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SpaceX FISO Telecon and Presentation

By Marc Boucher on September 1, 2014 5:26 PM.

Future In-Space Operations Teleconference with SpaceX Garrett Reisman, SpaceRef Buisness

"On August 27, 2014, former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman participated in the Future In-Space Operations (FISO) teleconference. Now the DragonRider Program Manager for SpaceX, Reisman presented a slide show on SpaceX commercial spaceflight."

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Video: Buzz Aldrin Conquers the Solar System

By Keith Cowing on September 1, 2014 3:01 PM.

Jockey "Supporting Greatness" TV advertisement.

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NASA New Horizons Has Decided To Change Astronomical Definitions

By Keith Cowing on August 31, 2014 7:13 PM.

Keith's note: Planets orbit stars. Moons orbit planets. Right? But it seems that NASA's New Horizons mission has decided that they want to unilateraly rewrite the definitions for these terms and, in so doing, confuse everyone.

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Confusing Orion PR From NASA

By Keith Cowing on August 31, 2014 5:58 PM.

NASA Outreach on Social Media, This is True

"Worse, the word "Mars" isn't anywhere in the story. Isn't that the more interesting thing? We're going to Mars? Cool! What are we going to do there? Yet the story doesn't mention such a mission. After digging and digging through the Orion home page, going through all 11 pages of press releases, I didn't find a single story that had the word "Mars" in the title. That's when I went to find the "About Orion" box, way down the page (and copied above) that mentions that Orion might "eventually" be going to Mars. After doing some more research, I don't find anything about an approved mission to Mars, but the earliest they could launch if they do get funding is the year 2020. Absolutely NASA should be doing long-range planning, and absolutely they should be doing public outreach, but if such a mission hasn't even been designed yet, then the "return from Mars at 29,000 MPH" is speculative at best."

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Congress and GAO Have Doubts About SLS Costs

By Keith Cowing on August 28, 2014 9:47 AM.

Letter to NASA Administrator Bolden from House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Republicans, 27 August 2014

"Will NASA be able to fly the SLS for Exploration Mission-1 in calendar year 2017? If it will not, please explain what has changed since your testimony on April 24, 2013 and whether, during your testimony on March 27, 2014, you were aware that this flight could be delayed beyond calendar year 2017.

Do you stand by your testimony that stated "We have asked for.. .and stated over and over that this is the amount of money that we need to deliver the SLS on the date and time that we said, 2017 for the inaugural mission?" If you do not stand by this testimony, please explain what has changed and how you would update this testimony to more accurately reflect the program's schedule."

SLS Resources Need to be Matched to Requirements to Decrease Risk and Support Long Term Affordability, GAO

"According to the program's risk analysis, however, the agency's current funding plan for SLS may be $400 million short of what the program needs to launch by 2017."

Actions Needed to Improve Transparency & Assess Long-Term Affordability of Human Exploration Programs, GAO

"Moreover, NASA's estimates do not capture the cost of the second flight of the 70-metric ton vehicle during EM-2, the costs of development work that will be necessary to fly the increased 105- and 130-metric ton SLS capabilities, and the costs associated with legacy hardware that will be used for the Orion program. In contrast, best practices for cost estimation call for "cradle to grave" life cycle cost estimates in order to help assess a program's long-term affordability."

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Skewing The Commercial Crew Program Poll Results

By Marc Boucher on August 28, 2014 8:29 AM.

Marc's note: Last week I decided to run a poll on who our readers thought would be selected for funding in the next round of NASA's Commercial Crew Program which many expect to be announced tomorrow. The results were surprising at first. I expected, considering the wide variety of readers we have, to have a very close poll. What I didn't expect was the blatant padding of the results for two of the companies.

Until Monday the results were headed to what I was expecting. However at some point on Monday, "block voting" began. The votes were coming from 4 IP addresses. 3 of these IP addresses came Connecticut - specifically from the area around Norwalk (where Boeing has an office). The last IP block was traced to Sierra Nevada Corporation. It should be noted that the poll was setup with cookies so that repeat voting was not allowed. SpaceX votes were distributed across the U.S. and other countries with nothing traceable to a SpaceX office.

So presented here are two poll results. As you can see there was considerable padding of the results, but once the block voting was removed it shows a much closer result.You may interpret this unscientific poll anyway you like.

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Selling SLS: Smoke and Mirrors - and Jedi Mind Tricks

By Keith Cowing on August 27, 2014 7:11 PM.

Using Jedi Mind Tricks to Sell NASA's Next Big Rocket, SpaceRef

"Among the things being announced by NASA was that the launch date for the first SLS mission was being slipped to late 2018 from its current 2017 date. But NASA did not want to call it a slip and said that everyone was still working according the schedule they had been working on. Of course this would mean that NASA has spent the fast few years working toward a date 2018 date while telling the world it was focused on 2017. Later in the telecon NASA said that it might launch the first SLS mission in late 2017 or early 2018. So in other words NASA does not actually have a clear idea when it will launch the first SLS mission. You can be certain that it will slip again - well into 2019 before a first launch date is even discussed. But NASA wants you to know that they have 70% confidence in all of their plans at this point. But when asked what the previous level of confidence was they admitted that they had never done the calculation. So were they more - or less confident prior to this? Given that they just slipped their launch date by a year ..."

NASA Commits to SLS Launch Readiness in November 2018, $7 Billion for Development, Space Policy Online

"Gerstenmaier extolled media participating in the teleconference not to get "hung up on the first launch date. ... NASA has been saying that the second SLS launch, EM-2, which will be the first to carry a crew, would take place in 2021, but today Gerstenmaier said 2021 or 2022. The launch rate thereafter is only once "every couple of years," Lightfoot said."

NASA commits to $7 billion mega rocket, 2018 debut, CBS

"But as of today, the only actual missions that are covered by NASA's projected budget are three test flights: the December launch of an uncrewed Orion capsule atop a Delta 4 rocket; the first SLS test flight in 2018; and the first crewed test flight around 2021. While the rockets are considered essential to deep space exploration missions like a proposed asteroid visit and eventual flights to Mars, no such missions are currently funded or even in detailed planning."

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JSC's Girl Robot Lost Competition Due to Broken WiFi

By Keith Cowing on August 27, 2014 6:01 PM.

What Happened to NASA's Valkyrie Robot at the DRC Trials, and What's Next, IEEE

"At the DRC Trials, Valkyrie experienced a "networking issue" that prevented the team from scoring any points. In the garage before the DRC Trials began, everything worked fine. But on the course itself, the JSC Team "could not communicate with the robot at all." They would later discover the culprit: a network traffic shaping tool that they'd added to their code and that ended up blocking data from the operator to the robot. This manifested itself as a "major instability in the control system," preventing the robot from functioning almost completely."

NASA JSC Has Developed A Girl Robot in Secret (Revised With NASA Responses), earlier post
NASA JSC's Valkyrie Robot Tied For Last Place in DARPA Competition, earlier post
No One is in the Driver's Seat at NASA, earlier post
NASA JSC's Expensive Custom Trailer For Val the Robot, earlier post

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NASA Delays First SLS Launch to 2018

By Keith Cowing on August 27, 2014 3:05 PM.

NASA Completes Key Review of World's Most Powerful Rocket in Support of Journey to Mars

"This decision comes after a thorough review known as Key Decision Point C (KDP-C), which provides a development cost baseline for the 70-metric ton version of the SLS of $7.021 billion from February 2014 through the first launch and a launch readiness schedule based on an initial SLS flight no later than November 2018."

NASA Holds Teleconference Today to Discuss Progress on World's Largest Rocket

"NASA officials will hold a media teleconference at 4 p.m. EDT today to discuss the agency's progress on the Space Launch System (SLS), the heavy-lift rocket under development to take humans beyond Earth orbit and to Mars. The teleconference will be streamed live on NASA's website at: http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio"

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Simple Astrobiology Questions NASA Refuses to Answer

By Keith Cowing on August 27, 2014 9:21 AM.

NASA Still Won't Look For Existing Life on Mars (update), earlier post

Keith's 31 July note: I obviously expected Jim Green to answer in the same cautious way that NASA has always answered this question - one I have asked again and again for the nearly 20 years. Instead, Green launched into a detailed description of all the things that the Mars 2020 rover could detect that have a connection with life. Much of what he said clearly referred to extant / existing life. Now THAT is cool. To clarify things I sent the following request to NASA PAO "Can the Mars 2020 rover detect extant/existing life on Mars?  Will NASA be looking for extant/existing life on Mars?" Let's see how they respond.

Keith's 25 Aug update: Well it has been nearly a month. Dwayne Brown from NASA SMD PAO specifically asked media reps who were on the telecon to send him any questions via email they might have and that he'd get an answer back to them. I haven't heard a thing from him since I sent him the email he requested (wth cc: to SMD management). Either NASA cannot/will not answer this rather simple question or it is not on Dwayne's priority list right now.

Keith's 27 Aug update: I have sent additional requests via email to NASA SMD and PAO. No response.

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SpaceX Delays AsiaSat 6 - Just To Be Doubly Certain

By Keith Cowing on August 26, 2014 10:17 PM.

SpaceX Update on AsiaSat 6 Mission

"What we do want to triple-check is whether even highly improbable corner case scenarios have the optimal fault detection and recovery logic. This has already been reviewed by SpaceX and multiple outside agencies, so the most likely outcome is no change. If any changes are made, we will provide as much detail as is allowed under U.S. law."

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Lots Of Websites ≠ Good Web Practice

By Keith Cowing on August 25, 2014 9:12 AM.

When NASA Moves Its Websites to the Cloud, Everyone Watches, Nextgov

"The space agency has more than 1,500 public-facing websites and 2,000 intranets, extranets and applications, and the agency's data offerings and holdings are huge. "These guys have probably the most expansive list of Web assets," Ananthanpillai said. "That's one of the reasons why everyone's looking at them for lessons learned.""

NASA is Unable (and Unwilling) To Coordinate Its Websites, earlier post

"So, NASA is paying to maintain two MSL websites and the web addresses they give out are different than the actual web addresses - but they won't bother to put the actual addresses in press releases. Meanwhile, NASA is paying for 2 (or 3) MER websites - and again the links put in the press release are not the actual website address."

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Russia Changes its Mind on ISS Shutdown in 2020

By Keith Cowing on August 25, 2014 7:09 AM.

Russia may carry on ISS project after 2020 - newspaper, Interfax

"If we take a look at the relevant section of the federal space program, we will see that the Russian Academy of Sciences is the ISS project customer. Our American partners have said many times they wished to continue the ISS operations after 2020. When they heard our leaders saying that Russia wanted to close down the project in 2020, they fostered the interaction with scientists and made interesting propositions of works in the period after 2020. A yearlong mission of a U.S. astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut to the ISS is scheduled for 2015," the Roscosmos source told Izvestia. He said the Americans had offered the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences to arrange another yearlong mission experiment. "Meanwhile, Roscosmos is not very interested in halting the ISS works right now: the federal space program of 2006-2015 allots 186.6 billion rubles for the station. If we stop building new modules of the station, considerable funds will be written off and some enterprises will have to start massive dismissals," he added."

- Russia Shuts Off RD-180 & GPS Stations; Cancels ISS post-2020, earlier post
- Who Is Actually In Charge of the Space Station?, earlier post

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Not so Fast: Galileo Satellites in Wrong Orbit

By Marc Boucher on August 23, 2014 9:53 AM.

Europe's Latest Galileo Satellites Injected Into Wrong Orbit After Launch, SpaceRef Business

"An investigation is underway after yesterday's launch by Arianespace of a Soyuz rocket which left its twin payload of Europe's fifth and six Galileo GPS satellites in a lower wrong orbit.

According to a statement released by Arianespace "complementary observations gathered after separation of the Galileo FOC M1 satellites on Soyuz Flight VS09 have highlighted a discrepancy between targeted and reached orbit."

Galileo Launch, Initially Hailed as Success, Is a Failure, Space News

Marc's note: After congratulatory speeches it was later learned from U.S. military data that the satellites were in the wrong orbit. One of the many questions include why didn't the launch telemetry indicate the wrong orbit? The almost two hour Arianespace broadcast did not indicate anything wrong. Details courtesy Space News Paris Bureau Chief Peter B. de Selding.

Marc's update: Based on what we know now this could be a candidate mission for future on-orbit servicing.

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Video: SpaceX Grasshopper Destroyed During Test Flight

By Keith Cowing on August 22, 2014 8:39 PM.

"Earlier today, in McGregor, Texas, SpaceX conducted a test flight of a three engine version of the F9R test vehicle (successor to Grasshopper). During the flight, an anomaly was detected in the vehicle and the flight termination system automatically terminated the mission. Throughout the test and subsequent flight termination, the vehicle remained in the designated flight area. There were no injuries or near injuries. An FAA representative was present at all times. With research and development projects, detecting vehicle anomalies during the testing is the purpose of the program. Today's test was particularly complex, pushing the limits of the vehicle further than any previous test. As is our practice, the company will be reviewing the flight record details to learn more about the performance of the vehicle prior to our next test. SpaceX will provide another update when the flight data has been fully analyzed." Categories:


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NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 28 August 2014

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 28 August 2014 Video in Story

Today: Robonaut Leg Installation: Commander (CDR) Swanson attached Robonaut's mobility legs to the torso.

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