NASA Watch

This is not a NASA Website. You might learn something. It's YOUR space agency. Get involved. Take it back. Make it work - for YOU.
nasawatch@spaceref.com | Voice +1.703.787.6567 | RSS Feed | Twitter | Advertising | Important Disclaimer

NASA Extends Lots Of Missions

By Keith Cowing on July 1, 2016 4:46 PM.

New Horizons Receives Mission Extension to Kuiper Belt, Dawn to Remain at Ceres

"In addition to the extension of the New Horizons mission, NASA determined that the Dawn spacecraft should remain at the dwarf planet Ceres, rather than changing course to the main belt asteroid Adeona. Green noted that NASA relies on the scientific assessment by the Senior Review Panel in making its decision on which extended mission option to approve. "The long-term monitoring of Ceres, particularly as it gets closer to perihelion - the part of its orbit with the shortest distance to the sun -- has the potential to provide more significant science discoveries than a flyby of Adeona," he said. Also receiving NASA approval for mission extensions, contingent on available resources, are: the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN), the Opportunity and Curiosity Mars rovers, the Mars Odyssey orbiter, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), and NASA's support for the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission."

Categories:

Test of Russian manual docking system doesn't quite go as expected

By Marc Boucher on July 1, 2016 8:50 AM.

Russian ISS docking system test doesn't go as planned, SpaceRef (With video)

"According to veteran Russian space program reporter Anatoly Zak an ISS test of the cosmonaut-operated docking system on the Progress 62 cargo spacecraft didn't quite go as expected earlier this morning."

Marc's note: Despite a statement from Roscosmos saying the test was successful you can watch the video yourself and see docking with considerable pitch at the end. And yes, there's a reason these tests are performed and I'm sure there will be another scheduled not in the too distant future.

Categories:

NASA holds media briefings ahead of Juno's arrival at Jupiter Monday

By Marc Boucher on June 30, 2016 5:17 PM.

Watch: Media Briefing - The Science of Juno's Mission to Jupiter

"During a news briefing from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California the science team involved with the Juno mission to Jupiter talked about the scientific goals of the mission.

This Fourth of July, the solar-powered Juno spacecraft will arrive at our solar system's most massive planet after an almost five-year journey. Once in Jupiter's orbit, the spacecraft will circle the Jovian world 37 times during 20 months, skimming to within 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) above the cloud tops. This is the first time a spacecraft will orbit the poles of Jupiter, providing new answers to ongoing mysteries about the planet's core, composition and magnetic fields."

Marc's note: NASA and Apple Music collaborated on short film, Visions of Harmony. The film and original music is available from the link in the tweet below on iTunes. It's worth watching.

Categories: ,

Today is Asteroid Day

By Keith Cowing on June 30, 2016 7:31 AM.

"Asteroid Day is a growing global movement, supported by international organizations, experts in planetary science, astronauts and citizens around the world to increase awareness, education and support of programs for greater detection, knowledge of the composition, mapping and deflection of dangerous asteroids. ASTEROID DAY is held each year on JUNE 30, the anniversary of the largest asteroid impact of Earth in recent history, 1908 Tunguska event in Siberia, which devastated 2000 square km/800 square miles in Siberia. ASTEROID DAY was co-founded in 2014 by Astrophysicist and QUEEN lead musician Dr. Brian May and Filmmaker Grig Richters, Apollo 9 Astronaut Rusty Schweickart and Silicon Valley operative Danica Remy."

More info: http://asteroidday.org

Slooh: Celebrate World Asteroid Day with Live Show, Expert Guests

"On Thursday, June 30, at 4:00 pm PDT | 7:00 pm EDT | 23:00 UTC (International Times: http://bit.ly/28YW91a), Slooh is celebrating World Asteroid Day with four hours of live programming and an amazing roster of guests."

Keith's note: I'll be appearing on SLOOH's Asteroid Day broadcast to talk about the NASA politics behing asteroid detection and collection missions - and how they do/do not relate to human missions to Mars.

Categories:

NASA Bans All Travel to Istanbul for COSPAR (Update)

By Keith Cowing on June 28, 2016 5:54 PM.

NASA-sponsored Travel to 41st Committee on Space Research Scientific Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey, NASA

"The Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) is holding its 41st Scientific Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey, from July 30 to August 7, 2016. As with previous meetings of this biennial international conference, a significant number of NASA employees and contractors have made tentative plans to attend including representatives from your organization. However, based on current US. Department of State guidance regarding offical travel to Turkey, the Administrator has determined that the Agency will not sponsor or process travel for the 2016 COSPAR conference in Istanbul by NASA civil servants or contractors, including those at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory."

Turkey Travel Restrictions Not Binding on Grantees, NASA

"You may have seen the NASA memo stating that, based on State Department warnings, official travel by NASA civil servants and contractors will not be sponsored or processed by the Agency. Thus, no NASA civil servants or NASA contractors will be going to COSPAR. However, this prohibition does not bind those who would travel on grants from NASA or cooperative agreements with NASA."

28 killed in suicide attack at Istanbul airport, USA Today

"At least 28 people were killed and 60 injured Tuesday in an attack at Ataturk International Airport by three suicide bombers who blew themselves up, Istanbul Gov. Vasip Sahin said."

Categories:

Ruexit For ISS?

By Keith Cowing on June 28, 2016 3:07 PM.

Russia's Plan To Spin Off a New Space Station From the ISS, Popular Mechanics

"According to RKK Energia, the prime Russian contractor on the ISS, the new outpost would begin with the separation of the Nauka from the rest of the old station in mid-2020s. By that time, Nauka should have two even newer modules in tow. One would be the so-called Node Module, a tinker-toy-like component that could connect to six other modules, crew ships, cargo tankers, structural elements, you name it. The Node Module is already in RKK Energia's garage and ready to go within a few months after the Nauka. Next would be the new Science and Power Module (NEM) which, as it name implies, will finally give cosmonauts a state-of-the-art science lab and a pair of large solar arrays, making the Russian segment fully independent from the rest of the ISS in terms of power, communications, and other resources."

Categories: ,

OIG: Impact Of SpaceX SPX-7 Mission Failure

By Keith Cowing on June 28, 2016 1:52 PM.

NASA's Response to SpaceX's June 2015 Launch Failure: Impacts on Commercial Resupply of the International Space Station, NASA OIG

"... The most significant item lost during the SPX-7 mission was the first of two Docking Adapters necessary to support upcoming commercial crew missions. Although NASA had planned to have two Adapters installed on the Station before the first commercial crew demonstration mission scheduled for May 2017, it is now likely there will be only one installed in time for these missions.

... we also found that for the first seven cargo missions NASA did not fully utilize the unpressurized cargo space available in the Dragon 1 capsule's trunk, averaging 423 kg for SPX-3 through SPX-7 even though the trunk is capable of carrying more. The ISS Program noted that unpressurized payloads depend on manifest priority, payload availability, and mission risk, and acknowledged it struggled to fully utilize this space on early missions, but as of June 2016 the Agency's cargo manifests show full trunks on all future SpaceX cargo resupply missions.

... risk mitigation procedures are not consistently employed and the subjective launch ratings the Agency uses provide insufficient information to NASA management concerning actual launch risks. In addition, NASA does not have an official, coordinated, and consistent mishap investigation policy for commercial resupply launches, which could affect its ability to determine the root cause of a launch failure and implement corrective actions."

Categories:

Watching Where NASA's Money Goes

By Keith Cowing on June 28, 2016 12:10 AM.

Keith's note: The next time you hear the space and planetary science communities complaining about budget cuts consider what their NASA mission PIs are paid at SwRI (2014 IRS Form, Part VII)

[Juno] Scott J Bolton $345,145 + 51,887
[New Horizons] Sol A Stern $370,522 + 52,435

SwRI is not at all shy about telling you how much money they earn - indeed they put this on their press releases. They are a non-profit, so this whole income thing should not be all that important - right? Just sayin'

"About SwRI: SwRI is an independent, nonprofit, applied research and development organization based in San Antonio, Texas, with nearly 2,800 employees and an annual research volume of $549 million."

Categories: ,

Dawn Brooke Owens

By Keith Cowing on June 27, 2016 6:18 PM.

Keith's note: Brooke Owens has left the planet. Ad Astra.

A memorial service for Brooke Owens will be held at Clear Creek Community Church, in League City, TX, at 10:00am on Saturday July 9th. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Brooke's name to one of the three following organizations:

Friends Thru The Fight (FTTF), a local non-profit which supports breast cancer patients through their treatment and were present in loving on Brooke and her family over the past few months, by visiting friendsthruthefight.org.

AidChild, a non-profit organization that Brooke served with that supports orphans living with HIV/AIDS who do not have the support of extended families in Uganda, by visiting http://aidchild.org/.

Mercy's Village International, an organization that Brooke served with dedicated to fighting poverty through the education of children and the empowerment of girls and young women, by http://www.mercysvillage.org/.

If you have any photos, memories or things like poetry or songs of or by Brooke, please send them to dawnbrookeowensmemorial - at - gmail.com

Continue reading: Dawn Brooke Owens.

Categories:

Brexit From ESA?

By Keith Cowing on June 26, 2016 10:01 PM.

Brexit Does Not Mean the UK Will Leave the European Space Agency, Right?, Inverse

"The resources and partnerships that UK-based companies rely on are now hanging in the balance as the vote moves forward. However, a UK exit from the EU should not affect the country's involvement with ESA. The ESA and EU are two separate entities with different goals and member states."

'Brexit' leaves lingering questions about involvement in European Space Agency, WRAL

"In a May CNN interview from the ISS, Peake commented on how leaving the EU might impact the UK: "The UK will still be part of the European Space Agency, that won't change at all. The European Space Agency is still part of this international partnership here with the International Space Station." Peake added "it really cuts through all barriers, its such a strong partnership."

RAS Statement on the Outcome of the EU Referendum in the UK, RAS

"UK and European science benefit from the free movement of people between countries, something that has allowed UK research to become world leading. Although for example membership of the European Space Agency and European Southern Observatory is not contingent on EU membership, these organizations depend on international recruitment made easier by straightforward migration between countries. We therefore urge the Government to ensure it remains straightforward for UK scientists to travel and work in EU countries, and for EU scientists to come to the UK."

Categories:

Space Sells in India

By Keith Cowing on June 25, 2016 9:35 AM.

Keith's note: This TV commercial is titled "Astronaut lachaar, khatam hua aachar". You have to watch the entire thing to figure out what it is selling. Its hilarious.

Categories: ,

The Droid That NASA Should Be Sending To Mars

By Keith Cowing on June 24, 2016 8:02 PM.

Keith's note: While NASA pours money into its goofy R5 robot that cannot walk unless it is on a hoist, controlled by a human, and is always broken, Boston Dynamics continues to make astonishing progress on autonomous robots. Imagine if you had something like this on Mars as part of a sample return mission. It would allow access to places that rovers cannot go and has dexterity unmatched by anything NASA has built. Wouldn't it be cool if that first SpaceX Red Dragon opened up and one of these droids walked out?

Categories: ,

Cool NASA Mars Symposium That NASA Is Not Talking About

By Keith Cowing on June 24, 2016 7:56 PM.

Keith's note: NASA is holding a Viking 40th Anniversary Symposium at NASA LaRC on 19 & 20 July. This event has quite a line up of speakers for something that ought to resonate with #JourneyToMars (their poster even uses the hashtag). So ... when are NASA LaRC or NASA HQ going to tell people about this? There is nothing online at NASA LaRC, on the NASA HQ Journey To Mars webpage, or at NASA.gov calendar. I only heard about this via a NIA email notice for the live webcast and agenda.

Keith's update: PAO tells me that they just got approval to start talking about this event.

Categories:

U.S. Army Uses Alien Invasion Movie for Recruiting

By Keith Cowing on June 24, 2016 12:16 AM.

Army's new recruitment drive: Sign up, maybe fight aliens, Army Times

It's part of an ongoing effort to correct what Ortiz called "misperceptions" about the Army by the general public. "We constantly hear America talk about the Army in a very detrimental way, in that we are low-tech, we are low-skill, and for the most part, because of those first two, we are the institution of last resort," he said, adding that the responses from the public became so familiar that "two years ago, we stopped asking."

Categories: ,

"The Martian" Just Happened - In Antarctica

By Keith Cowing on June 24, 2016 12:07 AM.

Rescuers succeed in evacuating sick workers at the South Pole, Washington Post

"For the third time ever, rescue workers have successfully evacuated someone from the South Pole during the brutal Antarctic winter, the National Science Foundation said. A plane carrying two sick workers from the Amundsen-Scott research station arrived on the Antarctic Coast early Wednesday afternoon, following a harrowing 10-hour flight across the continent. Both workers require medical attention not available at the station, prompting the rare rescue effort. ... Typically, none of the 50 or so people who overwinter at Amundsen-Scott can leave between February and October. One former worker described the South Pole as more inaccessible than the International Space Station."

Ailing Antarctic personnel transported to safety, nsf

"NSF determined that an evacuation was warranted and called on Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air Ltd., which has a U.S. government contract to fly in support of U.S. Antarctic Program science, to conduct this mission."

Keith's note: I have flown in Kenn Borek Twin Otter planes multiple times in the arctic. More than once my pilot was an antarctic veteran - in once case, a mid-winter medical rescue pilot. These folks really, really know their stuff.

Categories: ,

More stories for July.

Subscribe to NASA Watch

Loading


Monthly Archives




Russian ISS docking system test doesn't go as planned

Russian ISS docking system test doesn't go as planned Video in Story

According to veteran Russian space program reporter Anatoly Zak an ISS test of the cosmonaut-operated docking system on the Progress 62 cargo spacecraft didn't quite go as expected earlier this morning.

More updates...

Spacewire