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Gravitational Waves Detected

By Keith Cowing on February 11, 2016 10:47 AM.

Gravitational Waves Detected, NSF

"For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of spacetime called gravitational waves, arriving at Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window to the cosmos."

Hanford's scientists finally spill gravitational-wave secrets - but they still can't tell all, Geekwire

"Meanwhile, there are already rumors that LIGO registered more readings that aren't yet ready to be reported."

- Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger, Physical Review Letters
- The First Sounds of Merging Black Holes, Physics

Keith's note: Taxpayers have seen more than $600 million spent on LIGO yet NSF purposefully shut off their live webcast from their LIGO event well before it was completed. Why would taxpayers want to hear what the scientists have to say?

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NASA Is Building A Rocket That It Can't Afford To Use

By Keith Cowing on February 10, 2016 9:02 PM.

NASA budget proposal widens divide between White House and Congress, Ars Technica

"Although NASA is proceeding with development of the SLS, a number of outside panels have questioned whether NASA can afford to build, fly and, sustain the expensive program, especially with projections of low flight rates of one launch or fewer per year. The biggest concern is that the rocket is so expensive to fly it precludes a meaningful exploration program within NASA's existing budget."

Keith's note: With the cuts to both SLS and Orion in the Administration's FY 2017 budget you can expect the same food fight with Congress to pick up where it left off last time. And as was the case before, Congress will go after Commercial Crew and Cargo, Technology, and Earth Science to put SLS and Orion back at the level Congress wants. Of course, election time will soon skew everything and the chances that there will be a formal budget will drop. The net result is that NASA will not know for certain what its budget will be and this uncertainty will cause launch dates to slip to the right. With these slips the overall cost of the SLS and Orion programs will increase - and commercial crew will take longer to happen than might otherwise be the case.

Naturally, the next Administration will stall for time and eventually appoint a blue ribbon panel to write a report and the cycle will start all over again. Their conclusion will be that NASA has no plan (and that it needs to hurry up and develop one) and, by the way, NASA cannot do all of the things it has been tasked to do under a budget that does not grow. Considering that all of these arguments are set to occur under a NASA budget that is likely going to stay flat, nothing will change since no one will give up pushing for the things that they want NASA to do. The inevitable result will be that NASA will end up with a launch system that will have nothing to launch on the imaginary #JourneyToNowhere.

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Asteroid Boulder Retrieval Mission Starts To Drift Away

By Keith Cowing on February 10, 2016 6:10 PM.

NASA's asteroid mission isn't dead yet, Ars Technica

"This week, as the agency's chief financial officer, David Radzanowski, discussed the president's budget in a conference call with reporters, he let slip a seemingly huge piece of news. The robotic spacecraft NASA planned to grab an asteroid boulder would not launch in 2020, as originally planned, but some time in the early- to mid-2020s. The agency's notional launch date had changed to 2023, Radzanowski said. But he then cautioned reporters not to focus on that date. It could be earlier than that, he said, adding: "Don't get fixated that there's a delay at this point in time." But it is difficult to see 2023 as anything but a three-year delay."

Keith's note: This evaporating interest is not surprising given that NASA never really knew why it was doing this Asteroid Boulder Retrieval Mission anyway. Either it was/was not trying to protect Earth and/or this was/was not a stepping stone on the #JourneyToMars or something. Charlie Bolden's confusion on this topic was in evidence last year at budget time:

- Earlier posts on Bolden and asteroids

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More #HypeAtNASA on Twitter - Fact or Fluff?

By Keith Cowing on February 9, 2016 11:54 PM.

Keith's note: @NASA tweeted this to more than 14,600,000 followers:

Keith's note: NASAWATCH replied:

Keith's note: A request for NASA:

With regard to "1,600 new technologies a year" OK: "a year" means annually i.e. within a 365 day period. Implicit in this claim is the suggestion that this is (or has been) done every year. That public claim having been made, can you provide a list that includes each and every one of these "new technologies" - technologies that were created/announced/revealed within any single 365 day period in NASA's existence? Please provide that year, the name of each of the technologies, and how each item is a separate "technology" from any other "technology". Oh yes, please define what you mean by "technology". If you cannot provide such a list then, one might task, how can you make such a claim? Has this happend in more than one year?

With regard to "Thousands of products, services, and processes", the plural "thousands" clearly implies multiples of 1,000 i.e. more than 2,000. Can you list each of the "products, services, and processes" that you have collected so as to be able to make this claim? Again, if you cannot provide such a list then, one might task, how can you make such a claim?

Yes there will be FOIAs and additional requests for you to ignore. If your claims are true, then that's very cool and worth further promulgation. If they are not then this is a substantial disservice to taxpayers.

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Reactions to NASA's Proposed FY 2017 Budget

By Keith Cowing on February 9, 2016 8:58 PM.

The State of Our NASA is Strong: Remarks on the State of NASA by NASA Administrator Bolden

"... it's because of the work of our contractors and our partners in classrooms, boardrooms, laboratories and even garages across our country, that: The state of our NASA is as strong as it's ever been and when I say "our," I really mean it. Because of the work of you and your NASA colleagues to make aviation cleaner, greener, safer and quieter ... the state of our NASA is strong."

Director of Coalition for Deep Space Exploration Responds to Administration's FY2017 NASA Budget

"The greatest challenge to these programs is not technical, but budget stability, plain and simple."

Rep. Lamar Smith Statement on President's Final Budget

"Today we received another unrealistic budget from the president that spends money we don't have and increases taxes on Americans by $2.6 trillion over 10 years. This level of spending insults hardworking American families who don't want to be burdened with higher taxes and slower economic growth."

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Statement on FY17 Budget Request

"Within the NASA portfolio, the request continues the bipartisan commitment to the United States achieving safe, reliable, and independent human access to the International Space Station (ISS) from American soil by 2017."

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NASA Can't - and Won't - Say What They Spend on Education

By Keith Cowing on February 9, 2016 6:10 PM.

Keith's note: In the budget media telecon today I asked NASA CFO David Radzanowski what NASA is spending on education in 2017. As is always the case, NASA can never tell you exactly what it spends on education - or what "education" means. Their budget charts talks about $100 Million in 2017 - a cut from $118 in 2016. But wait there's more: $25 million for education from Astrophysics and another $6 million from Earth science. So NASA is actually spending $131 million on education in FY 2017 - not the $100 million shown on their chart. But this is only STEM education according to Radzanowski. When I asked Radzanowski what NASA's total expenditure for education and outreach will be for 2017 he said "I don't have that number".

NASA never has that number - so they won't get back to me on that because (again) they never now that number. They don't know it on purpose (or at least they will never admit it). If they answer the question accurately about what is categorized as "education" then someone somewhere at OMB or in Congress will try and cut that item because it has been labeled as "education". So things get hidden inside of budgets. As a result, no one will ever know what NASA actually spends on education activities. It is like this all over NASA.





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NASA Puts Happy Child on Education Budget Cut Page

By Keith Cowing on February 9, 2016 5:43 PM.

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NASA FY 2017 Budget News Today

By Keith Cowing on February 9, 2016 4:20 PM.

Bolden Speech Highlights "State of NASA" Events at Agency Centers Feb. 9

"NASA centers across the country are opening their doors Tuesday, Feb. 9 to media and social media for "State of NASA" events, including a speech from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, and unique opportunities for a behind-the-scenes look at the agency's progress on its journey to Mars. These events follow President Obama's Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal delivery to the U.S. Congress. Also on Tuesday, at 5 p.m. NASA Chief Financial Officer David Radzanowski will brief media on the agency's 2017 budget proposal."

Detailed NASA budget info is now online at http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/fy_2017_budget_estimates.pdf

Basic NASA Budget information is online at http://www.nasa.gov/news/budget/index.html

Budget charts for NASA media briefing at 5 pm ET - live at http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

Continue reading: NASA FY 2017 Budget News Today.

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Adjusting NASA's Social Media Memes To Reflect Reality

By Keith Cowing on February 9, 2016 2:40 PM.


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More Snow Headaches For NASA in DC Area

By Keith Cowing on February 8, 2016 8:09 PM.





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Revisionist Millennial Musing by Amy Shira Teitel About The V-2 Rocket

By Keith Cowing on February 8, 2016 4:05 PM.

Was The V-2 a Nazi Weapon?, Popular Science

"The short answer is that, no, the V-2 wasn't strictly speaking a Nazi weapon. The long answer is more complicated, and a lot more interesting."

Keith's note: Amy Shira Teitel who has done PR things for NASA on occasion, posted a video in December that accompanies this article wherein she splits hairs over whether the V-2 rocket was a "Nazi weapon". Of course it was. Its kind of odd that anyone would even ask that question. As Teitel happily wanders through a superficial review of German military history she seems to be thinking that because it was a German Army project before some Nazi walked in and took complete control over, that this affects whether or not to call it a "Nazi Weapon". At best this is a distinction without a difference. Anyone who has read one page in one book on World War II knows that the Nazis ran Germany - period. Teitel ends her video with a bubbly "The V2 is a really interesting rocket that played a very interesting role and it can be looked at so many different ways." Yes, it was an "interesting rocket", Amy. My father was severely injured by a V-2 that struck London - his roommates were killed by it, so I guess I am biased. But I am not alone in holding this view.

Amy Teitel can look at the always "interesting" V-2 anyway she wants from her millennial revisionist viewpoint 3/4 of a century after the fact- and she can even try to recast the V-2 as something it was not. Oddly, you never hear her mention the horrific and subhuman conditions that slaves endured to produce this "interesting rocket". I guess this is a trivial detail that gets in the way of her story telling. In the end the V-2 was created by Nazi Germany plain and simple. The V-2 is and always was a Nazi weapon. Klar, Amy?

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Complaint About NASA Banning Someone's First Name

By Keith Cowing on February 8, 2016 1:41 PM.

NASA bans the word 'Jesus', Fox

"The name of Jesus is not welcome in the Johnson Space Center newsletter, according to a complaint filed on behalf of a group of Christians who work for NASA. The JSC Praise & Worship Club was directed by NASA attorneys to refrain from using the name 'Jesus' in club announcements that appeared in a Space Center newsletter. "It was shocking to all of us and very frustrating," NASA engineer Sophia Smith told me. "NASA has a long history of respecting religious speech. Why wouldn't they allow us to put the name Jesus in the announcement about our club?" Liberty Institute, one of the nation's largest religious liberty law firms, threatened to file a federal lawsuit unless NASA apologizes and stops censoring the name 'Jesus'."

Keith's note: Right. The name "Jesus" is being censored at NASA. Go to people.nasa.gov and type "Jesus" in the first name search box. Look at all the results. [Larger image] If this loony claim is real then any time any of these employees named "Jesus" is quoted in the newsletter or wants to place a want ad, etc. they will have to do so under a false name. And when they write technical papers, they will have to use a false name too. I wonder what happens when it comes to the name on their pay checks. Do the people who write these opinion pieces ever bother to think before they hit 'send'?

Keith's note: NASA PAO sent me the following statement: "NASA does not prohibit the use of any specific religious names in employee newsletters or other internal communications. The agency allows a host of employee-led civic, professional, religious and other organizations to meet on NASA property on employees' own time. Consistent with federal law, NASA attempts to balance employees' rights to freely exercise religious beliefs with its obligation to ensure there is no government endorsement of religion. We believe in and encourage open and diverse dialogue among our employees and across the agency."

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NASA Will Be Totally Absent From Global Asteroid Day Event

By Keith Cowing on February 8, 2016 11:52 AM.

Introducing Asteroid Day, ESA

"The press conference to reveal the events and partners for Asteroid Day 2016 is due to start on Tuesday, 9 February at 1500 CET (1400 UTC). It is being held at ESA's ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands."

Asteroid Day Press Event

"Building on the highly successful first-ever Asteroid Day in 2015, organisers, together with the European Space Agency, will announce partners and the addition of premier and independently organised events for Asteroid Day 2016, scheduled for June 30 around the world. The Press Conference will use multimedia platforms to accommodate speakers from around the world."

Keith's note: Interesting. People from all over the world are gathering in person and remotely for this event. This makes sense given the global nature of the threat posed by asteroid impacts. One thing that is glaringly absent about this event: not a single participant is representing NASA. This is especially bizzarre given that NASA has a multi-billion dollar mission (ARM) to retrieve a piece of a Near Earth Object and return it to Earth. NASA trips over itself to cite all of the reasons why this mission is important (to NASA) including lots of asteroid threat studies. Yet when it comes to this global effort: nothing but crickets.

And then this release comes out from PSI promoting the use of the NASA Webb Space Telescope to observe NEOs.

James Webb Space Telescope to Offer Better View of Near Earth Objects, PSI

"NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will allow scientists to better find, study and understand Near Earth Objects (NEOs), a new paper by a Planetary Science Institute researcher said. ... From its orbital position, JWST could have access to observe nearly three-fourths of NEOs, and nearly all asteroids and comets beyond Mars could be observed."

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North Korea Launched Something into Space

By Keith Cowing on February 7, 2016 8:05 AM.

USSTRATCOM Detects, Tracks North Korean Missile Launch into Space, USSTRATCOM

"OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - U.S. Strategic Command systems detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch into space at 6:29 p.m. CST. The missile was tracked on a southerly launch over the Yellow Sea."

Highlights and Initial Thoughts From The DPRK Launch, Arms Control Wonk

"You can also expect the US and South Korea to attempt to recover the wreckage of the first and second stages of the rocket. In 2014, the UN Panel of Experts on North Korea documented many components of foreign origin."

North Korean rocket puts object into space, angers neighbours, US

"The U.S. Strategic Command said it had detected a missile entering space, and South Korea's military said the rocket had put an object into orbit. North Korea said the launch of the satellite Kwangmyongsong-4, named after late leader Kim Jong Il, was a "complete success" and it was making a polar orbit of Earth every 94 minutes."

U.N. Security Council calls emergency meeting over North Korean rocket launch, CNN

"North Korea launched a satellite into space Sunday, its state media reported, triggering a wave of international condemnation and prompting the United States, South Korea and Japan to call for an emergency meeting of the U.N."

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CRS2 Source Selection Statement Released

By Keith Cowing on February 6, 2016 6:58 PM.

Source Selection Statement for the ISS Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) Contract, NASA (PDF)

Scores:
SpaceX: 992/1000
Orbital ATK: 880/1000
Sierra Nevada: 879/1000

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