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8 March 2011

Planetary Decadal Survey

Last night Steve Squyres unveiled the results of the Planetary Science Decadal Survey. The decadal is a massive document used to chart the course of planetary science for the next ten years, and it drew a huge crowd here at the conference. This decadal was different from previous ones because it specifically was tasked with coming up with a list of missions that would be achievable with the funding available …


2 August 2010

Why NASA Can't Get Stuff Done Anymore

A friend of mine from NASA Academy shared this excellent article about the ongoing NASA budget mess in congress. I haven’t been following it as closely as I used to because it’s just depressing to watch. Here are some key excerpts from the article, but you should go take a look at the rest of the article for some more details about the senate and house versions of the NASA …


12 June 2010

Ares 1-X vs Falcon 9: A Comparison

Well, I’ve been a bad space blogger, and didn’t write anything about the spectacular successful launch of  SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on June 4th. Considering the ongoing wailing and gnashing of teeth over the cancellation of Constellation in favor of using commercial rockets to send astronauts to the ISS, I thought it would be worth taking a look at how Falcon 9 compares with the Ares 1-X, which launched back …


3 June 2010

The Case for Mars: Autotuned

For me, none of the newer symphony of science videos can match the sheer catchy-ness of the original, but this one is about exploring Mars, so I can’t complain too much. Check the Symphony of Science page for other autotuned science-themed music videos.


15 April 2010

Thoughts on Obama's Space Speech

In case you missed it, you can click here to watch Obama’s speech at NASA today and read the transcript here. Overall there were not a lot of surprises in this speech. NASA still gets a budget increase. The shuttle is still on-track for cancellation, the Constellation program is also going to be canceled, with transportation to and from the ISS to be provided by private companies. The ISS will …


How and when to view today's Space Conference

Today’s space conference, including Obama’s speech, will be shown on NASA TV. Here’s the information (copied and pasted from this site): NASA will hold a conference following President Obama’s remarks about the bold new course the administration is charting for NASA and the future of U.S. leadership in human spaceflight on Thursday, April 15, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A diverse group of senior officials, space leaders, academic …


14 April 2010

Obama to speak at NASA tomorrow

Well, it looks like president Obama will be making a short visit to Kennedy Space Center tomorrow, where he will give a speech clarifying the space agency’s future. There has been a lot of speculation about what exactly he will say. Will he just promote his original plan, or has all the wailing and gnashing of teeth had some effect? I don’t know, but there are rumors flying around that …


18 March 2010

Book Review: The Next 100 Years

You would think that since I’m working at Johnson Space Center right now, I would have exciting tales from inside NASA to share with you, but I’m afraid it has been pretty uneventful. I have however managed to read a couple of books, one of which was The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century, by George Friedman. This was a really fascinating book about using history and …


NASA Administrator Addresses Budget Misconceptions

The Planetary Society blog posted this excerpt of some remarks made by Charlie Bolden on the 16th regarding NASA’s new plan. I was going to just select some key points, but really, it’s all pretty key, so I’m just going to copy shamelessly with some added emphasis: “So let me just tell you a little more about this budget. Bear with me if you’re already knowledgeable here. At the highest …


17 February 2010

How would you "Open NASA"?

As you may or may not have heard, the White House has issued an “Open Government” directive to all government agencies which requires them to come up with a plan for how they will become more participatory, collaborative and transparent. To help develop this plan, each agency, including NASA, has been given an “IdeaScale” site where members of the public can make suggestions and vote on the suggestions of others. …


1 February 2010

NASA's New Budget

The internet has been a whirlwind of wailing and gnashing of teeth, interspersed with the occasional optimistic or guarded response, as space advocates respond to Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget request for NASA. In case you haven’t heard, the main points of the FY2011 budget are nicely summarized in this overview document: Increase of $6.0 billion over 5-years (FY 2011-15) compared to the FY 2010 Budget, for a total of …


30 October 2009

Big Picture: Ares 1-X Launch

The Big Picture has a great series of photos of the Ares 1-X launch, including some really fascinating shots of all the preparation that went into it. Check it out!


28 October 2009

Ares-1X Test Launch Successful!

In case you missed it, this morning NASA launched the Ares-1X test rocket from Cape Canaveral. It was originally supposed to launch yesterday morning, but was delayed due to: a stuck cable, a boat that got within the danger zone where the rocket was expected to splashdown, and my new favorite vocabulary word “triboelectrification”. Triboelectrification is the build-up of charge due to friction, and there was apparently some concern that …


22 October 2009

NASA Human Spaceflight Review Final Report

Today, the “Augustine commission”, a group of aerospace and space exploration leaders tasked by president Obama to review NASA’s human spaceflight efforts, released their final report. It is available here, and I encourage you to read it. The set of recommendations in the report will form the foundation upon which the future of space exploration is built. I have not read the whole thing yet, but here is the concluding …


8 September 2009

Augustine Commission Summary Report Posted

I’ve posted before about the “Augustine Commission” – a panel of aerospace experts assembled to assess the status of NASA’s human spaceflight program. Well, today they released a 12 page summary of their findings. The full report is still in the works, but this 12 page summary is the short and sweet version. I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes and read the summary, but  if you don’t …


31 July 2009

Reasons for Human Space Exploration

I posted my nine reasons for human space exploration a while back, but with all the discussion of human spaceflight lately, my friend Joe Shoer, “quantum mechanic and rocket scientist extraordinaire,” decided to do the same and posted his top five reasons for sending humans to space. His are quite a bit more detailed and well-written than mine. Here’s a teaser, but you should take a look at the full …


30 July 2009

Thoughts on the Augustine Comission's Public Meetings

For the past three days, the “Augustine Commission” has been holding public meetings as part of their study of the future of NASA’s human spaceflight program.  They still have a few weeks before their final report is due on the President’s desk, but the public meetings have been a great view into the current status of NASA and where the committee’s thoughts are pointing. Here is my attempt to act …


25 July 2009

Public Engagement in Space: The Power of Story

In my post yesterday about the future of NASA, I paraphrased a philosophy for public engagement with NASA that centers around telling a story. Today I scanned in the packet of information that first introduced me to this idea. You can download it here. The packet is a report put together by Bob Rogers for a NASA group planning a Mars Sample Return mission, back in 1998. Bob Rogers is …


24 July 2009

The Future of NASA

Earlier this week I mentioned that there is an ongoing evaluation of the future of human spaceflight at NASA. The so-called “Augustine commission” has been tasked to: “conduct an independent review of ongoing U.S. human space flight plans and programs, as well as alternatives, to ensure the Nation is pursuing the best trajectory for the future of human space flight – one that is safe, innovative, affordable, and sustainable. The …


20 July 2009

NASA Then and Now

Forty years ago today, the world watched as Apollo 11 landed on the surface of the moon. All day today, I have been reading accounts from people who witnessed the landing. They have almost unanimously expressed the awe and wonder of seeing human being set foot upon the surface of another world. But another common thread is that of disappointment. The Apollo program achieved great things in its time, but …