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After Half a Century Space Advocacy/Policy Is Broken

By Keith Cowing on April 23, 2014 10:23 AM.

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Clash of the Titans

By Keith Cowing on April 23, 2014 10:16 AM.

Musk and Gass Go Toe-to-Toe in Q&A, SpaceNews

"Musk and Gass appeared March 5 before the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee to answer lawmakers' questions and, in an unusual twist, were given the opportunity to submit written questions to one another and provide answers back to the panel. Neither side landed a knockout blow, but the exchange was illuminating nonetheless."

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Humans to Mars: Show Me The Money

By Keith Cowing on April 23, 2014 9:46 AM.

NASA's lofty goal of a manned Mars mission doesn't match budget reality , opinion, Washington Post

... But our current trajectory won't get us there anyway; estimates of the cost of a human trip to Mars run into the hundreds of billions. "We're going to have to figure out ingenious ways to do it based on the present budget plus modest increases," Bolden said at the summit. Or maybe more than modest. William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration, told the same audience of the need to "break the paradigm" of current funding. "We cannot do it at the same budget level we're at today. It's just not going to work."

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Recovering Space History Inside an Old McDonalds

By Keith Cowing on April 23, 2014 8:31 AM.

The Hackers Who Recovered NASA's Lost Lunar Photos, Wired

"Sitting incongruously among the hangars and laboratories of NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley is the squat facade of an old McDonald's. You won't get a burger there, though-its cash registers and soft-serve machines have given way to old tape drives and modern computers run by a rogue team of hacker engineers who've rechristened the place McMoon's. These self-described techno-archaeologists have been on a mission to recover and digitize forgotten photos taken in the '60s by a quintet of scuttled lunar satellites. The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Progject has since 2007 brought some 2,000 pictures back from 1,500 analog data tapes. They contain the first high-resolution photographs ever taken from behind the lunar horizon, including the first photo of an earthrise (first slide above). Thanks to the technical savvy and DIY engineering of the team at LOIRP, it's being seen at a higher resolution than was ever previously possible."

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Money Saved By Canceling Missions Usually Just Disappears

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2014 10:57 PM.

NASA's Extended Science Missions in Peril, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"We do not yet know how the Senior Review will turn out. NASA is famous for wanting to "move on" to the next thing and often abandons working spacecraft. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush but as things currently stand, there isn't much in the mission pipeline to move on to. Planetary Science has taken several massive budgetary hits in the past few years, with more on the way. The termination of LRO and MER will not help move new missions off the drawing board. Money not spent on these extended missions will probably slide into SMD's Black Hole of Funding (the James Webb Space Telescope) or be dissipated on new paperwork, committee meetings and concept studies. It would be both fiscally prudent and programmatically responsible for NASA to fund and retain these working and still productive extended missions."

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Bolden Talks Mars at Humans 2 Mars Summit

By Marc Boucher on April 22, 2014 9:38 PM.

NASA Administrator Discusses Getting Humans to Mars [Watch], NASA

"Administrator Charles Bolden outlined NASA's human exploration path to Mars during a keynote address at the April 22 Humans to Mars Summit 2014, held at George Washington University in Washington."

Marc's note: Bolden didn't say anything that we haven't heard before. He talked about the need for humanity to become a multi-planet species for survival and that the audience needs to face facts that we're in a very constraining budget period.

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Earth Before Earth Day

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2014 3:16 PM.

Earth Before Earth Day

"Long before man journeyed to the moon and looked back at the tiny, fragile planet that houses humanity, remote orbiters were sending back pictures of home. Sent to scope out potential landing sites on the Moon, the series of five Lunar Orbiters also sent back the earliest views of Earth from another celestial body. This image, taken in 1966 by Lunar Orbiter 1, is among the first views of Earth from the Moon. In the black-and-white image, a crescent Earth floats majestically behind the lumpy surface of the Moon."

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Asteroid Threat Press Conference Today

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2014 1:12 PM.

B612 Foundation Earth Day Impact Video, Press Conference and Webcast

"The B612 Foundation will hold a press conference today which will be webcast from the Seattle Museum of Flight today. The press conference will feature the following new video of data from a nuclear-test-ban-treaty organization showing multiple atomic-bomb-scale asteroid impacts on Earth since 2001. You can watch the press conference below starting at 2:30 p.m. EDT."

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NASA's GlobalSelfie Event Is Just About Selfies

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2014 11:33 AM.

Keith's note: @NASASocial is retweeting lots of selfies today (this is one of the ones they decided to retweet). Instead of trying to raise issues relevant to Earth Day, NASA is turning the #Globalselfie thing into posting selfies of people and their pets. They could have easily tweeted a little guidance to people and ask them to highlight issues that affect Earth, the environment, climate change. They could also post links to specific projects that NASA is doing in this regard ... or organizations working to address these issues - but no, that takes strategic thought.  Why think too hard, @NASASocial? Just post selfies.

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Trash Talking Amongst Space Cargo Providers

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2014 9:46 AM.

Keith's note: You know that there is indeed a "there" there vis-a-vis the viability of space commerce when companies start trash talking their competitor's products.

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NASA Pays Half a Billion To A Country It Is Trying to Ignore

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2014 8:33 AM.

Despite sanctions, Russia is getting a $457.9M check from NASA, Washington Post

"Despite ongoing sanctions, Russia is about to get a big infusion of cash from the U.S. government. NASA recently renewed a contract that allows Russia to ferry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station. The U.S. is, essentially, cutting Russia a $457.9 million check for its services -- six seats on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, training and launch prep, landing and crew rescue and limited cargo delivery to and from the International Space Station. This contract also adds additional support at the Russian launch site. NASA has announced it is cutting some contacts with Russia after the country annexed Crimea, including meetings and teleconferences."

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Maximizing Dawn's Scientific Mission at Ceres

By Keith Cowing on April 21, 2014 4:40 PM.

Maximizing Dawn's Scientific Mission at Ceres: SBAG Report

"At the last SBAG meeting, it was implied that the Dawn at Vesta Participating Scientist Program had not been fully successful. To gain insight into the issue, SBAG undertook a confidential survey of all the U.S. Dawn at Vesta Participating Scientists, receiving responses from 15 of 18 individuals. A sixteenth person did not want to participate. Responses ranged from extremely positive to deeply negative. The details provided indicated no hesitance on the part of the respondents to voice their opinion and provide specifics. Overall, 9 indicated very positive and productive experiences, 4 both positive and negative, and 2 deeply negative. 12 of the 15 respondents would propose to a Dawn at Ceres Participating Scientist Program. While some participating scientists had serious issues, the SBAG survey did not find evidence that the Dawn at Vesta Participating Scientist Program would offer a basis for not proceeding with a Dawn at Ceres Participating Scientist Program."

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Dan Dumbacher is leaving NASA

By Keith Cowing on April 21, 2014 12:53 PM.

Keith's note: Dan Dumbacher is leaving NASA In June to take a tenured position at Purdue University in their aerospace engineering department.

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Commercial Crew Program Management News

By Keith Cowing on April 21, 2014 12:49 PM.

NASA Selects Commercial Crew Program Manager

"NASA has selected Kathy Lueders as program manager for the agency's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Lueders, who has served as acting program manager since October 2013, will help keep the nation's space program on course to launch astronauts from American soil by 2017 aboard spacecraft built by American companies."

Keith's note: Of course this all came about because of Ed Mango's problems (see previous stories)

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Building All-American Rocket Engines

By Keith Cowing on April 21, 2014 9:35 AM.

The Time for a New, All-American Advanced Liquid Rocket Engine Is Now, Mark Albrecht and Don Kerr, Roll Call

"We do not suggest that space cooperation with Russia is bad or that it should be totally curtailed or discouraged, but simply that there are elements of U.S. infrastructure that cannot be outsourced indefinitely. We must revitalize America's space infrastructure, and the right place to start is with an advanced-hydrocarbon-fueled booster engine -- an engine critical to U.S. leadership in rocket propulsion for access to space."

Keith's note: The authors dismissial of SpaceX progress and their 100% indigenous American engines is odd. The engines exist and are operational NOW. They also seem to be unaware of the much much larger, American-made engines that SpaceX (and undoubtedly Blue Origin) are developing. That said, the authors do make a good point about having non-Russian engines that other American launch vehicles could use. Alas, the authors decline to say who should pay for these new engines.

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More stories for April.


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