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USAF Gives SpaceX Certification

By Keith Cowing on May 26, 2015 10:43 PM.

USAF Space and Missiles System Center Certifies SpaceX for National Security Space Missions

"Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, Commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space, has announced the certification of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation's (SpaceX) Falcon 9 Launch System for national security space missions. SpaceX is now eligible for award of qualified national security space launch missions as one of two currently certified launch providers. The first upcoming opportunity for SpaceX to compete to provide launch services is projected to be in June when the Air Force releases a Request for Proposal (RFP) for GPS III launch services."

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Sally Ride's Google Doodle

By Keith Cowing on May 26, 2015 11:35 AM.

http://images.spaceref.com/news/2015/ride.gif

Sally Ride: Behind the Google Doodle that marks the late space pioneer's birthday, Washington Post

"Sally Ride, this trailblazing astronaut turned physics professor, for so long keenly studied, and then for so long taught, the laws of bodies in motion, as one thread in her lifelong work in science and technology. So it's especially fitting that Google unveils a "Behind the Doodle" animation, as we get to see Ride's own inspiring life-trajectory in motion. Sally Ride, in so many ways, still seems right out of central casting, as if the tale of an American space star was dreamt up in Los Angeles where, in fact, she was born."

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A NASA Spinoff That Saved Lives

By Keith Cowing on May 26, 2015 11:25 AM.

Using Space Radar To Hear Human Heartbeats in Nepal, SpaceRef

"On 24 April 2015 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal - a nation woefully unprepared to respond to such an event. Dozens of aftershocks have rattled the country daily for the past month. One especially large aftershock of magnitude 7.4 on 12 May caused the already-shattered infrastructure to collapse further. Nepal needed help - help that did not rely upon a non-functional infrastructure. Much of the help was traditional. But some of that help arrived in the form of assets in space and space-derived assets on the ground."

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Breaking The RD-180 Addiction

By Keith Cowing on May 22, 2015 9:10 AM.

Lockheed-Boeing rocket venture needs commercial orders to survive, Reuters

"Bruno last week announced a 30-percent cut in management as part of the restructuring. On Thursday he said Boeing and Lockheed were still approving investment in the new Vulcan rocket only one quarter at a time given uncertainty about how Russian engines the company can use to compete for national security launches. He said the Air Force had a strong argument to request a Pentagon waiver if Congress continues to block use of Russian engines ordered but not paid for before the Crimea invasion. Barring a waiver or change in the current law, ULA would only be able to compete for five Air Force launches between 2019 and 2022, when the new rocket is expected to be certified. ULA says its other rocket, the Delta 4, costs too much to compete. "We must have access to the Atlas as a competitive platform until we have the replacement rocket engine. There really is no Plan B," he said."

America Plays Russian Rocket Roulette, Wall Street Journal

"But recent allegations that Mr. Putin's cronies gain big rewards from the RD-180s (by inflating delivered engine costs and taking other markups via various middlemen) are damaging to the pro-Russian-rocket side. After a November 2014 Reuters report on the purchases of rockets with RD-180 engines, Sen. John McCain said in a statement that he had long been concerned that U.S. taxpayers "are paying millions of dollars to companies that may have done no work but merely served as a 'pass-through' to enrich corrupt Russian businessmen connected with Vladimir Putin." Let's be clear: No one should play down the significance of the Air Force's concern about ensuring reliable access to space. And despite some bluster in Moscow about holding up shipments of RD-180 engines, no reports have surfaced of delivery delays. Moscow desperately needs the hard currency."

Putin-backed RD-180 Markup Scheme Unveiled, earlier post

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Space Commerce Legislation Cracks Along Partisan Lines

By Keith Cowing on May 21, 2015 2:51 PM.

McCarthy-Smith SPACE Act Passes with Broad Bipartisan Support, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

"House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today joined House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in praising passage of H.R. 2262, the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 or SPACE Act. Almost 50 Democrats joined Republicans to pass the bill with broad bipartisan support, 284-133."

"House Passes Commercial Space Industry Wish List - Misses Opportunity to Pass Bill that Could Become Law, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Democrats

"Today the House passed H.R. 2262, the SPACE Act of 2015. The bill takes a fundamentally unbalanced approach to the issues facing the commercial space launch industry. Moving far beyond addressing the legitimate needs of the industry, the bill is heavily skewed towards industry's desires. .. Congresswoman Edwards said, "Pursuing House passage of a bill that is going nowhere in the Senate seems to me to be the ultimate exercise in futility, and one that does a real disservice to the commercial space launch industry that we all are trying to help succeed. But we don't have to go down that path."

- Pro-Commercial Space Bills Approved in Committee, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
- Congress Can Help the Commercial Launch Industry This Week if We're All Willing to Work Together, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Democrats
- Hultgren: SPACE Act Facilitates Pro-Growth Environment for Commercial Space Sector (with video)
- The Facts Behind SPACE Act, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
- Chairman Smith Speaks in Support of SPACE Act (Remarks), House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
- Recent posts on Congress and NASA

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Yet Another Stealth NASA Briefing On Mars Mission Concepts

By Keith Cowing on May 20, 2015 11:55 AM.

NASA FISO Telecon: A Scenario for a Human Mission to Mars Orbit in the 2030s

"Our Wednesday, May 20, Future In-Space Operations (FISO) telecon colloquium will host Mr. Hoppy Price (JPL) who will speak on "A Scenario for a Human Mission to Mars Orbit in the 2030s. As always, the colloquium will be at 3pm ET. And please note that there is a new dial-in number for the colloquium as NASA has migrated to a new service: TEL: 844 467 4685 PC: 442398"

Keith's note: If you go to NASA's Journey to Mars page there is no mention of this NASA-sponsored, openly-accessible telecon regarding a NASA study of how the agency might go to Mars. There is no mention of this telecon on NASA's calendar either - nor is there mention on NASA's Human Exploration and Operations home page, or NASA Goddard's home page (where telecon organizer Harley Thronson works), or on JPL's home page where presenter Hoppy Price works. Indeed, this NASA-funded JPL study apparently had a lot to do with the Planetary Society's recent stealth Mars workshop (note the agenda). Yet the Planetary Society is mum on this too.

Continue reading: Yet Another Stealth NASA Briefing On Mars Mission Concepts.

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Bolden's Plan: Americans on Mars in 2016

By Keith Cowing on May 20, 2015 8:08 AM.

Investing in Our Journey to Mars Posted on May 19, 2015 at 6:01 pm by Administrator Charles Bolden.

"This at a time when a new consensus is emerging around NASA's goal, timetable, and plan for sending American astronauts to Mars by 2016. Make no mistake: This plan is clear. This plan is affordable, and this plan is sustainable."

Keith's note: "Sending American astronauts to Mars by 2016" Charlie? Really?

This is a screengrab of what the blog post originally looked like - NASA eventually changed the post to say "2030s".

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Cutting The Notional #JourneyToMars Budget

By Keith Cowing on May 19, 2015 8:45 PM.

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White House Responds to House Legislation Affecting NASA

By Keith Cowing on May 19, 2015 6:48 PM.

OMB Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 2262 - Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (SPACE) Act of 2015

"The Administration strongly supports the development of a commercial space sector that pushes the boundaries of space exploration while creating jobs and strengthening the American economy. The American commercial launch industry is the most competitive in the world. Over the past several years, the industry has rapidly increased its share of the global market for sending satellites and other payloads into space. The Administration agrees with the goal of H.R. 2262 to bring more stability and certainty to this growing market. While the Administration does not oppose House passage of the bill, it has serious concerns with certain provisions of the bill."

OMB Letters to House Appropriations Committee Regarding FY 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill

"The bill cuts support for NASA's Commercial Crew Program by $243 million, or 20 percent, relative to the President's Budget. The Commercial Crew Program will build a safe and costeffective U.S. capability to launch astronauts to the space station. The Subcommittee bill cuts will delay the program and force continued reliance on and payment for Russian capabilities for transporting U.S. astronauts. While directing an impractical level of funding toward the Jupiter Europa mission, the bill cuts important NASA Science programs by more than $200 million compared to the President's Budget, jeopardizing Earth Science missions that are helping us understand how our climate is changing and respond to earthquakes, droughts, and severe weather events. The bill also reduces investments in Space Technology by $100 million, or 14 percent, delaying development of a cutting-edge laser communication system and other space technology demonstrations, slowing progress on the journey to Mars, and impacting the international competitiveness of the U.S. commercial space industry."

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Another NASA Spinoff That NASA Ignores

By Keith Cowing on May 19, 2015 3:34 PM.

First In Humans Clinical Trial Demonstrates Non-Invasive Expulsion of Kidney Stones, NSBRI

"The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) announced that Dr. Jonathan Harper will present the findings of an FDA-registered "first in humans" trial to non-surgically propel and expel kidney stones from the body, during today's plenary session at the 2015 American Urological Association (AUA) annual meeting in New Orleans. ... This clinical trial has been advanced with funding from NSBRI, as a project within the portfolio of the Institute's Smart Medical Systems and Technology (SMST) Team. The goal of the SMST Team is to develop intelligent, integrated medical systems to deliver quality health care during spaceflight and exploration. New technologies developed by this team also deliver immediate benefits for medical care on Earth."

Keith's note: NASA funding into space exploration has resulted in technology with clear potential to deliver health benefits to the population as whole back on Earth. This is the sort of "spinoff" NASA yearns to develop. But try and find mention of this news online at NASA at ISS National Lab, CASIS, NASA Spinoff page, NASA Technology, etc. You won't. Why?

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House Budget For NASA Comes Into Focus

By Keith Cowing on May 19, 2015 11:21 AM.

- Report No. 114-____] Making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes. (NASA starts on Page 58).

- REPORT [To accompany _____] The Committee on Appropriations submits the following report in explanation of the accompanying bill making appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes.

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How To Calm a Jittery Astronaut

By Keith Cowing on May 19, 2015 12:56 AM.

Russian Cosmonaut Says Alcohol Should Be Allowed on ISS, MosNews (2005)

"The Russian cosmonaut said that it would be "desirable" for spacemen to have 50 milliliters of wine or cognac every day. "But only to improve our work, to better cope with the psychological stress," Sharipov said."

Keith's note: Perhaps this is a good idea. It sure beats the alternatives if on-orbit "psychological stress" is allowed to go untreated ... ISS Emergency Procedures: Behavioral - Suicidal - Emergency and Behavioral - Acute Psychosis

"Talk with the patient while you are restraining him. Explain what you are doing, and that you are using a restraint to ensure that he is safe. Restrain patient using Gray Tape around wrists, ankles, and use a bungee around the torso. Administer 5 mg *Valium (Diazepam) Oral (P1-A12) - Sedative, (blue) anticonvulsant, antiseizure drug"

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NASA OIG General Semiannual Report

By Keith Cowing on May 18, 2015 9:16 PM.

NASA Office of Inspector General Semiannual Report October 2014 - March 2015

"Over the past year, the Office of Inspector General has raised concerns about the sustainability of NASA's varied missions given that the Agency's "top-line" funding level is likely to remain relatively flat for at least the next several years. Accordingly, we believe the principal challenge facing NASA leaders is to effectively manage the Agency's varied programs in an uncertain budget environment."

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Dava Newman Reports for Duty at NASA

By Keith Cowing on May 18, 2015 4:42 PM.

NASA Administrator: Please Welcome Deputy Administrator Dava Newman

"Please join me in welcoming Deputy Administrator Dava Newman to NASA! Dr. Newman took her Oath of Office on Friday, and today is her first full day on the job. On a personal note, I have known and admired Dava for several decades. Her talents and skills as an educator and technological innovator will bring a new energy to our NASA leadership team, and I'm ecstatic to have her on board."

Dava Newman Begins Work as NASA's Deputy Administrator

"Along with Bolden, Newman is responsible to the agency administrator for providing overall leadership, planning, and policy direction for NASA. Newman will perform the duties and exercises the powers delegated by the administrator, assists the administrator in making final agency decisions, and acts for the administrator in his absence by performing all necessary functions to govern NASA operations and exercises the powers vested in the agency by law. Newman also is responsible for articulating the agency's vision and representing NASA to the Executive Office of the President, Congress, heads of federal and other appropriate government agencies, international organizations, and external organizations and communities."

New NASA Deputy Administrator is a Radio Ham, Southgate Amateur Radio News

"Prof. Dava Newman KB1HIK was sworn in as NASA Deputy Administrator on May 15 from her MIT office"


Knights Templar Inspired Business Moves at ULA

By Keith Cowing on May 18, 2015 10:26 AM.

Lockheed-Boeing venture lays off 12 executives in major reorganization, Reuters

"United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, on Friday said it was cutting its executive ranks by 30 percent in December through what it called voluntary departures by 12 executives. Tory Bruno, chief executive of the venture, told Reuters in an emailed statement the layoffs were part of ULA's ongoing efforts to adapt to what he called "an increasingly competitive business environment" and redesign its leadership team. ULA, formed by the two largest U.S. weapons makers in 2006, has long been the sole company able to launch U.S. military and intelligence satellites into orbit, but the Air Force expects to certify a new rival, privately-held Space Exploration Technologies, to compete for some of those launches next month."

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NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 22 May 2015

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 22 May 2015

Today: Ocular Health (OH): Virts and Cristoforetti completed their Return (R)-30 OH today. They each performed ultrasounds of their eye with the assistance of the other crewmember acting as a Crew Medical Officer (CMO).

More updates...

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