Mae Jemison For NASA Administrator?

NASA Watch is reporting rumors that Mae Jemison is a candidate for NASA administrator. Interesting idea I believe she would be the First Female and the First African American NASA Administrator. She certainly has space experience.

Air Force Gen. J. Scott Gration is going to be special envoy to Sudan. I didn’t think he was ever a serious candidate of Administrator, I thought they were using NASA for policy experiments, a trial balloon. Since no skeletons appeared when his name was proposed and the only criticism was his lack of space experience. He is a safe choice for a politically sensitive and important job.

Sen. Nelson seems to have issues with Steve Isakowitz. But I think his experience at the Department of Energy (DOE) could be a major asset if President Obama decides to make space solar power a priority since it has the issue that NASA doesn’t do energy and DOE doesn’t do space. Steve Isakowitz could bridge that gap and foster a joint program.

Obama Extending Life Of The Shuttle

In an answer from a question from Mark Matthews of the Orlando Sentinel about the future of the space shuttle-

OBAMA: First of all, we have authorized were budgeted for additional shuttle launches that had not been scheduled. So we’re extending the life of the shuttle because a) I think it is doing some important work and b) we are very mindful of the economic impact of the space program in the region.

It is unclear how many more shuttle mission over and for how long the President intends to keep flying the shuttle. It may not be possible to extend shuttle flights for much longer than planned.

GAO – NASA Assessments of Selected Large-Scale Projects

Government Accountability Office released NASA Assessments of Selected Large-Scale Projects

What GAO Found

GAO assessed 18 NASA projects with a combined life-cycle cost of more than $50 billion. Of those, 10 out of 13 projects that had entered the implementation phase experienced signifi cant cost and/or schedule growth. For these 10 projects, development costs increased by an average of 13 percent from baseline cost estimates that were established just 2 or 3 years ago and they had an average launch delay of 11-months. In some cases, cost growth was considerably higher than what is reported because it had occurred prior to the most recent baseline. Many of the projects we reviewed experienced challenges in developing new technologies or retrofi tting older technologies as well as in managing their contractors, and more generally, understanding the risks and challenges they were up against when they started their efforts.

GAO’s previous work has consistently shown that reducing the kinds of problems this assessment identifi es in acquisition programs hinges on developing a sound business case for a project. In essence, this means establishing firm requirements, maturing technologies, and assuring other vital resources, such as time and funding, are suffi cient before making long-term commitments to acquisitions. NASA has acted to adopt practices that would ensure programs proceed based on a sound business case and undertaken an array of initiatives aimed at improving program management, cost estimating, and contractor oversight. Continued attention to these efforts should help maximize NASA’s acquisition investments.

NSS Comment on NASA FY 2010 Budget

The National Space Society (NSS) was informed that President Obama has requested $18.7 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for Fiscal Year 2010, an increase of $900 million over the current year’s budget. The Recovery Act (stimulus bill) passed earlier this month provided an additional $1 billion to NASA.

“We are pleased that one of the four budget priorities for NASA includes returning Americans to the Moon,” Greg Allison, NSS Executive Vice President, said. “This is a worthy goal for the world’s leading space agency. It will challenge a new generation of American scientists and engineers, open vast new resources for economic development, and drive improvements in technology.”

Other areas highlighted in the budget were climate change research and monitoring, aeronautic research, and completion and utilization of the International Space Station. “We agree with the Administration’s decision to stick with the plan to retire the shuttle by the end of 2010,” Allison added. “This is necessary to keep new launch vehicle development on schedule.” The Ares launch system is not expected to be ready until 2015, requiring the United States to purchase rides to space from the Russians in the interim.

No details were yet available regarding programs such as additional funds for Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) to provide cargo to the International Space Station, or funds for research into Space Solar Power. NSS members expressed their support for these programs to their members of Congress during the NSS and Space Exploration Alliance Blitz on Capitol Hill earlier this week.

“Both of these programs are vital to the long-term economic health of our nation,” Allison said. “COTS is needed to spur the development of less-expensive launch vehicles by the private sector, and research into space solar power now will allow the United States to reap the long-term rewards of an endless supply of clean energy.”

Media contact:
Brett Silcox
Phone: (202) 429-1600
E-mail: nsshq@nss.org

About National Space Society

The National Space Society (NSS) is an independent, grassroots organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring civilization. Founded in 1974, NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen’s voice on space. NSS counts thousands of members and more than 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The society also publishes Ad Astra magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important developments in space. For more information about NSS, visit http://www.nss.org/.

New Book: "Remembering the Space Age"

A new NASA Special Publication (SP-4703) entitled Remembering the Space Age was released this month and is now available on the NSS website as a 9-megabyte PDF download.

This book is not just another space history. Instead, it examines the meaning of the Space Age in the broadest possible sense. It is an examination of the place of space exploration in human history and how the record of the Space Age has been preserved and represented in the wider culture.

The 480-page book consists of a collection of 21 essays stemming from an October 2007 conference sponsored by the NASA History Division and the National Air and Space Museum to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the dawn of the Space Age.

The essays cover a diverse range of topics from “Robert A. Heinlein’s Influence on Spaceflight” to “Cosmonaut Nostalgia in Soviet and Post-Soviet Film” to “China’s Human Spaceflight Program and Chinese National Identity” to “Cultural Functions of Space Exploration,” and much more.

A hard copy of the book retails for $54, but the PDF version is free and has been added to the online NSS Space Policy Library.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Programmatic Workshop on NASA Lunar Surface Systems Concepts

February 25-27, 2009
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC

As part of an ongoing collaboration, NASA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC) Space Enterprise Council (SEC) are conducting a workshop on NASA Lunar Surface Systems (LSS) Concepts. The objective is to provide a status of NASA’s lunar surface exploration architecture, to share results of recent innovative lunar concept studies, and to seek feedback from U.S. industry and other interested parties. The workshop will include briefings on NASA, industry, and university analyses performed for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) and Constellation Program (CxP), with particular emphasis on a recently completed suite of lunar surface study contracts administered by the Constellation Program’s LSS Project Office.

Remembering Space Pioneer Konrad K. Dannenberg

Space pioneer Konrad K. Dannenberg passed away on the 16th of February 2009 at the age of 96. He was not only one of the last of Wernher Von Braun’s original rocket team, but one of the most active publicly. In the 1920’s Dannenberg began his rocketry career developing mail rockets after a lecture by Max Valier inspired his interest in space. Mr. Dannenberg designed the injectors for the A4 “V-2” rocket. Dannenberg went to Ft. Bliss Texas as part of Operation Paper Clip to advance US Army missile development. Later he transferred with the rest of the German Rocket Team to Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville Alabama where he became a manager on the US Army’s Jupiter and Redstone missiles. He joined NASA when the Marshall Space Flight Center was formed and became a key member of America’s first program to land people on the Moon. Mr. Dannenberg rose to the position of deputy director of the Saturn V Program, developing the largest rocket ever flown. This earned him NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal.

After retiring from NASA in 1973 Dannenberg worked extensively with young people to foster their interest in space. He was an instructor at the US Space Camp, and led the way for student flight experiments on space shuttle Get-Away-Special (GAS) canisters. As a man of vision, Dannenberg was active in the World Future Society. He was a charter member and served on the Board of Directors of the L5 Society, one of the parent societies to the National Space Society. Mr. Dannenberg played a critical role in starting Huntsville’s chapter, the Huntsville Alabama L5 Society (HAL5). He called HAL5’s first meeting.

Dannenberg was a major advocate for Newspace. He was an advisor to the Canadian X-Prize Team that sought to build an uprated manned V-2. He was there in the Mojave when Burt Rutan’s team won the X-Prize and later presented NSS’s Von Braun award to Rutan. Dannenberg’s career spanned the entire space age. He inspired many young people to seek careers in space, science, and engineering. Many engineers were inspired to excellence by the example Dannenberg established both in his areas of technology development and public service. Konrad Dannenberg set the bar that we should all strive to meet. Those of us that were honored to know Konrad will dearly miss him.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that people donate to the Skylab Restoration Fund at the US Space and Rocket Center Foundation. For more information, see www.spacecamp.com or call 256-837-3400.

NASA Advisory Council 2/5/09 Presentations

NAC Presentations from February 5, 2009

Aeronautics Committee – Gen. Lester Lyles, Chair

Audit and Finance Committee – Mr. Robert Hanisee, Chair

Exploration Committee – Gen. James J. Abrahamson, Chair
Briefing 1 – Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Status
Gen. James J. Abrahamson

Briefing 2 – Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS)
Dr. John Logsdon

Briefing 3 – ad hoc Biomedical Committee Report
Dr. Stephen Katz

Space Operations Committee – Col. Eileen Collins, Chair