NASA Needs More Money to Meet Space Goals, Panel Finds, Washington Post
"Don't try to put astronauts on Mars yet -- too hard, too costly. Go to the moon -- maybe. Or build rockets that could zip around the inner solar system, visiting asteroids, maybe a Martian moon. Keep the International Space Station going until 2020 rather than crash it into the Pacific in 2016. Help underwrite commercial space flight the same way the United States gave the airline business a boost in the 1920s with air mail."
"A blue-ribbon study group is urging the Obama administration to rely on private enterprise to reduce costs and accelerate broad access to low Earth orbit, comparing budding entrepreneurial space efforts to the 1920s, when air-mail contracts sparked a boom in U.S. commercial aviation."
"A presidential panel told the White House today that NASA is on an "unsustainable trajectory" and to preserve a "meaningful" human spaceflight program, NASA needs an additional $3 billion annually and a mandate to work closely with other countries and private companies."
"A White House panel of independent space experts says NASA's return-to-the-moon plan just won't fly. The problem is money. The expert panel estimates it would cost about $3 billion a year beyond NASA's current $18 billion annual budget. "Under the budget that was proposed, exploration beyond Earth is not viable," panel member Edward Crawley, a professor of aeronautics at MIT, told The Associated Press Tuesday."
"It's pretty clear NASA needs more money," said Dr. Ed Crawley, panel member. "We basically said human exploration beyond low Earth orbit is not obtainable within the fiscal year 2010 budget. We did not find a credible plan that would fit within the budget."
"Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Astrium announce a contract for a SpaceX Falcon 1e to launch an Earth observation satellite designed by Astrium or its recently acquired subsidiary Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL). The Falcon 1e is an 'enhanced' version of SpaceX's successful Falcon 1 launch vehicle. Designed from the ground up by SpaceX, the Falcon 1e has upgraded propulsion, structures and avionics systems in order to further improve reliability and bring to market increased mass-to-orbit capability to better serve the needs of the small satellite community. Astrium and SSTL provide a range of innovative, cutting edge Earth Observation satellite products and through this agreement will be able to offer customers a turnkey solution, with in-orbit delivery of a low Earth orbit satellite system."
"The U.S. human spaceflight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory. It is perpetuating the perilous practice of pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources. Space operations are among the most complex and unforgiving pursuits ever undertaken by humans. It really is rocket science. Space operations become all the more difficult when means do not match aspirations. Such is the case today.
The nation is facing important decisions on the future of human spaceflight. Will we leave the close proximity of low-Earth orbit, where astronauts have circled since 1972, and explore the solar system, charting a path for the eventual expansion of human civilization into space? If so, how will we ensure that our exploration delivers the greatest benefit to the nation? Can we explore with reasonable assurances of human safety? And, can the nation marshal the resources to embark on the mission ...
... The Committee strongly believes it is time for NASA to reassume its crucial role of developing new technologies for space. Today, the alternatives available for exploration systems are severely limited because of the lack of a strategic investment in technology development in past decades. NASA now has an opportunity to develop a technology roadmap that is aligned with an exploration mission that will last for decades. If appropriately funded, a technology development program would re-engage the minds at American universities, in industry and within NASA. The investments should be designed to increase the capabilities and reduce the costs of future exploration. This will benefit human and robotic exploration, the commercial space community, and other U.S. government users."
"In anticipation of the final report, we continue to work with OSTP and other representatives from the Executive Office of the President on our strategy to review and evaluate the options put forth by the committee. Ultimately, of course, the President will make the final decision."
Sent: Friday, September 04, 2009 3:21 PM
Subject: My Notes: Final Node 3 relocation charts
From this afternoon's meeting with Mr. Suffredini concerning the Node 3 relocation plan.
Node 3 is to remain on the N1p port, and no further work is to be given to the Node 3 temp storage on N1p and later re-location to N1n plan. The PLM will be located N1n, because this location requires the least MMOD shielding (reducing launch weight, and preparation costs).
The Cupola will remain in the planned location. When it looks like Orion may fly, the program will re-look at moving the Cupola at that time to provide a back-up docking port.
The desire to relocate Node 3 was to provide a back-up port for each visiting vehicle, and also to provide 2 additional available ports for future growth of ISS. Mr. Suffredini noted that Biggalow has approached NASA about docking a module to ISS, which he would like to try to accommodate. However, the cost and risk impacts to performing the Node 3 relocation in FY2010 drove the decision to not relocate Node 3.
It was noted my many in the room that if needed in the future, the team thought they could find a way to relocate the Node 3 at that time (given more time to work on the plan and to provided the needed hardware, training and procedures, etc.).
Augustine Review: October summit set to reveal NASA's forward path, NASAspaceflight.com
"The strategic direction of NASA is set to be announced in the first week of October, when new administrator Charlie Bolden and Human Space Flight Review panel chairman Norm Augustine conduct a NASA Executive Summit for all Senior Executive Service employees."
Keith's note: First of all some clarification: this article originally said that the meeting was 5-6 October and yet later in the article it also said it was to be held on 6-7 October. Then the article was changed to say 6-7 October. The earlier version is making the rounds via email. There is indeed an "2009 NASA Executive Summit" being held at the Reagan Building on 6-7 October, not on 5-6 October. Second of all Norm Augustine is not on the draft agenda and is not going to "conduct" any part of this meeting. Ed Crawley has been "invited" (but not confirmed) to speak. OSTP Director John Holdren has also been invited (but also not confirmed) to speak.
"Registration is Now Open (Advance Registration Required) NASA will host a Tweetup with space shuttle Endeavour's STS-127 crew from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT Sept. 24 at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The astronauts will discuss their recent mission to the International Space Station. A Tweetup is an informal meeting of people who use the social messaging medium Twitter. This Tweetup is an opportunity to meet and speak with the STS-127 crew and the staff behind the tweets on @NASA. Plus, you'll get to mingle with other space-exploration-minded Tweeps."
"NASA will hold the annual Desert "RATS," or Research and Technology Studies, field test in the Arizona desert this fall, hosting a media day for journalists on Sept. 15. Desert RATS will help determine what technologies and capabilities will be needed when NASA takes future trips beyond Earth. The tests will include a simulated 14-day mission during which two crew members -- an astronaut and a geologist -- will live inside NASA's prototype Lunar Electric Rover. They will scout the test area for features of geological interest and conduct simulated moonwalks to collect samples."
Power Droids at Desert RATS, OnOrbit
"Green Trail Energy has partnered with the Challenger Center for Space Science Education to provide logistical and technical support for Education and Public Outreach (EPO) to be done at NASA's annual Desert RATS activity in Arizona this month. This activity is made possible by a Space Act Agreement between NASA and the Challenger Center. ... The GSW7000 portable power system, whose utilization is being donated to this activity by Green Trail Energy, can provide 2.4 KW of wind power and 4.4 KW of solar power. With its extendable 106 foot tower, it can also serve as a cell phone node and provide WiFi and WiMAX connectivity."
Power Droids Arrive at Desert RATS, OnOrbit
"Both the larger GSW7000 portable power system aka the "Power Droid" and a smaller Solar power/ communications trailer (the mini-Power Droid) arrived in Flagstaff today and ready for operations."
Ares may look dead but keeps kicking, Orlando Sentinel
"Nonetheless, senior executives from NASA's contractors -- including Alliant Techsystems Inc., or ATK; The Boeing Co.; Pratt Whitney; and Lockheed Martin Corp -- held a teleconference Thursday to map out a strategy to press for more money to keep Ares and Orion alive. Astronauts employed by contractors working on the project wrote an op-ed piece urging the White House and Congress to "stay the course." And the rocket's backers hit the airwaves and blogosphere, insisting that NASA engineers have found solutions to the rocket's major technical problems, including the likelihood it would drift into its launch tower on liftoff and shake violently enough to injure the astronauts aboard. Last week, the campaign hit the Internet with a video on YouTube that encourages viewers to tell Congress and the White House that NASA should stick with Ares and not "take a chance" with other spacecraft designs."
According to the Augustine Committee's website: "09.03.2009 - A Summary Report is in final preparations for transmittal to the Office of Science and Technology Policy and NASA on Tuesday, September 8, 2009."
The "Deciders" of NASA's future - Augustine Committee, YouTube
"At President Obama's request, a committee known as the Augustine Committee is reviewing Americas plans for Human Space Exploration. Although a thorough review was conducted four years ago--and a direction chosen, contracts awarded, tests conducted, and rockets built--the Augustine committee wants to stop work and do something new. This will widen the gap between the retirement of the shuttle and its replacement vehicle, waste billions of dollars and threaten Americas presence in space. You can STOP this."
"Fabian Tischer, 28, grew up just a few miles from the telecommunications tower and produced the clip to realise his childhood fantasy of watching the iconic building lift off into space. "As a child, I used to think the TV tower in the centre of the former capital of East Germany was a rocket. And now, with my technical possibilities, I have transformed it into that," he told Telegraph.co.uk."
Chandrayaan-I was 'killed' by heat stroke, Times of India
"The reasons for early termination of the Chandrayaan-I mission are now tumbling out and they reveal that ISRO had kept the Moon orbiter's problems tightly under wraps. Contrary to the space agency's explanation that Chandrayaan's orbit around the Moon had been raised from 100km to 200km in May this year for a better view of the Moon's surface, it is now known that this was because of a miscalculation of the Moon's temperature that had led to faulty thermal protection. Admitting this, Dr T K Alex, director, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, said, "We assumed that the temperature at 100km above the Moon's surface would be around 75 degrees Celsius. However, it was more than 75 degrees and problems started to surface. We had to raise the orbit to 200km."
Astronauts reflect on their experiences, San Diego Union-Tribune
"We'll march on Washington, if that's what he wants us to do." Glynn Lunney, a leader in Mission Control during Apollo 13; he later oversaw the Space Shuttle program in its early years: "I like what they're doing at the moment with the Space Shuttle. But I gather there's a major review going on. There's a sense of being on hold. "We were incredibly fortunate to be personally part of the space program. The more I think about what we did in the '60s, it's hard to believe we landed on the moon. It's wonderful to reflect on. It feels good."
Museums ready to salute 'living legends', San Diego Union-Tribune
"I know we could do it, but we're not going to," said Alan Bean, an astronaut aboard Apollo 12 and the fourth man to walk on the moon. "I want to go, but I know I'm in the minority." The nation was driven in the 1960s by the desire to prove its superiority over the Soviets, Bean said. Without a similar motivation now, returning to the moon will be viewed by most Americans as too expensive. "Future generations will have to find a reason," he said. "There's just not a reason now."
Keith's note: I have been told repeatedly by NASA HQ PAO that NASA PAO policy is to not issue materials such as press releases under embargo to media prior to their public release. Yet I have caught JPL doing this multiple times. When I ask JPL PAO chief Veronica McGregor about this she simply refuses to respond. This time my inquiry concerned a press release regarding NASA research, issued under embargo by the ESO for the recent IAU meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. When I asked JPL PAO about this I got zero response (again). So, I filed a FOIA request with both NASA HQ and JPL. NASA HQ's FOIA officer replied "The NASA Headquarters Office of Public Affairs conducted a search and from that search no records were found responsive to your request, Public Affairs also stated that there is no policy for this topic." Curious.
"PMA-3 Heater Cable Installation: After the EVA-2 crew discovered that the PMA-3 (Pressurized Mating Adapter 3) is rotated ("clocked") 90 degrees off ("tail nadir") from the expected orientation ("tail aft"), further evaluation by ground teams confirmed that the on-board jumper harness is not long enough in this orientation. Therefore, this task will not be performed during EVA-3. It was also confirmed that the actual PMA-3 orientation is the same as in 2007 (Expedition 15) before it was relocated to Node-1 nadir, and that this is the correct orientation expected for HTV rendezvous/berthing. There are currently no plans to rectify the situation which requires that entrances to PMA-3 need to be restricted to certain (solar-heated) Beta angle periods to prevent condensation within the module. The root cause for this discrepancy is under investigation."
"NASA must remain the world leader in human spaceflight and lead humankind to prepare for missions to Mars. We are going to Mars because it is civilization's next major challenge. The Apollo generation had Gemini and Mercury--stepping stones that made the impossible possible. The generation born today is going to Mars; its stepping stones will be the ISS and other shorter-term destinations along the way. Some will be able to experience the journey first hand and many more will be able to experience it virtually. It is exciting, inspiring and what NASA should be doing."
Keith's note: According to NASA PAO "Some of us became aware of the document today. As you might guess, a lot of people inside and outside the agency are suggesting ideas in anticipation of the Augustine Committee's final report. We consider this little more than a brainstorming exercise by its authors. NASA will do nothing to get in front of the Committee's work. Until the final report is delivered and we have had time to thoughtfully consider the options presented, it would be premature for anyone to present a path forward."
"NASA managers have crafted a draft proposal that outlines a plan to skip going back to the moon and places the space agency on course to send astronauts to Mars."
NASA aims for a Mars landing in 30 years, Orlando Sentinel
"It is unknown who wrote the paper, although NASA officials acknowledged it came from inside the agency. The proposal was published Friday afternoon on NASAWatch.com from unknown authors inside of NASA's Exploration Mission directorate, the same NASA division that runs Constellation. Another uncertainty: whether there are competing white papers within the agency and how much power the authors wield within the agency. This could affect its chances of becoming real."
Space experts question proposed NASA Mars goal, Huntsville Times
"During public hearings, the Augustine panel has said repeatedly NASA probably will not receive a hefty budget increase, Cowing pointed out. "Supporters of space regularly have a problem translating their enthusiasm for space to the general public," he said. "The public has other issues they are concerned with. If you inelegantly explain this as just 'Give me more money,' then it will drop with a resonating thud. "NASA has to make a compelling case that anybody on the street will agree and say 'Give me some of that.'"
"Last night we lifted our declaration of Spacecraft Emergency with DSN with concurrence from the Center. We have implemented a number of mitigations to try to assure that we are in a more robust position against propellant lost as we finish the remaining 30-days of the mission. Our work is of course not done as we continue to navigate our risk for the remainder of the mission, but we need to be aware of other risks which have grown through this process... namely staff fatigue. While our new ConOps plan requires we check S/C health every 9-hours, we are looking into ways to make that monitoring as efficient as possible by setting-up remote access and by seeing if other assets can monitor for our S/C "phone home" if the S/C is in trouble."