Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NASA, Internet Archive And Flickr Launch Historic Image Collection

NASA's history
WASHINGTON -- Three compilations of images from more than half a century of NASA history are available for comment on a section of the photo-sharing site Flickr known as The Commons.

Visitors to NASA on The Commons can help tell the photos' story by adding tags, or keywords, to the images to identify objects and people. In addition, viewers can communicate with other visitors by sharing comments. These contributions will help make the images easier to find online and add insight about NASA's history.

The capability to interact with these already-public photos is the result of a partnership between NASA, Flickr from Yahoo! in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library based in San Francisco.

Three sets of photos share a common theme of NASA beginnings. The "Launch and Takeoff" set captures iconic spacecraft and aircraft taking flight. "Building NASA" spotlights ground-breaking events and the construction of some of NASA's one-of-a-kind facilities. The "Center Namesakes" set features photos of the founders and figureheads of NASA's 10 field centers. To view NASA on The Commons images, visit:


"NASA's long-standing partnership with Internet Archive and this new one with Yahoo!'s Flickr provides an opportunity for the public to participate in the process of discovery," said Debbie Rivera, lead for the NASA Images project at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "In addition, the public can help the agency capture historical knowledge about missions and programs through this new resource and make it available for future generations."

The Commons was launched with the Library of Congress to increase access to publicly-held photography collections and provide a way for the public to contribute information and knowledge.

"NASA on The Commons is bringing literally out-of-these-world images to Flickr," said Douglas Alexander, general manager of Flickr. "We are thrilled to be working with NASA to offer such a rich archive and provide amazing insight into this country's space program and its early beginnings."

As the project leader, the New Media Innovation Team at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., enlisted the help of NASA photography and history experts to compile the three image sets for The Commons. The group will continue to create and release new photo sets that highlight different elements, themes or achievements.

Through a competitive process, NASA selected the Internet Archive in 2007 to organize a comprehensive online compilation of the agency's vast collection of photographs, historic film and video on the NASA Images website. Launched in 2008, NASAimages.org provides hundreds of thousands of images and thousands of hours of video, HD video and audio content available free to the public for download.

"Sharing important assets like NASA photography is the core mission of the Internet Archive. Through this partnership with NASA and Flickr, NASA on The Commons is bringing these images to a vast audience and providing an opportunity for the public to give fresh insight and increase our shared knowledge of NASA in all its varied activities," said Jon Hornstein, director of the NASA Images Project at the Internet Archive in San Francisco.

Monday, August 30, 2010

NASA Receives Spirit Of Houston Award

Houston Award
HOUSTON -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden accepted the Spirit of Houston Award from the city's Mayor Annise Parker on Thursday. The award was established in 2004 to honor Houstonians who motivated their fellow citizens with their everyday acts of leadership.

"It is an honor to accept the 2010 Spirit of Houston Award on behalf of all of the men and women of NASA," Bolden said. "Every one of us is absolutely committed to a vibrant future for exploration and improving life on Earth."

Parker recommended the NASA workforce receive the city's annual award for the iconic contributions they have made throughout the agency's history. It was presented at Houston's 174th Birthday Celebration at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

The theme for this year's birthday event was "Houston, We Have the Moon and the Stars!" Former astronaut Bernard A. Harris Jr. was inducted into the 2010 Houston Hall of Fame at the event.

Earlier Thursday, Parker proclaimed Aug. 26, 2010, as "The NASA Family Spirit of Houston Day." The proclamation stated the "dedicated workforce reaches beyond the boundaries of the Johnson Space Center campus and makes Houston a better community at large."

For more than 50 years, NASA and its workforce have powered Houston and the nation into the 21st century through accomplishments that are enduring milestones of human achievement. Among those accomplishments are technological innovations and scientific discoveries that have improved lives on Earth.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

NASA Awards Facility Operating Services Contract Award Term Period 1

NASA Awards
WASHINGTON -- NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., has exercised award term period 1 of the Facility Operating Services Contract (FOSC) with Jacobs Technology, Inc. of Tullahoma, Tenn. The FOSC provides a broad range of services to support NASA missions and more than 30 resident agencies sharing and using Stennis facilities and services.

The cost-plus-incentive fee award term 1 is valued at $55.5 million. This is the first of seven award term periods in addition to the 3-year base period.

Jacobs Technology, Inc. provides the following services: administrative; facility engineering; food; mail; fire protection; custodial; multimedia; public affairs; education; facility maintenance and operations; safety, quality and environmental; medical and occupational health; and logistics and transportation.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pulverized Planet Dust May Lie Around Double Stars

Double Stars
PASADENA, Calif. -- Tight double-star systems might not be the best places for life to spring up, according to a new study using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The infrared observatory spotted a surprisingly large amount of dust around three mature, close-orbiting star pairs. Where did the dust come from? Astronomers say it might be the aftermath of tremendous planetary collisions.

"This is real-life science fiction," said Jeremy Drake of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass. "Our data tell us that planets in these systems might not be so lucky -- collisions could be common. It's theoretically possible that habitable planets could exist around these types of stars, so if there happened to be any life there, it could be doomed."

Drake is the principal investigator of the research, published in the Aug.19 issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The particular class of binary, or double, stars in the study are about as snug as stars get. Named RS Canum Venaticorums, or RS CVns for short, they are separated by only about two million miles (3.2 million kilometers), or two percent of the distance between Earth and our sun. The stellar pairs orbit around each other every few days, with one face on each star perpetually locked and pointed toward the other.

The close-knit stars are similar to the sun in size and are probably about a billion to a few billion years old -- roughly the age of our sun when life first evolved on Earth. But these stars spin much faster, and, as a result, have powerful magnetic fields, and giant, dark spots. The magnetic activity drives strong stellar winds -- gale-force versions of the solar wind -- that slow the stars down, pulling the twirling duos closer over time. And this is where the planetary chaos may begin.

As the stars cozy up to each other, their gravitational influences change, and this could cause disturbances to planetary bodies orbiting around both stars. Comets and any planets that may exist in the systems would start jostling about and banging into each other, sometimes in powerful collisions. This includes planets that could theoretically be circling in the double stars' habitable zone, a region where temperatures would allow liquid water to exist. Though no habitable planets have been discovered around any stars beyond our sun at this point in time, tight double-star systems are known to host planets; for example, one system not in the study, called HW Vir, has two gas-giant planets.

"These kinds of systems paint a picture of the late stages in the lives of planetary systems," said Marc Kuchner, a co-author from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "And it's a future that's messy and violent."

Spitzer spotted the infrared glow of hot dusty disks, about the temperature of molten lava, around three such tight binary systems. One of the systems was originally flagged as having a suspicious excess of infrared light in 1983 by the Infrared Astronomical Satellite. In addition, researchers using Spitzer recently found a warm disk of debris around another star that turned out to be a tight binary system.

The astronomy team says that dust normally would have dissipated and blown away from the stars by this mature stage in their lives. They conclude that something -- most likely planetary collisions -- must therefore be kicking up the fresh dust. In addition, because dusty disks have now been found around four, older binary systems, the scientists know that the observations are not a fluke. Something chaotic is very likely going on.

If any life forms did exist in these star systems, and they could look up at the sky, they would have quite a view. Marco Matranga, first author of the paper, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and now a visiting astronomer at the Palermo Astronomical Observatory in Sicily, said, "The skies there would have two huge suns, like the ones above the planet Tatooine in 'Star Wars.'"

Other authors include V.L. Kashyap of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; and Massimo Marengo of Iowa State University, Ames.

The Spitzer observations were made before it ran out of its liquid coolant in May 2009, officially beginning its warm mission.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Avatar" Director And NASA Focus On Earth Science Exploration In Psa Campaign

Earth Science Exploration
WASHINGTON -- James Cameron, director of "Avatar," the most successful film ever released, is featured in a series of new NASA public service announcements that describe the many contributions of the agency's Earth science program to environmental awareness and exploration of our home planet.

"When NASA ventures into space, it remembers to keep a steady eye on home," Cameron said. "Its fleet of Earth-orbiting satellites constantly reveals our whole planet: its remotest places, its mysteries and the powerful influence of humans."

Cameron's 3-D epic, based on the fictional planet of Pandora and is coming back to theaters this week. The story centers on a beautiful planet threatened by forces that want to exploit its natural resources.

The public service announcements feature "Avatar" film imagery and include computer animations and data from NASA's fleet of Earth-observing satellites. NASA has 14 science satellites in orbit making cutting-edge global observations of the entire global system including the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, snow and ice.

NASA Television will broadcast the announcements beginning Tuesday and they are available to television and radio stations, and other interested media outlets.

Monday, August 23, 2010

NASA To Announce Latest Findings By Kepler Spacecraft

 Kepler Spacecraft
WASHINGTON -- NASA will hold a media teleconference Thursday, Aug. 26, at 1 p.m. EDT to discuss the Kepler spacecraft's latest discovery about an intriguing planetary system.

Kepler, a space observatory, looks for the data signatures of planets by measuring tiny decreases in the brightness of stars when planets cross in front of, or transit, them. In June, mission scientists announced the mission has identified more than 700 planet candidates, including five candidate systems that appear to have more than one transiting planet.

Participating telecon panelists are:
-- Jon Morse, director, Science Mission Directorate Astrophysics Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington
-- William Borucki, Kepler Mission science principal investigator, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
-- Matthew Holman, associate director, Theoretical Astrophysics Division, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass.
-- Alycia Weinberger, astronomer, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington

To participate in the teleconference, reporters should e-mail J.D. Harrington at j.d.harrington@nasa.gov by 11 a.m. EDT, Thursday, Aug. 26. Journalists must include their name, media affiliation and telephone number. Supporting information for the briefing will be posted at: http://www.nasa.gov/kepler when the telecon begins.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Team to Investigate Launch Failure

Alliant Techsystems
An Alliant Techsystems suborbital rocket carrying two NASA hypersonic experiments was destroyed shortly after liftoff from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Friday, Aug. 22. No injuries or property damage were immediately reported.

The exact launch time was 5:10 a.m. EDT. The anomaly that caused the failure occurred approximately 27 seconds into flight and is not known.

Most debris from the rocket is thought to have fallen in the Atlantic Ocean. However, there are conflicting reports of debris being sighted on land. This debris could be hazardous. People who think they may have encountered rocket debris are advised not to touch it and to report it to the Wallops Emergency Operations Center at 757-824-1300.

NASA is very disappointed in this failure but has directed its focus on protecting public safety and conducting a comprehensive investigation to identify the root cause. NASA is assembling a multidiscipline team, along with the rocket's maker Alliant Techsystems, or ATK, of Minneapolis, to begin the investigation promptly.

Friday, August 20, 2010

NASA Asks Public for Final Shuttle Missions' Wakeup Songs

Wakeup Songs
HOUSTON -- If you like music, the space program and are a little nostalgic, NASA has the perfect opportunity for you. For the first time, the public can help choose songs to wake up the astronauts during the last two scheduled space shuttle missions.

Traditionally, the songs played to wake up the astronauts are selected by friends and family of the crews. For the last two scheduled missions, NASA is inviting the public to visit the "Wakeup Song Contest" website to select songs from a list of the top 40 previous wakeup calls or to submit original tunes for consideration. To vote or submit a song, visit:

The two songs with the most votes from the top 40 list will be played as crew wakeup calls on the final scheduled flight of space shuttle Discovery. Discovery's STS-133 mission is targeted to launch on Nov. 1.

"We're looking forward to hearing which songs the public wants played for us," STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey said. "It's going to be a difficult choice, because there have been so many great songs played over the years."

Original songs must have a space theme and be submitted to NASA by 4 p.m. CST on Jan. 10, 2011. The songs will be reviewed by agency officials and the top finalists put to a public vote. The top two songs will be used to wake space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 crew.
Endeavour's mission is the last scheduled space shuttle flight. It is targeted to launch on Feb. 26, 2011.

"Space shuttle crews really enjoy the morning wake-up music," STS-134 Commander Mark Kelly said. "While we don't have the best quality speaker in the space shuttle, it will be interesting to hear what the public comes up with. We are looking forward to it."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Drought Drives Decade-Long Decline in Plant Growth

Drought Drives Decade
WASHINGTON -- Global plant productivity that once was on the rise with warming temperatures and a lengthened growing season is now on the decline because of regional drought according to a new study of NASA satellite data.

Plant productivity is a measure of the rate of the photosynthesis process that green plants use to convert solar energy, carbon dioxide and water to sugar, oxygen and eventually plant tissue. Compared with a 6 percent increase in plant productivity during the 1980s and 1990s, the decline observed over the last decade is only 1 percent. The shift, however, could impact food security, biofuels and the global carbon cycle.

Researchers Maosheng Zhao and Steven Running of the University of Montana in Missoula discovered the global shift from an analysis of NASA satellite data. The discovery comes from an analysis of plant productivity data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA's Terra satellite, combined with other growing season climate data, including temperature, solar radiation and water.

"We see this as a bit of a surprise, and potentially significant on a policy level because previous interpretations suggested global warming might actually help plant growth around the world," Running said.

Previous research found land plant productivity was on the rise. A 2003 paper in the journal Science led by scientist Ramakrishna Nemani, now a researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., showed the 6 percent increase in global terrestrial plant productivity between 1982 and 1999. The increase was traced to nearly two decades of temperature, solar radiation and water availability conditions, influenced by climate change, that were favorable for plant growth.

Setting out to update that analysis, Zhao and Running expected to see similar results as global average temperatures continued to climb. Instead, they found the negative impact of regional drought overwhelmed the positive influence of a longer growing season, driving down global plant productivity between 2000 and 2009. The team published its findings Thursday in Science.

"This is a pretty serious warning that warmer temperatures are not going to endlessly improve plant growth," Running said.

Zhao and Running's analysis showed that since 2000, high-latitude Northern Hemisphere ecosystems have continued to benefit from warmer temperatures and a longer growing season. But that effect was offset by warming-associated drought that limited growth in the Southern Hemisphere, resulting in a net global loss of land productivity.

"This past decade’s net decline in terrestrial productivity illustrates that a complex interplay between temperature, rainfall, cloudiness, and carbon dioxide, probably in combination with other factors such as nutrients and land management, will determine future patterns and trends in productivity," said Diane Wickland, program manager of the Terrestrial Ecology research program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Researchers want to continue monitoring these trends in the future because plant productivity is linked to shifting levels of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and stresses on plant growth that could challenge food production.

"Even if the declining trend of the past decade does not continue, managing forests and crop lands for multiple benefits to include food production, biofuel harvest, and carbon storage may become exceedingly challenging in light of the possible impacts of such decadal-scale changes," Wickland said.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

GRIP 'Shakedown' Flight Planned over Gulf Coast

NASA Research Center
The first flight of NASA's hurricane airborne research mission is scheduled to take off from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 17. NASA's DC-8 research aircraft will be making a planned five-hour flight along the Gulf Coast from western Florida to Louisiana primarily as a practice run for the many scientific instruments aboard.

Mission scientists, instrument teams, flight crew and support personnel gathered in Fort Lauderdale this weekend to begin planning the six-week Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes mission, or GRIP. NASA's DC-8, the largest of NASA's three aircraft taking part in the mission, is based at the Fort Lauderdale airport. The two other aircraft -- the WB-57 based in Houston and the autonomous Global Hawk flying out of southern California -- will join the campaign in about a week.

The target for Tuesday's "shakedown" flight is the remnants of Tropical Depression 5, a poorly organized storm system whose center is currently hugging the coasts of Mississippi and Louisiana and moving westward. While forecasters do not expect this storm system to strengthen significantly before it reaches landfall in Louisiana, the system offers the DC-8's seven instrument teams an opportunity to try out their equipment on possible convective storms. Rainfall rates, wind speed and direction below the airplane to the surface, cloud droplet sizes, and aerosol particle sizes are just some of the information that these instruments will collect.

GRIP science team members and project managers are now meeting daily at the airport to review weather forecasts and plan upcoming flights with their counterparts in two other airborne hurricane research missions sponsored by the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation. Instrument teams are also working on their equipment onboard the DC-8 in preparation for the flight.

On Sunday, Aug. 15, NASA's Global Hawk completed a successful test flight over NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., that took the remotely piloted plane to an altitude of 60,000 feet. The last of three instruments being mounted on the Global Hawk for GRIP is being installed this week.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Space Coast Task Force Delivers Economic Strategies Report

Space Coast Task
WASHINGTON -- The President's Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development, co-chaired by NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, today released its report to President Barack Obama with recommendations to enhance economic development strategies along Florida's Space Coast.

The task force was charged with developing a plan for how best to invest $40 million in transition assistance from the federal government in the Space Coast region as the space shuttle program winds down.

Bolden, Locke, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and several other senior administration officials visited the region several times since the creation of the task force to meet with area workers and experts.

"Over the past few months, we have worked diligently with local government officials, economic development agencies and affected corporations and employees to develop a comprehensive plan that will create high-skill, high-wage jobs and a strong economic base in the Space Coast," Locke said. "Space is a key driver of the 21st century American economy, and that's why the president believes so strongly in empowering NASA to pursue new avenues of discovery."

After review of the Space Coast's economic assets, employment needs, and development priorities, as well as suggestions submitted through a public website, the task force developed four key recommendations for the president:

1. To sustain regional investments already underway including:
-- Retraining resources for displaced workers
--The Space Shuttle Transition Liaison Office
-- Recovery Act funding for the region, and other government programs

2. To spur immediate opportunity by:
-- Launching a new Commercial Spaceflight Technical Center
-- Investing $600,000 of the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Small Business Administration FY 2010 budget to support small businesses and industry clusters
-- Holding a federal government job fair for the highly skilled displaced workers
-- Facilitating a technology export exposition hosted by the Department of Commerce to increase access to international markets for small- and medium-sized businesses

3. To invest in smart economic growth initiatives through a new competitive fund by:
-- Establishing a fast-track competitive grant process through the EDA

4. To build lasting infrastructure for success by:
-- Engaging a public-private partnership between the federal government, venture capitalists, and corporations to catalyze new, long-term business creation along the Space Coast

The majority of the $40 million investment will be dedicated to a fast-track competitive grant process through Commerce's EDA. Thirty-five million dollars in grants will be awarded to the most promising job creation and economic development programs, with competition announced Sept. 1. The additional $5 million will fund a new Commercial Spaceflight Technical Center to support commercial space launch and reentry activities.

"For decades, the dedicated members of the Space Coast workforce have used their wide-ranging talents to safely create, launch, and maintain some of the world's most complex aerospace and technical systems," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "As we transition to a new era in our national space policy, President Obama has made it a top priority to foster innovation and create job opportunities for those who helped make America the leader in international space exploration. The investments we're making with these Task Force recommendations are investments in our nation's most important asset, our skilled workforce."

In addition to funding set aside in President Obama's 2011 budget for the Space Coast, another $60 million was set aside for other areas across the country that will be impacted by changes to the nation's space policy, including $45 million for economic development through EDA and another $15 million for job training activities through the Department of Labor.

Earlier this year, President Obama announced a new, ambitious space initiative that includes a budget increase of $6 billion over five years to support a bold new path of innovation and discovery that will create thousands of jobs at Kennedy Space Center, on the Space Coast, and nationwide.

And in May, he established the Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development to lead the initiative to coordinate and implement a plan to grow the region's economy and prepare its workers for the opportunities of tomorrow as the shuttle program comes to a close. The $40 million, multi-agency initiative builds on and complements ongoing local and federal economic and workforce development efforts.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Move Over Caravaggio: Cassini's Light and Dark Moons

Cassini's Light and Dark Moons
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has returned Saturnian moon images from its flyby late last week, revealing light and dark contrasts worthy of chiaroscuro painters like Caravaggio.

The flyby on August 13 targeted the geyser moon Enceladus, but also brought Cassini close to two other moons--Tethys and Dione.

The raw images include the best ones to date of Penelope crater on the icy moon Tethys . Penelope crater, which is 150 kilometers (90 miles) wide, is the second-largest crater on Tethys.
Cassini was also able to obtain a portrait of Enceladus over the bright arc of Saturn's atmosphere and a moody still life of one of the "tiger stripe" fissures at the Enceladus south polar region on the cusp of darkness . This particular "tiger stripe" -- which is the nickname for the fissures spewing water vapor and organic particles out into space - is called Damascus Sulcus. It was also the subject of a heat scan by Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer. Scientists are still analyzing the results.

Images of Dione highlight the moon's battered surface .

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

NASA Announces Commercial Crew Initiative Forum


WASHINGTON -- NASA is hosting a forum to present an overview of common themes captured from industry responses to NASA's Commercial Crew Initiative Request For Information (RFI). The forum is scheduled for 9 to 11:30 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 19 at NASA Headquarters, 300 E St. SW, Washington.

The RFI, issued on May 21, collected information from industry to help NASA plan the overall strategy for the development and demonstration of a commercial crew transport capability and to receive comments on NASA human-rating technical requirements.

The Aug. 19 forum will include discussion about how NASA is addressing the common themes in the responses and presentations on the availability of agency facilities and the availability of service arrangements for commercial providers. NASA managers also will participate in a question-and-answer session.

Media interested in attending the conference must register by 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Aug. 18 with Michael Braukus at: michael.j.braukus@nasa.gov

Thursday, August 12, 2010

NASA Plans Next Space Station Repair Spacewalk For Monday

Spacewalk For Monday
HOUSTON -- The third spacewalk to restore full cooling capability to the International Space Station is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 16.

Expedition 24 Flight Engineers Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson will venture outside to install a replacement pump and connect its electrical and fluid lines. The two NASA astronauts conducted the first two spacewalks to remove the failed ammonia pump from the station's truss, or backbone.

The pump removed during Wednesday's spacewalk failed on July 31, causing a loss of half of the station's cooling system. Since then, the station has been operating normally while a second ammonia pump provides cooling for electronics.

NASA Television coverage will begin Monday at 5 a.m. CDT. Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson are scheduled to begin the spacewalk just before 6 a.m. Monday's spacewalk will be the sixth for Wheelock and the third for Caldwell Dyson.

Approximately two hours after the conclusion of the spacewalk, NASA TV will broadcast a briefing from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The briefing participants will be Kirk Shireman, International Space Station deputy program manager; Courtenay McMillan, Expedition 24 spacewalk flight director; and David Beaver, Expedition 24 spacewalk officer.

Reporters may ask questions from participating NASA locations, and should contact their preferred NASA center to confirm participation. Johnson's newsroom will be open for credentialed reporters to attend the briefing. Johnson also will operate a telephone bridge for reporters with valid media credentials issued by a NASA center.

Journalists planning to use the service must contact the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 15 minutes prior to the start of the briefing. Phone bridge capacity is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

NASA and Israel Space Agency Sign Statement of Intent for Future Cooperation

NASA and Israel Space Agency
WASHINGTON --During a meeting Tuesday at NASA Headquarters in Washington, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Israel Space Agency Director General Zvi Kaplan signed a joint statement of intent to expand the agencies' cooperation in civil space activities.

The signing followed a meeting between Bolden, Kaplan and Professor Daniel Hershkowitz, Israel's minister of Science and Technology. It advanced discussions that began when Bolden visited Israel in January.

The agencies agreed to identify new joint activities related to Earth and space science, life sciences, space exploration and other areas of mutual interest. The goal is to expand scientific exchanges and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

NASA and ISA identified the following potential opportunities for bilateral cooperation: space geodesy, the measurement from space of Earth's gravitational field, tides, and the movement of its poles and crust; hydrological observations and joint research; an expansion of Israel's participation in the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) education program; planetary science through ISA's affiliate membership in the NASA Lunar Science Institute; launch and range safety; remote sensing data cooperation; and use of the International Space Station for Israeli research and educational experiments.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

NASA Langley Selects Maryland Company For Information Tech Support

Langley Research Center
HAMPTON, Va. -- NASA has selected Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies of Greenbelt, Md., to provide the agency's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., with computing support services for complex information technology (IT) systems and applications.

The five-year maximum value of the Langley Research Center Information Technology Enhanced Services (LITES) task order contract is $183 million.

The systems supported include unique and high-end systems used by mission and mission-support staff at Langley. LITES provides a wide range of support functions including those for non-standard operating systems, for system interfaces, or for use within a dynamic environment such as a research laboratory or test facility.

LITES provides integrated support that encompasses all activities necessary to develop, deploy, upgrade, operate and maintain a system that delivers an IT capability for research and development use and for business systems and applications. The contract provides support through Langley's Office of the Chief Information Officer in the areas of science and engineering applications; project management applications; business management applications; and center infrastructure applications and data center support not provided as part of NASA’s Information Technology Infrastructure Improvement Program.

NASA Selects Contractor For Wallops Island Protection Project

 Wallops Island Protection Project
WASHINGTON -- NASA has selected the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) in Norfolk, Va., for the Launch Facilities Protection Project at the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va. The total contract value is not to exceed $49.5 million. The period of performance is five years.

The USACE provides an array of services that will allow NASA to complete the Launch Facilities Protection Project. The project is scheduled to begin in fall 2010. The USACE will extend a seawall approximately 1,300 feet to the south of an existing seawall located on Wallops Island, and place approximately 3.2 million cubic yards of dredged sand along the Wallops Island shoreline.

This effort provides direct customer support to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility’s through personnel, equipment, tools, materials, vehicles, specialized test equipment, supervision, and other services.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

NASA Announces Next Opportunity for Cubesat Space Missions

NASA Space News
WASHINGTON -- NASA has announced a second opportunity for small satellite payloads to fly on rockets planned to launch in 2011 and 2012. These CubeSats could be auxiliary cargo on previously planned missions.

CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites are approximately four inches long, have a volume of about one quart and weigh less than 2.2 pounds.

CubeSat investigations should be consistent with NASA's Strategic Plan or the Education Strategic Coordination Framework. The research should address aspects of science, exploration, technology development, education or operations.

Applicants must submit proposals electronically by 4:30 p.m. EST, Nov. 15. NASA will select the payloads by Jan. 31, 2011, but selection does not guarantee a launch opportunity. Collaborators may be required to provide partial reimbursement of approximately $30,000 per CubeSat. NASA will not provide funding for the development of the small satellites.

NASA recently announced the results from the first round of the CubeSat Launch Initiative. Twelve payloads have made the short-list for launch opportunities in 2011 and 2012. They are eligible for launch pending an appropriate opportunity and final negotiations. The satellites come from 10 states: Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Utah and Vermont.

Friday, August 6, 2010

NASA - Spacewalks Delayed to Saturday and Wednesday


NASA International Space Station managers have delayed two spacewalks to replace a faulty cooling system component to Saturday and Wednesday.

Saturday’s spacewalk now is officially scheduled to begin at 6:55 a.m. EDT, and will be followed by a second spacewalk Wednesday to complete replacement of the ammonia pump module that failed last Saturday.

Teams of flight controllers, engineers, and spacewalk and robotics experts have made significant progress in preparing for the spacewalk, but need an additional day to finish working out all the details.

The additional time to prepare for the first spacewalk allows for the final procedures to be uplinked late today and gives the station crew one full day to review the plans that have been developed by Mission Control. Managers also moved the second spacewalk to Wednesday to give the crew additional time to rest and prepare.

During the first spacewalk the pump module will be removed and replaced. The crew will complete connecting fluid ammonia lines to the replacement pump during the second excursion Wednesday.

The spacewalks are challenging because the crew will be handling ammonia lines at full operating pressure, which makes the lines stiff during reconnection and mating. The timeline for the spacewalk will require numerous “off ramps” to ensure there is enough time to complete decontamination procedures if the crew comes in contact with ammonia.

NASA managers have stored spare pumps on the station for just this purpose, because hardware will periodically need to be replaced throughout the station’s lifetime. There are four replacement pumps on the station, delivered during previous space shuttle missions. These spares are attached to storage platforms at various locations on the station’s structure. Both the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s H-II Transfer Vehicle and future commercial resupply craft will be able to deliver additional spare parts as needed.

Aboard the station, Wheelock, Caldwell Dyson and Flight Engineer Shannon Walker participated in conferences with Mission Control to review spacewalk procedures.

On Wednesday, fellow astronauts Robert Satcher Jr. and Rick Sturckow were underwater, practicing the spacewalking tasks in the Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL). Astronauts Cady Coleman and Suni Williams spent Monday afternoon in the NBL helping to prepare for the spacewalks as well.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

NASA Moves Space Station Repair Spacewalk To Friday, Sets Briefings

NASA Space Station
HOUSTON -- The first of two spacewalks by NASA astronauts to replace a failed ammonia pump on the International Space Station has been delayed by 24 hours to Friday, Aug. 6. A second spacewalk is planned for Monday, Aug. 9, to complete the repairs.

Flight controllers and station managers made the decision Monday night after reviewing proposed timelines, final procedures for the repair work, and the results from a spacewalk dress rehearsal conducted in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Expedition 24 Flight Engineers Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson are scheduled to perform the spacewalks. The two NASA astronauts will replace an ammonia coolant pump that failed July 31.

NASA Television coverage of both spacewalks will begin at 5 a.m. CDT. Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson are expected to begin the spacewalks from the Quest airlock at 5:55 a.m. Friday's spacewalk will be the fourth for Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson's first.

Approximately two hours after the conclusion of each spacewalk, NASA TV will broadcast a briefing from Johnson. The briefing participants will be Mike Suffredini, International Space Station program manager; Courtenay McMillan, Expedition 24 spacewalk flight director; and David Beaver, Expedition 24 spacewalk officer.

Reporters may ask questions from participating NASA locations, and should contact their preferred NASA center to confirm participation. Johnson will operate a telephone bridge for reporters with valid media credentials issued by a NASA center. Journalists planning to use the service must contact the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 15 minutes prior to the start of a briefing. Phone bridge capacity is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Engineers and flight controllers continue to review data on the failure, which resulted in the loss of one of two cooling loops aboard the station. This caused a significant power down and required adjustments to provide the maximum redundancy possible for station systems. The systems are stable, and the six crew members aboard are not in any danger.

Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson originally were scheduled to perform a spacewalk to outfit the Russian Zarya module for future robotics work and prepare the station for the installation of a new U.S. permanent multipurpose module. However, because of the importance of restoring redundancy to the station's cooling and power systems, the two new spacewalks will be dedicated to the pump module replacement.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

NASA Invites Media To View Space Station Cargo For STS-133 Mission


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will host a media event at 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Aug. 12, to highlight the next hardware that will fly to the International Space Station. The permanent multi-purpose module, or PMM, will fly aboard space shuttle Discovery on its STS-133 mission, targeted to launch on Nov. 1.

During the event, reporters at Kennedy's Space Station Processing Facility will have the opportunity to speak with mission managers and team members involved in processing the elements for flight. Media planning to attend must arrive at Kennedy's news center by 12 p.m. for transportation to the event. Participants must be dressed in full-length pants, flat shoes that entirely cover the feet and shirts with sleeves.
Reporters without permanent Kennedy credentials should submit their requests online at:


Foreign journalists must apply for credentials by 4:30 p.m., Aug. 4, and U.S. reporters must apply by noon on Aug. 11.

The module will carry a variety of spare parts and supplies to the station as well as Robonaut 2, or R2. The module will be left on the station and will be used for microgravity experiments in fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology. R2, a humanoid robot created through a joint project between NASA and General Motors, was originally intended to be an Earth-bound prototype. But engineers wanted to see how it fared in microgravity, so the robot is being sent to space in Discovery's cargo bay.

Monday, August 2, 2010

NASA Sets Briefing To Preview Updated Space Station Spacewalk Plan


HOUSTON -- NASA managers will discuss updated plans for two International Space Station spacewalks during a news briefing at 3 p.m. CDT on Monday, Aug. 2. The briefing replaces one originally scheduled for Tuesday.

The news conference from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Journalists may ask questions from participating NASA locations.

The briefers are:
- Michael Suffredini, manager, International Space Station Program
- Courtenay McMillan, Expedition 24 spacewalk flight director

Expedition 24 Flight Engineers Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson are scheduled to perform two spacewalks. The two NASA astronauts will replace an ammonia coolant pump that failed July 31.

Engineers and flight controllers continue to review data on the failure, which resulted in the loss of one of two cooling loops aboard the station. This caused a significant power down and required adjustments to provide the maximum redundancy possible for station systems. The systems are stable, and the six crew members aboard are not in any danger.

Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson originally were scheduled to perform a spacewalk to outfit the Russian Zarya module for future robotics work and prepare the station for the installation of a new U.S. permanent multipurpose module. However, because of the importance of restoring redundancy to the station's cooling and power systems, Thursday's spacewalk will be dedicated to the pump module replacement. Another spacewalk will be scheduled a few days later to complete the repairs.

NASA TV coverage of the 15th U.S. spacewalk from the station will begin at 5 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 5. Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson are expected to begin the spacewalk from the Quest airlock at 5:55 a.m. It will be Wheelock's fourth spacewalk and Caldwell Dyson's first.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

NASA's First Robotic Crew Member To Tweet From Space Station, Available For Interviews

Reporters are invited to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston at 1 p.m. CDT on Aug. 4 to see demonstrations of R2 in action. They can speak with members of the STS-133 space shuttle crew, who will deliver the robot to the station, and engineers who created R2. Interested news media representatives should e-mail Brandi Dean at brandi.k.dean@nasa.gov by noon on Aug. 3.

The public will get the first chance to interview the robot when R2 and its team answer questions submitted via Twitter at 10 a.m. on Aug. 4. Twitter followers can submit their questions to R2 in real time by including the hashtag #4R2 in their questions tweeted to @AstroRobonaut.

R2 will be shipped next month from Johnson, where it was created, to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final testing and packing. It will launch aboard space shuttle Discovery as part of the STS-133 mission, targeted to lift off in November.

Robonaut 2 was created through a joint project between NASA and General Motors that began in 2007. R2 originally was intended to be an Earth-bound prototype, but engineers wanted to see how it fared in microgravity so the robot is being sent to space in Discovery's cargo bay.

R2 is already the most advanced dexterous humanoid robot in existence. Once in space, it will become the first humanoid robot to reach orbit and the first American-built robot at the space station. Over time, as its creators learn more about operating R2 in space, upgrades and modifications could be made that would allow the robot to assist astronauts inside and outside of the station with routine tasks or those too dangerous for humans.