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JSC Is Abandoning NASA History

By Keith Cowing on October 20, 2014 9:46 AM.

Keith's note: NASA JSC is shutting down its Media Research Center. The MRC employees, with more than a century of collective service stretching back to the Apollo era, are being laid off effective 22 October. The building that houses this team will be closed. All materials will be put in boxes - and forgotten. This is a stupid, short-sighted decision. All too soon these boxes will get moved again and again as floor/shelf space is needed for more urgent things, labels will come off boxes, people will dig through the boxes looking for souvenirs that will end up on eBay, and the people who originally managed the contents will disappear. In so doing NASA will have lost yet another big chunk of its history.

I have seen the effect of this bad habit on NASA's part with my own eyes. Once you stop maintaing a resource like this it invariably disintegrates. Yet JSC seems to think that hosting longhorns and prairie chickens is a more important use of its limited funds.

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Earth's Comet Hunting Blind Spot

By Keith Cowing on October 20, 2014 9:13 AM.

Earth at risk after cuts close comet-spotting program, scientists warn, The Guardian

"The Earth has been left with a huge blind spot for potentially devastating comet strikes after the only dedicated comet-spotting program in the southern hemisphere lost its funding, leading astronomers have warned. The program, which discovered the Siding Spring comet that narrowly missed Mars on Sunday, was shut down last year after losing funding. "It's a real worry," Bradley Tucker, an astronomer at the Australian National University (ANU) and University of California Berkeley, told Guardian Australia. "There could be something hurtling towards us right now and we wouldn't know about it."

Siding Spring survey

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NASA's Mars Fleet Checks In

By Keith Cowing on October 19, 2014 8:33 PM.

All Three NASA Mars Orbiters Healthy After Comet Flyby

"All three NASA orbiters around Mars confirmed their healthy status Sunday after each took shelter behind Mars during a period of risk from dust released by a passing comet. Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter all are part of a campaign to study comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring and possible effects on the Martian atmosphere from gases and dust released by the comet. The comet sped past Mars today much closer than any other know comet flyby of a planet."

- NASA's Mars Odyssey Orbiter Watches Comet Fly Near
- NASA's MAVEN Studies Passing Comet and Its Effects
- NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Studies Comet Flyby

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White House Announces Dava Newman Nomination

By Keith Cowing on October 17, 2014 6:05 PM.

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts (NASA Excerpt)

"Dr. Dava Newman, Nominee for Deputy Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Dr. Dava Newman is a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She first joined the MIT faculty in 1993 and has held a number of different faculty positions since then. Dr. Newman is a Harvard-MIT Health, Sciences and Technology faculty member and became a MacVicar Faculty Fellow in 2000. She is also the Director of the MIT Portugal Program, Director of the Technology and Policy Program, and Co-Director of the Man-Vehicle Laboratory at MIT. From 1992 to 1993, she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Houston. Dr. Newman received a B.S. from the University of Notre Dame and two S.M.s and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

Dava Newman nominated for NASA post, MIT

The deputy administrator's specific duties, Newman says, include NASA's legislative and intergovernmental affairs; communications; the Mission Support Directorate; and international relationships, including the multinational partnership that manages the International Space Station. In addition, the post oversees educational programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics Helping to spur the interest of young people in space, and in engineering in general, will be "a privilege," Newman says. "I'd like to change the conversation with kids about what it means to be an engineer" -- which she calls "the best job in the world, where you get to solve really challenging and extraordinary problems in the service of humankind."

Dava Newman - New Deputy Administrator at NASA, 8 October post

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Sierra Nevada's CCtCap Scorched Earth Policy

By Keith Cowing on October 16, 2014 9:58 AM.

Sierra Nevada Files Suit To Reinstate Hold on Commercial Crew Contracts

"In filings with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, Sierra Nevada filed requests for both a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to overturn a NASA decision Oct. 9 lifting an order stopping work on Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts awarded Sept. 16 to Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies Corp."

- Why Sierra Nevada Did Not Win Any Commercial Crew Funds, earlier post
- NASA Tells Boeing and SpaceX to Proceed Despite SNC Protest, earlier post
- Sierra Nevada Protests Commercial Crew Award, earlier post

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Lockheed Martin Claims To Be in the Fusion Business Now

By Keith Cowing on October 16, 2014 8:52 AM.

Lockheed Martin Pursuing Compact Nuclear Fusion Reactor Concept (with video)

Skunk Works Reveals Compact Fusion Reactor Details, Aviation Week

"I studied this in graduate school where, under a NASA study, I was charged with how we could get to Mars quickly," says McGuire, who earned his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Scanning the literature for fusion-based space propulsion concepts proved disappointing."

Scientists Are Bashing Lockheed Martin's Nuclear Fusion 'Breakthrough', Business Insider

Although Lockheed Martin issued a press release saying it had several pending patents for its approach, the company has yet to publish any scientific papers on this latest work."

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Shana Dale Lands at FAA AST

By Keith Cowing on October 15, 2014 11:21 AM.

Shana Dale Joins FAA Commercial Space Office as Deputy AA, Space Policy Online

"Shana Dale will become Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (AST) at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as of November 3, 2014. She succeeds George Zamka who left AST this summer to join Bigelow Aerospace. Dale has served in a number of positions on Capitol Hill and in the George W. Bush Administration. She is perhaps best known in space policy circles as the first woman to serve as Deputy Administrator of NASA from 2005-2009 while Mike Griffin was Administrator."

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Printing Our Way Across The Solar System

By Keith Cowing on October 14, 2014 1:35 PM.

Bootstrapping a Solar System Civilization, OSTP

"There's interest outside government as well, with various private companies that see a potential business in mining of asteroids and celestial objects for use in space. Recently, I caught up Dr. Phillip Metzger, a former research physicist at NASA's Kennedy Space Center who has recently joined the faculty of the University of Central Florida, to discuss the longer term goal of "bootstrapping a solar system civilization."

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Why Sierra Nevada Did Not Win Any Commercial Crew Funds

By Keith Cowing on October 14, 2014 12:54 PM.

Why NASA Rejected Sierra Nevada's Commercial Crew Vehicle, Aviation Week

"The internal document, signed by NASA Associate Administrator William Gerstenmaier on Sept. 15, the day before the contract awards were announced, says, "I consider SNC's (Sierra Nevada Corp.) design to be the lowest level of maturity, with significantly more technical work and critical design decisions to accomplish. The proposal did not thoroughly address these design challenges and trades." Gerstenmaier goes on to say that Sierra's proposal "has more schedule uncertainty. For example, some of the testing planned after the crewed flight could be required before the crewed flight, and the impact of this movement will greatly stress the schedule."

- SNC Protest Halts NASA Commercial Crew Efforts, earlier post
- NASA Tells Boeing and SpaceX to Proceed Despite SNC Protest, earlier post

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Idiocracy At Work

By Keith Cowing on October 13, 2014 7:26 PM.

Battle between NSF and House science committee escalates: How did it get this bad?, Science Insider

"The Republican aides were looking for anything that Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), their boss as chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, could use to support his ongoing campaign to demonstrate how the $7 billion research agency is "wasting" taxpayer dollars on frivolous or low-priority projects, particularly in the social sciences. The Democratic staffers wanted to make sure that their boss, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), the panel's senior Democrat, knew enough about each grant to rebut any criticism that Smith might levy against the research."

David Vitter Unhappy With Ebola Aid Strategy Because It 'Focuses On Africa', Huffington Post

"Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is urging his colleagues to oppose President Barack Obama's request for $1 billion to fight the spread of Ebola, in part because the plan "focuses on Africa" instead of "our own borders."

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Why Space Advisory Panels Are Useless. They Are Always Ignored.

By Keith Cowing on October 13, 2014 11:50 AM.

Smith to Bolden: Why Not Orion for Commercial Crew?, SpaceNews

"If Orion could provide a redundant capability as a fallback for the commercial crew partners, why is it necessary to carry two partners to ensure competition in the constrained budget environment?" Smith asked NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in an Oct. 7 letter co-signed by Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), chairman of the House Science space subcommittee."

5 Years After Augustine, Florida Today

"The funding still doesn't match the missions," said Norman Augustine, the former Lockheed Martin CEO who headed the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee, in a recent interview. "We've been there before, we know how that movie ends. I just hope we find a way to avoid that."

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ESF Lawyers Up Over Comment in Nature

By Keith Cowing on October 12, 2014 11:14 AM.

European Science Foundation demands retraction of criticism in Nature, threatens legal action, Retraction Watch

"Amayo Moro-Martin, an assistant astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and an associate research scientist at The Johns Hopkins University, apparently angered the ESF with the bolded phrase below: ..."

A call to those who care about Europe's science, Nature

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JPL Falls For LaRC Cold Fusion / LENR Story

By Keith Cowing on October 11, 2014 4:37 PM.

The nuclear reactor in your basement, NASA Global Climate Change

"Several labs have blown up studying LENR and windows have melted," according to Dennis Bushnell, Langley's chief scientist, in an article he wrote for NASA's Future Innovation website. This, he wrote, indicates that "when the conditions are 'right' prodigious amounts of energy can be produced and released." But it's also an argument for the approach that the Langley researchers favor: master the theory first."

Keith's note: Looks like Bob Silberg at JPL fell for the Cold Fusion story - using only LaRC web postings as a source. LaRC even took down the links that Silberg cited. This post has been sitting online at NASA for more than a year and no one noticed.

- NASA Cold Fusion Update, 2013
- Cold Fusion Update From LaRC (Update), 2012
- Why is NASA Langley Wasting Time on Cold Fusion Research?, 2011

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The Mars One Team Has Some Homework To Do

By Keith Cowing on October 11, 2014 11:00 AM.

MIT Analysis Paints Bleak Outcome for Mars One Concept, SpacePolicyOnline

"An analysis by a team of MIT students of the Mars One concept to send people to Mars on one-way missions to establish a settlement there offers a bleak picture of the outcome. The paper was presented at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC2014) in Toronto last week. Sydney Do, Koki Ho, Samuel Schreiner, Andrew Owens and Olivier de Weck conducted "An Independent Assessment of the Technical Feasibility of the Mars One Mission Plan" supported by grants from NASA and the Josephine de Karman Fellowship Trust."

The reason Mars One colonists could die will surprise you , CNet

"There's a battle of the brains under way online about just how long the first human colonists to set up a new home on Mars will last on the Red Planet. A group of MIT students have challenged the viability of Mars One, a Dutch nonprofit's plan to set up a permanent colony on Mars with hearty volunteer astronauts who get a one-way ticket to both the fourth planet from the sun and history."

Keith's 10 Oct note: The MIT student team that did the analysis of Mars On eProject held an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit here.

Keith's 11 Oct note: An Open Letter on the Mars One Analysis by MIT Researchers, MIT

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NASA Tells Boeing and SpaceX to Proceed Despite SNC Protest

By Keith Cowing on October 9, 2014 6:16 PM.

NASA Exercises Authority to Proceed with Commercial Crew Contracts

"On Oct. 9, under statutory authority available to it, NASA has decided to proceed with the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts awarded to The Boeing Company and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. notwithstanding the bid protest filed at the U.S. Government Accountability Office by Sierra Nevada Corporation. The agency recognizes that failure to provide the CCtCap transportation service as soon as possible poses risks to the International Space Station (ISS) crew, jeopardizes continued operation of the ISS, would delay meeting critical crew size requirements, and may result in the U.S. failing to perform the commitments it made in its international agreements."

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NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 17 October 2014

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Today: Commercial Protein Crystal Growth High Density Modified (CPCG-HM): Gerst reviewed CPCG-HM experiment overview reference file and procedures.

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