of high-priority aeronautics research projects NASA should pursue to improve the air transportation system and help the U.S. remain a world leader in the field."

    Editor's note: Sources report that Aeronautics AA Lisa Porter went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday afternoon. LaRC officials were also asked to meet yesterday (Thursday) with Sen. Warner's office - that delegation consisted of LaRC Center Director Lesa Roe, Dave Hinton, and Howard Lewis. Yesterday I submitted a request to HQ PAO asking for a verbatim transcript of Porter's LaRC all hands (which J.D. Harrington have told me that they have) and asked for additional information on these Congressional visits.

    Editor's update: I just got a call from Harrington who confirmed these two visits and said that Porter's visit to the Senate Appropriations Committee was scheduled "weeks ago". Harrington would not tell me what was discussed during these visits. In addition, he told me that they do not have a transcript of the entire Porter all hands event and that he only had a portion (the 757 question) transcribed. When I asked why the entire event was not transcribed (so as to dispel confusion) he said that this was not PAO policy to do so and that the "target" audience heard what she had to say. I suggested posting audio recordings (i.e. podcasts) so that there would be no confusion over what was - or was not said - and he said he would forward that suggestion to his management.

    What Lisa Porter Said - And What NASA Wants You To Think She Said (earlier post)

    Langley's "flying lab" could be on chopping block, AP

    NASA 757's fate is up in the air, Daily Press

    "Lisa Porter, associate director for NASA's Aeronautics Research Management Division in Washington, D.C., has told employees at NASA Langley that her group questions the need for research airplanes in general. "We did not see a need to specifically have the 757," she said in a meeting at Langley that was not open to reporters."

    Editor's 30 May 2006 5:42 pm EDT note: At an all hands meeting at LaRC today, NASA AA for Aeronautics, Lisa Porter, told the audience that NASA "does not need research aircraft". She then specifically cited LaRC's Boeing 757 as "no longer needed."

    Editor's 31 May 2006 4:02 pm EDT note: NASA LaRC just posted this summary of Porter's all hands talk yesterday. Alas, the summary is mostly fluff and chock full of buzz words and Powerpoint sentences. No mention is made of the topics raised during the question and answer portion of the event - other than mentioning that she answered questions. And of course, nothing whatsoever is mentioned about the issue of whether or not LaRC's 757 will contine to fly. Yet NASA PAO contacts me to selectively quote from a verbatim transcript of the entire event. You would think that an agency interested in full and open communication with its employees would post such a transcript as soon as it was available - instead of keeping to themsleves - except for using excerpts to correct troublesome websites.

    Editor's 31 May 1:58 pm EDT Update: I got the following from J.D. Harrington at 1:58 pm EDT today with reard to a posting I made yesterday at 5:42 pm EDT. My posting yesterday was based on 3 separate LaRC employee recollections of the "take home message" from what Lisa Porter said at yesterday's all hands. I have yet to find any evidence that this transcript has been posted - officially - anywhere at NASA.

    "Hi Keith, I'm the Aeronautics public affairs officer and I wanted to make sure you had the exact dialogue from Lisa Porter's all-hands at Langley. It is different from your posting yesterday. I pulled the transcripts from her speech and follow-up Q&A, and she was specifically asked about flight simulators and large expansive complex devices. Here's her response:

    Changes Needed to Spur Innovation in Aerospace Technologies, National Research Council

    "NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) faces serious challenges to the innovative use of its research results because of inadequate budgets and a lack of agreement on ARMD's future direction, says a new report from the National Research Council."

    Bruce Peterson, pilot of NASA 'lifting body' aircraft, dies at 72, AP

    "Bruce A. Peterson, a NASA test pilot who flew the wingless "lifting body" vehicles that led to development of the space shuttles and survived a filmed crash that became part of the opening scenes of "The Six Million Dollar Man" TV show, has died. He was 72."

    Elegant Aerospace Design

    Canopy on one of Langley's Raptors sticks shut on pilot, Daily Press

    "Air Force pilots can't wait to get into the F-22A Raptor, the newest, fastest thing in fighter planes. But on a recent morning, Capt. Brad Spears had to wait about five hours to get out of one that was parked at Langley Air Force Base."

    In The Loop, Washington Post (scroll past first story)

    "What do you do when the canopy on a new F-22A fighter jet doesn't open and the pilot is trapped inside for five hours? Get out the chainsaws. That's what maintenance technicians at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia did a couple weeks ago after calling Lockheed Martin Corp., the plane's manufacturer, to find out how to free the pilot."

    F-22 03-041 Stuck Canopy TSgt Robinson 1st MXG/MXQ - briefing charts

    On 10 April 06 at approximately 0815 aircraft 03-041 had a Red Ball for a canopy unlock indication. Attempts to clear the problems by cycling the canopy failed. The final cycling of the canopy resulted in it being in the down and locked position. The canopy would not cycle up form this position trapping the pilot in the cockpit. The aircraft subsequently ground aborted.

    NASA Administrator's Statement Regarding the Tragic Loss of Aviation Pioneer A. Scott Crossfield

    "Today, those of us in the aeronautics and space communities extend our condolences and deepest sympathies to Scott's family."

    Search for plane of legendary pilot Crossfield finds wreck, AP

    "Crews searching for a missing airplane registered to legendary test pilot Scott Crossfield found the wreckage of a small plane with a body inside Thursday, but they didn't immediately identify the victim."

    Editor's note: Reliable sources tell NASA Watch that the body is indeed Crossfield's.

    NASA Langley courting Airbus, Daily Press

    "At a time when the country is concerned about losing its edge in aeronautical technology, the National Institute of Aerospace and NASA Langley Research Center are courting business with Airbus, the chief foreign competitor of the U.S. aerospace industry. If the three agree to work together, it would create the odd situation of research institutions funded by U.S. taxpayers helping a foreign business gain a competitive edge."

    Airbus is visiting NASA LaRC, earlier post

    State of the Union: American Competitiveness Initiative

    "In His State Of The Union Address, President Bush Announced The American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) To Encourage American Innovation And Strengthen Our Nation's Ability To Compete In The Global Economy."

    Editor's note: It would seem that the White House has a structural inconsistency in its policies for dealing with global competitiveness. It would appear that NASA is off trying to seek financial assistance from a foreign government-supported monopoly to replace budgetary support that the U.S. government is no longer willing to provide for its own (aero)space agency. If this is the best that Lisa Porter can do - I am not impressed.

    X-37 Flies, MSNBC

    "The bad news is that the vehicle experienced an "anomaly" and went off the runway, DARPA spokeswoman Jan Walker told me. The X-37 team is investigating what went wrong, and no further information was available immediately, Walker said."

    Editor's note:Airbus is visiting NASA LaRC today. What follows is the day's itinerary:

    X-37 Update

    X-37 Flies Captive...Again (with photos), Mojave Weblog

    "March 24, 2006 - It wasn't planned that way, of course, but the NASA/DARPA/Boeing X-37 got an extra captive carry flight under its belt this morning. It was supposed to be the vehicle's first free-flight, with a landing over at Roger's Dry Pond (aka Edwards AFB), and for once the Mojave weather was actually cooperative. But the microwaves weren't."

    X-37 Flight Tomorrow

    Editor's note: According to our X-37 watcher the Free Flight 1 of an X-37 is now scheduled for 6AM PST on Friday,
    24-Mar-2006. Weather looks good.

    IFPTE: NASA Aeronautics Amendment Passes

    "The IFPTE supported NASA Aeronautics funding amendment described in the attached letter passed the Senate yesterday by Unanimous Consent. The amendment passed as a part of the Senate's consideration of the FY07 Budget bill."

    IFPTE Supported NASA Aeronautics Amendment - Sen. Mike DeWine To Offer, IFPTE

    "To All IFPTE Locals: Attached is a letterwe sent yesterday to everySenate officeexpressing IFPTE's support for two potential amendments to be offered by Sen. Mike DeWine (R, OH) this week. As you can see, the amendments are intended to be offered during consideration of the FY07 Budget bill, and are aimed at restoring the funding for NASA's aeronautics programs to last year's levels."

    MSFC wind tunnel crucial to analyzing spacecraft designs, Huntsville Times

    "The government has several large wind tunnels around the country, including Arnold Air Force Base near Tullahoma, Tenn., NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia and the Ames Research Center near San Francisco. "We can do for just thousands of dollars on a series of tests what it would take hundreds of thousands or millions on a larger tunnel," Haynes said. "For the government, it's a cost-effective way to gather engineering data."

    Editor's note: Video of Lisa Porter's recent Aeronautics presentation is now online at the AIAA website. You'll need to register (for free) to view it.

    Fossett Breaks Record

    Pilot Steve Fossett breaks world flight distance record, landing in England, AP

    "Adventurer Steve Fossett completed the longest nonstop flight in aviation history Saturday, flying 26,389 miles in about 76 hours, but he had to land early because of mechanical problems."

    Fossett Begins His Trip

    Steve Fossett and the GlobalFlyer Depart From NASA's Kennedy Space Center Runway

    "The Virgin Atlantic Airways GlobalFlyer aircraft took off today from NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility, Fla., at 7:22 a.m. EST. The effort is an attempt to set a new world record for the longest flight made by any aircraft."

    Track Fossett's Progress Live

    Aeronautics Cuts Ahead

    Delegates to push NASA's vision at budget hearing, Daily Press

    "The president's NASA budget for fiscal year 2007 is expected to be about $17.9 billion, up from $16.2 billion a year ago. But the aeronautics request is expected to be $694.4 million, down 14 percent."

    Next year could be even tougher for Langley, Virginian-Pilot

    "Langley jobs are safe through next year, thanks to legislation that Virginias delegation helped push through last month that protects NASAs aeronautics workers from layoffs through March 16, 2007."

    NASA Restructures Aeronautics Research

    "NASA is returning to long-term investment in cutting-edge fundamental research in traditional aeronautics disciplines," Porter said. "We are investing in research for the long-term in areas that are appropriate to NASA's unique capabilities and meeting our charter of addressing national needs and benefiting the public good."

    NASA's FY 2007 Budget Submission to OMB, NASA Watch

    Aeronautics Research: FY 2006: $807.4 M | FY 2007: $694.4 M | Delta: -14.0%

    New Aeronautics AA

    NASA Names New Aeronautics Associate Administrator

    "NASA Administrator Michael Griffin today named veteran scientist Lisa J. Porter as associate administrator for the Aeronautics Mission Directorate. She will lead the agency's aeronautics research efforts and continue to lead NASA's efforts in the development of national aeronautics policy in cooperation with other government agencies."

    For a summary of the scrambling that has been going on in Aeronautics have a look at Aeronautics: Hurry Up and Wait, NASA Watch

    Editor's note: Please fix your website too. Vic Lebacqz hasn't been the "Assoicate" Administrator for Aeronautics for quite some time.

    NASA's first 'A' is still important to U.S. economy , OpEd, The Hill

    "I urge conferees to embrace the $906.2 million figure for NASA aeronautics research in the 2006 science, state, justice, commerce and related agencies appropriations bill. "

    Deadly Plane Crash In Oklahoma City, KOTV

    Reader note: "Marta Bohn-Meyer, Chief Engineer at the DFRC was killed in a crash in Oklahoma today. She was practicing for the Aeronautical Aerobatics trials upcoming. Husband, Bob Meyers, was also there. He is an Associate Director at DFRC."

    Aeronautics: Hurry Up and Wait

    NASA Advisory Council Aeronautics Research Advisory Committee Meetings Cancelled

    "Tuesday, September 20, 2005, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday, September 21, 2005, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, September 19, 2005, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday, September 14, 2005, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, September 8, 2005, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. These meetings will be rescheduled."

    Internal NASA Memo Regarding Upcoming Aeronautics Workshops

    "I apologize for the quick timeline. It is my goal to present a solid plan to both OMB and Congress as quickly as possible, and I need your help in pulling a plan together that is technically sound. It is very challenging to define a long-term plan that is sufficiently dynamic that it allows for adaptation as we learn new things, and that at the same time defines concrete milestones that are technically meaningful and credible."

    Prepared Statement of Michael Griffin before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, 12 May 2005

    "As we move forward, a broader national dialog on aeronautics R&D goals may be appropriate as we enter the second century of aviation. These discussions should include a range of stakeholders and customers, including the Congress. This process could lead to a national consensus for aeronautics R&D goals."

    Short Summary of H.R. 3070 The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005 [passed on 22 Jul 2005]

    "The bill requires the President, through the Administrator to develop a national aeronautics policy to guide NASA's aeronautics programs. The report is due with the President's FY 2007 budget request."

    Editor's note: Gee, Didn't Mike Griffin say that he wanted to come up with an aeronautics plan months ago? Didn't the agency get a heads up from H.R. 3070 that such a plan needed to be developed ASAP? Why is there now such a 'quick timeline' to work on this plan according to Lisa Porter? FY 2007 budget preparation work should now be underway. Wouldn't you want to have that plan in final form so as to guide that work - instead of having the plan being developed in parallel - as is now the case?

    Sen. Allen loses fight for NASA funding, Daily Press

    "The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which oversees NASA, said Allen's plan to avoid a 6 percent cut in aeronautics funding next year would undermine President Bush's top priority for NASA: returning man to the moon by 2020 as a stepping stone to Mars."

    Changes in Aeronautics

    NASA Internal Memo From J. Victor Lebacqz Regarding Aeronautics Personnel Changes

    "Yesterday I learned that, because of the respect the new people have for all of you as we have been dealing with issues and trying to accomplish new beginnings in Aeronautics, I was not given a directed reassignment. Nonetheless, the Administrator does want to bring in a complete new management team, and that includes Associate Administrator for Aeronautics. It was emphasized to me that this is not in the same category as the directed reassignments. The A suite intends that the transition will be handled carefully and in as transparent a way as possible, and they are committed to working closely with me to ensure this over the next several months. I am also assured that I will not be treated as lame duck but as a fully engaged AA, and I certainly intend to operate that way as we continue to work hard to turn around the situation in NASA aeronautics."

    Hampton Update

    NASA wind tunnel fees under review, Daily Press

    "NASA Headquarters is working on taking the bite out of an accounting measure that has caused Langley Research Center wind tunnel rates to increase in recent years."

    NASA redoing job reviews, Daily Press

    "Rerunning the process could improve job offers for some and give others a second chance at employment, Langley spokeswoman Marny Skora said. But the fear is that NASA might retract job offers made to some workers in April, said Marie Lane, president of the local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees."

    Are we there yet? No. But we could be, with the right investments (Opinion), Daily Press

    "The SATS show marks the culmination of a five-year partnership of NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and an industry group called the National Consortium for Aviation Mobility. It was headquartered at our own NASA Langley Research Center. The point of the program was to prove the system will work. It will."

    Aviation experts remain optimistic about small aircraft technology, Daily Press

    "Will NASA's declining aeronautics budget support future work in the Small Aircraft Transportation System, or will it fall off the agency's radar screen?"

    House panel restores funds for aeronautics, Daily Press

    "Among other things, the bill would cut $10 million from the International Space Station and $10 million from launch services for the space shuttle. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who heads a Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA, has said she would oppose any effort to divert money from the space station to aeronautics."

    U.S., EU to Clash Over Airplane Subsidies, AP

    "The United States and Europe, both bruised from a number of high-profile trade battles in recent years, are now preparing for what could be one of the biggest fights yet over government subsidies to commercial airline manufacturers."

    NASA funding orbits off course (Opinion), Virginia Pilot

    "With limited funds and a yawning budget deficit, there simply aren't enough bucks to pay for both space exploration and aeronautics research. Is it wise to do both? Sure, Americans glean some benefit from space exploration. But aeronautics funding is arguably a better, more practical investment for our everyday lives."

    Editor's note: The (unknown) author of this OpEd piece doesn't bother to explain why aeronautics funding is "arguably a better, more practical investment for our everyday lives." As such one has to assume that this all comes down to jobs - jobs that will be lost in Hampton.

    Chief tells NASA workers that aeronautics isn't a priority now, Times Dispatch

    "In his first visit to Langley Research Center since taking the helm at NASA, Michael Griffin told employees that their aeronautics expertise has fallen off the national priority list."

    NASA leader ''blunt'' but hopeful in Langley talk, Pilot Online

    "With budget cuts and as many as 1,000 layoffs looming, NASA's new administrator didn't try to put a positive spin on the road ahead for Langley Research Center."

    Editor's note: The NASA Aeronautical Technologies Strategic Roadmap Committee Meeting has been formally cancelled. No explanation given.

    Rep. Udall Introduces Legislation to Preserve U.S. Prominence in Aeronautics

    "Today, Rep. Udall introduced legislation aimed at reinvigorating U.S. aeronautics research. The Aeronautics Research and Development Revitalization Act of 2005 intends to reverse the decline in NASA's aeronautics program and set it on a productive course for the future."

    Douglass: R&D Report Should be a Wake-Up Call to Congress, AIA

    "A comprehensive report on U.S. aeronautics research and development is a stark signal that elected officials must invest more money in technical advancements, AIA President and CEO John Douglass said.The alternative is conceding dominance in aerospace to Europe and the rest of the world, a choice the U.S. cannot afford for national defense reasons as well as economics, Douglass said."

    Aeronautics ..., Opinion, Daily Press

    "It will take considerable will for Congress to reverse the now presidential-fueled juggernaut that threatens to dismantle this nation's capacity for aeronautical innovation and domination. There is no doubt that to George Bush and his new NASA administrator, aeronautics is not a priority and will be sacrificed to make room in the budget for Bush's manned space odyssey."

    National Institute of Aerospace Releases Congressionally-Requested Aviation Plan

    "The full 1000+ page report provides detailed investment plans, budgets, and needs assessments for seven aeronautics sectors. The sectors addressed are airspace systems, aviation safety and security, subsonic aircraft, supersonic aircraft, hypersonic technologies, rotorcraft, and workforce and education. The milestones within each sector establish how the budget augmentations will affect our national needs. The full report details how an increase in each sector will benefit our aeronautics research as a whole and provides details of the team's proposed NASA five-year budget plan."

    Report contradicts Bush NASA plan, Daily Press

    "NASA should spend billions more dollars on aeronautics research to keep the United States from slipping further behind Europe, according to a new strategic plan prepared for Congress. If implemented - and that's a big if - the plan would restore aeronautics funding to 1998 levels and likely soften drastic budget cuts that the Bush administration has planned for NASA Langley Research Center, industry observers say."

    National Institute of Aerospace

    A380 Successfully Completes Its First Flight, Airbus

    Airbus A380 Completes Historic 1st Flight, AP

    "The world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, completed a maiden flight Wednesday that took it over the Pyrenees mountains, a milestone for aviation and for the European aircraft-maker's battle with American rival Boeing Co."

    Rep. Frank Wolf: FY 2006 SSJC Bill WIll Require Adminstration to Develop National Aeronautics Policy

    "I support the president's new vision for space exploration. However, it is imperative that we not forget the importance of aeronautics research to our domestic economy. NASA appears to be moving forward with a significantly reduced aeronautics budget and a new research agenda without having a firm road map for the future."

    Wolf: NASA funding will be restored, Daily Press

    "Congressman Frank R. Wolf , R-Va., chairman of the subcommittee on NASA appropriations, said he would restore the $54 million that would be cut under President Bush's budget proposal."

    Editor's update: 6:00 PM EDT - According to a knowledgeable Congressional source, "there is a chance that Dr. Griffin's confirmation by the full Senate may happen tonight. It may be done by unanimous consent, without a committee vote."

    Vote on NASA nominee delayed, Daily Press

    "A Senate committee delayed a vote on President Bush's nominee to head NASA on Tuesday, after Sen. George Allen of Virginia complained that rocket scientist Michael Griffin didn't adequately explain his position on aeronautics research."

    Editor's note: Congressional sources note that Sen. Frist has expresed interest in holding the Senate in session on Thursday to vote on Griffin's nomination. Formal swearing in for Griffin would be held on Monday morning, followed by an all-hands address to the agency. Those plans may now be slightly delayed due to Sen. Allen's actions.

    Editor's update: Congressional sources tell NASA Watch that Allen's concerns about aeronautics have been satisfied and that Allen has released the hold he had placed on Griffin's nomination.

    Editor's update: I just got a note (2:20 pm EST) originating from the Senate Commerce Committee: "Senate Commerce Committee Co-Chairmen Ted Stevens and Daniel Inouye have added the nomination of Dr. Michael Griffin to be the NASA administrator to the Committee's previously scheduled mark-up at 10am on Thursday, April 14 in room 253 of the Russell Building."

    Stay order, Opinion, Daily Press

    "Virginia's congressional delegation must move aggressively to try to stop NASA from demolishing that infrastructure. Advocating for aeronautics is a battle that must be fought on many fronts - one defending budgets, one protecting facilities."

    NAC Aeronautics Research Advisory Committee Meeting, Federal Register

    "Previously Announced Dates and Addresses of Meeting: Wednesday, March 23, 2005, 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.; National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 300 E Street, SW., Room 6H46, Washington, DC 20546. Changes in the Meeting: Date changed to May 3, 2005, 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m."

    Editor's note: I find it curious how NASA HQ waited a week (29 March) after the original meeting date (23 March) - a meeting which obviously did not happen as planned - to announce a new meeting date more than a month away (3 May). Could it be last minute jitters on NASA's part - and that no one is quite ready to talk about what is happening to aeronautics at NASA? Stay tuned.

    NASA Glenn in 'tougher fight' to survive Bush budget cuts, Cleveland Plain Dealer

    "The battle to save NASA Glenn Research Center, slated to lose 700 workers and $120 million by next year, will be tougher than previous threats to the federal space lab's survival, U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine said Monday. "I will be candid. I think this is going to be a tougher fight," said DeWine, in town to meet with center Director Julian Earls and employees..."

    Other Voices: NASA is important to us all, Op ed, Sen. George Allen, Daily Press

    "I realize that aeronautics funding is an extremely important issue for the Hampton Roads community and, more specifically, those who work at NASA Langley. I'm committed to advancing aeronautics because I believe it benefits America's national security and future competitiveness. As governor and now as a U.S. senator, I will continue to fight hard to bring and keep good-paying jobs in Virginia."

    Aeronautic innovations are at risk as NASA's focus turns to space, Virginia Pilot

    "In 1997, Goldin suggested closing wind tunnels and possibly a center. Those close to Langley feared that the Hampton center would be the one. Mayors of Hampton and Newport News and community representatives formed the NASA Aeronautics Support Team to save the center and its jobs. The wind tunnels and the center survived. But Langleys budget has not seen significant increases since."

    Jump and shout - Tell Congress you care about aeronautics and NASA Langley (anonymous opinion), Daily Press

    "A lot of the reassurances that come out of Washington aren't very reassuring. So Vic Lebacqz will surely understand that his reassurance that NASA doesn't plan to close Langley Research Center in Hampton would be a lot more reassuring if it were accompanied by bigger budgets and a growing work force at the center. Instead, the trend is all in the other direction."

    Other Voices: The threat to NASA Langley, (opinion), Daily Press

    "Many fear that if the cuts in the president's current budget are not reversed, it could be the beginning of the end for NASA Langley. Let's hope they're wrong - in terms of this community's well being and, most importantly, in terms of this country's future economic, military and scientific leadership."

    No LaRC Closure

    Aeronautics official: NASA Langley won't close, Daily Press

    "Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake, asked NASA's top aeronautics official whether the agency planned to close Langley, which next year faces a proposed 17 percent budget cut and hundreds of layoffs. "No," answered Vic Lebacqz, associate administrator for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate."

    Aeronautics Hearing

    Alliance turns proposed NASA cuts into airline-safety debate, Cleveland Plain Dealer

    "The fight to save NASA Glenn Research Center has become a battle about the future of the U.S. airline industry. Twice in the past decade, Northeast Ohioans scurried to save the federal space lab next to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and the millions of dollars and thousands of jobs it brings the region."

    Here's looking at you Steve!

    "The taxi test was the perfect occasion to try out NASA equipment that will enable a live video of Steve to be seen during the attempt. While Steve took to the runway on February 23 to familiarise himself with take-off procedures, a small camera was transmitting a video of the cockpit. Using a satellite transmitter receiver (transceiver), a real-time video is sent through the NASA satellite system to provide global coverage."

    Editor's note: Am I missing something? NASA is providing this support to Steve Fossett's flight - and a big NASA logo is on the side of his plane - yet I have found ZERO ouput from NASA PAO about this. Why is NASA so shy about this?

    Editor's note: Steve Fossett has landed in Salina, Kansas becoming the first person to fly around the world without stopping or refueling - alone.

    NASA Technology Supports Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, NASA

    "NASA technology contributed to the safety and success of the mission by enhancing communications between pilot Steve Fossett and his ground control team. NASA's real-time video hookup allowed enthusiasts around the globe to follow the flight."

    Editor's note:NASA finally issued a press release - after Fossett landed - not before - or during - his 60 hour flight.

    Round-the-world record bid under way, The Guardian

    "Millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett's GlobalFlyer plane took off into the clear Kansas skies today, setting in motion a world record bid described by his backer and friend Sir Richard Branson as the last great aviation record - flying nonstop and solo around the world."

    Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer, Mission Website

    Editor's note: With all the current arm waving (a lot of it, perhaps, justified) going on about the "other A" in NASA, why is it that the most exciting stuff - the pushing of aeronautic envelopes - is now being done by the private sector? I don't think it is necessarily because NASA isn't doing this sort of thing but rather, because these people can do it without NASA. A message, perhaps, from the private sector?

    Editor's note: I stand corrected - see This link about NASA KSC participation. This notwithstanding, the vast majority of the hardware, operations, and financing - to say nothing of the inspiration for this project - came from the private sector.

    Send your comments to nasawatch@reston.com. Your comments thus far:

    A New NACA To Save Langley?

    Bring back the NACA, OpEd, Daily Press

    "The aeronautics-and-space agency's bias disfavoring aeronautics is built-in, permanent, shared by the media, worsened by the current budget threats and dangerous to American prospects in world technology competition."

    What might a new NACA look like?, OpEd, Daily Press

    "For long-view insight, the committee could use a historian like Duke University's Alex Roland, who wrote the definitive NACA history."

    Editor's note: If you folks are really going to pursue this notion of a new NACA, the last thing you want to do is embark on this path with a self-imposed chip on your shoulder.

    Testing facilities at NASA vulnerable, Cleveland Plain Dealer

    "NASA Glenn Research Center risks losing crucial testing facilities that laid the foundation of the space lab's work with aircraft."

    Bad Aeronautics News Unfolds

    Comments? Send them to nasawatch@reston.com

    Your comments thus far:

    Internal NASA Memo: ARMD Research Center Test Facility Closures Due to FY06 NASA Budget

    "The Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate is likely to close a number of the wind tunnels/other large ground test facilities that fall under our HCE responsibility at the beginning of FY06. So as to not take any unilateral actions that would adversely effect your programs, we ask that you review the list of facilities likely to close as shown below and that you respond back to us by noting those facilities from the list that from your Mission Directorate perspective either cannot or should not close."

    7 January 2005: NASA Presolicitation Notice: Design and Fabrication of Wind Tunnel Models, NASA GRC

    "The University of Illinois is uniquely qualified to design the models as they have extensive experience in the design and development of wind tunnel models and testing methods, and have collaborated with NASA on many icing tunnel and aerodynamic tunnel test programs."

    Editor's note: I wonder if GRC folks consulted with ARC or LaRC aeronautics folks about in-house aeronautics expertise -- before going outside the agency to get some.

    6 January 2005: NASA Langley to hold meeting on demolition, Daily Press

    "NASA Langley Research Center will hold a public meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 19 in Poquoson to discuss the proposed demolition of the center's historic gantry and five wind tunnels."

    Editor's note: C'mon, Roy, There has to be a more creative approach to this than just tearing buildings down.

    Oh yes, when are you going to get around to telling all of those contractor employees about the layoffs you are planning?

    21 December 2004: Playing defense - Community must mobilize to protect NASA Langley, OpEd, Daily Press

    "Hampton seems to grasp the threat, and will need to mount a defensive action. But this isn't just a Hampton issue. Every nearby locality, all of Hampton Roads, should be arming to make the case for Langley and protect the research it does. Because that research is critical to the nation's economy and security. And because Langley employees and purchases add enormously to the intellectual, economic and cultural capital of this area."

    Editor's note: Just a suggestion folks: the last time y'all mounted a pro-LaRC/Aeronautics PR offensive you ran some ads on TV which aired up here in Washington, DC area. The images of the airplane wreckage floating in the ocean had the exact opposite effect than it was apparently intended to have. Oh yes: the FY06 Federal budget is not going to make anyone happy - anywhere. So if you are just going to complain about not getting enough money you'll just have to get in line with everyone else who feels the same way. Its going to be a long line.

    Mach 10 Attempt a Success

    16 November 2004:NASA's X-43A Scramjet Breaks Speed Record

    "NASA's X-43A research vehicle screamed into the record books today, demonstrating an air-breathing engine can fly at nearly 10 times the speed of sound."

    16 November 2004: ATK and NASA Set the Pace With Record-Breaking X-43A Hypersonic Flight, ATK

    "Future applications for hypersonic flight include precision time-critical strike weapons with significant stand off capability..."

    Editor's note: "precision time-critical strike weapons" ? Gee, I don't recall seeing mention of such a spin-off in any of NASA's X-43/HyperX publicity material ...

    Burt Rutan to Air Drop X-37

    WhiteKnight to launch X-37 test flights, Desert News

    "WhiteKnight, the unique aircraft developed by Mojave's Scaled Composites to launch the company's SpaceShipOne space craft, will have a new job early next year,the DesertNews learned this week." ... "Braukus had no further information on the decision to have the Scaled aircraft launch the X-37, saying that management of the project has been taken over by an agency he said he could not identify."

    Editor's note: When asked by NASA Watch today (13 Sep) if he could elaborate on who the new sponsor of X-37 research is, NASA spokesman Mike Braukus said: "the new government partner is classified. We will acknowledge the government partner when the partner gives us permission."

    Editor's note: In an additional email Tuesday morning, Mike Braukus commented: "I read an article this morning from Bill Deaver of the Desert News claiming that I said that Rutan's White Knight will be used -- if you plan to use that article it's inaccurate. I told Mr. Deaver that I didn't know what aircraft Scaled Composites planned to use to drop the X-37 and that he should contact them for that information."

    Editor's note:Mike Braukus subsequently confirmed to NASA Watch that the X-37 program had been transfered to DARPA.

    Helios Crash Report Released

    4 September 2004: NASA Releases Helios Prototype Aircraft Mishap Report

    "The board that investigated the loss of the remotely operated Helios Prototype aircraft during a test flight last summer released its final report."

    27 June 2004: An ill wind blows for bit of NASA history, Daily Press

    "The military had a glut of tunnels too, so NASA and the Department of Defense formed the National Aeronautics Testing Alliance to figure out which tunnels weren't needed anymore. Alliance members looked at NASA's three major transonic tunnels - the 11-Foot Transonic Tunnel at Ames Research Center in California and at Langley the National Transonic Facility and the 16-Foot, said Vic Lebacqz, the head of NASA's aeronautics office."

    2 June 2004: NASA's 'scramjet' funding in jeopardy, Daily Press

    "Funding for hypersonics research has not been consistent over the past four decades. After President Bush announced in January his vision to send humans to the moon, Mars and beyond, NASA dropped plans to fund a larger hypersonic craft called the X-43c. Researchers often speak about past military and NASA programs that have run out of money just as they showed promise." Editor's note:This is all a bit crazy: NASA pushes the envelope where no one has gone before, and then the money to actually exploit this accomplishment is yanked out from under the agency.


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