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Station Spacewalk Successful, But Probably Two More Needed

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 12-Aug-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:17 PM)

Two spacewalking astronauts successfully disconnected and removed a failed ammonia coolant pump today on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS). Another spacewalk, no earlier than Monday, is needed to install the replacement pump and a fourth outing may be needed to clean up the worksite according to NASA.

Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson spent 7 hours and 26 minutes on the spacewalk according to, after a record breaking 8 hours 3 minutes on Wednesday. ISS managers are anxious to get the new pump working and the ISS back to normal operations. NASA emphasized that no science samples were lost because of the problems with the ISS cooling system, but some science samples had to moved from a freezer in Japan's Kibo module to an operating freezer elsewhere.

Senate to Reconvene Briefly Tomorrow

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 12-Aug-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:17 PM)

It's anything but a usual summer break for Congress. First the House returned for one day of legislative activity on Tuesday, and now the Senate will return briefly on Thursday.

The Senate will recovene to pass an emergency supplemental appropriations bill for border security (H.R. 6080) that was passed by the House when it was in session on Tuesday. The bill is expected to pass the Senate by unanimous consent and is the only legislative business for the day although the Senate is also expected to pass a resolution of condolence on the death of former Senator Ted Stevens. Thus, all Senators do not need to be present and only two are expected to attend -- Democrats Charles Schumer of New York and Ben Cardin of Maryland -- according to The Hill newspaper.

Those Who Survived, Those Who Did Not

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 11-Aug-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:17 PM)

Former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, his son, and two others survived the crash of a privately owned airplane in Alaska, but former Senator Ted Stevens and four others did not. Mr. O'Keefe reportedly was "badly injured."

The New York Times has identified those who were aboard the aircraft. The survivors are Mr. O'Keefe, 54, and his teenage son, Kevin; Jim Morhard of Alexandria, VA; and William "Willy" Phillips, 13. The deceased are former Senator Stevens, 86; William "Bill" Phillips Sr.; Dana Tindall, 48, and Corey Tindall, 16, of Anchorage; and the pilot, Theron "Terry" Smith, 62, of Eagle River, Alaska.

The group was headed to a lodge near Lake Aleknegik for a fishing expedition. The plane, a DeHavilland DHC-3T, and the lodge are owned by GCI, the Alaskan telecommunications provider, according to news reports. The cause of the crash is under investigation, but the Times cites an Alaskan bush pilot who says the GCI pilot apparently was lost in cloud cover and was trying to increase his altitude when the crash occurred.

Senator Stevens survived an earlier airplane crash in 1978 that claimed the life of his first wife, Ann. In that case, he was one of two survivors of seven aboard an aircraft that crashed at the Anchorage airport according to news reports.

Second Spacewalk to Fix ISS Coolant Pump Underway

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 11-Aug-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:16 PM)

International Space Station (SS) astronauts Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson are currently outside the ISS in a second attempt to replace an ISS coolant pump that failed. Their first attempt on Saturday ran into a roadblock when a quick disconnect fitting did not work properly, but NASA reports on its ISS website that they have successfully closed that fitting today. They now are disconnecting electrical wires and unbolting the failed pump. Follow the action live on NASA TV.

UPDATE: Sean O'Keefe, Ted Stevens, Reported to Be On Downed Plane in Alaska

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 10-Aug-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:18 PM)

UOPDATE: The New York Times reports that Mr. OKeefe and his son survived, and Mr. O'Keefe was one of three persons airlifted to a hospital in Anchorage.

UPDATE: The Associated Press cites Shannon O'Keefe as confirming that her brother and his son were on the plane but "their status was not immediately known."

UPDATE: NASAWatch now identifies the son as Kevin rather than Jonathan.

UPDATE: Keith Cowing at NASAWatch reports that Mr. O'Keefe and his son Jonathan both survived but are "rather banged up/"

UPDATE: AP now is also reporting that Senator Stevens died, but similarly had no word on Mr. O'Keefe.

UPDATE: Anchorage Alaska's CBS affiliate KTVA reports that it has confirmed that Senator Stevens was killed. No word on Mr. O'Keefe.

UPDATE: No news yet on who survived, but here are links to statements from the NTSB, Louisiana State University (where Mr. OKeefe was chancellor), and EADS North America (where he is CEO).

UPDATE: At the NASA NEO workshop, a NASA spokesman just announced that one of Sean O'Keefe's sons also was on the plane. Still no word on who survived.

UPDATE: The Associated Press is citing a National Transportation Safety Board spokesman as saying that there were nine people on the plane and there are five fatalities and four survivors. The condition of Mr. O'Keefe and Sen. Stevens has not been reported yet.

The New York Times is reporting that former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe and former Senator Ted Stevens are believed to be among the eight passengers on a plane that crashed in southwest Alaska last night. The condition of the passengers is unknown, but the newspaper cites an Alaska National Guard spokesman as saying there may be fatalities. It also states that EADS North America, Mr. O'Keefe's current employer, confirmed that he was on the plane.

This article will be updated as more information is obtained.

O'Keefe and Son Survive Plane Crash, Ted Stevens Does Not: New York Times

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 10-Aug-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:16 PM)

Former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe and his son both survived the airplane crash in Alaska, according to the New York Times. Former Senator Ted Stevens did not. News reports say that of the nine passengers on the private plane, four survived and five did not. Mr. O'Keefe reportedly is one of three survivors airlifted to an Anchorage hospital.

Washington Post: None of the Human Space Flight Plans Is Affordable

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 09-Aug-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:18 PM)

In an editorial yesterday, the Washington Post said that "U.S. space policy is on a collision course with itself."

The part of U.S. space policy the Post is talking about is the human space flight program. It compares the Obama plan with those put forth in the House and Senate NASA authorization bills and concludes that --

"All three plans for space have in common an unwillingness either to abandon the dream of human spaceflight or to confront the budget reality. But with the funding for NASA set around $19 billion and not likely to change, bold plans for humans in space are simply not feasible. Something must give. If the administration and Congress truly want human spaceflight, they need to fund it adequately....."

UPDATED: Events of Interest: Week of August 9-13, 2010

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 09-Aug-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:18 PM)

UPDATE: The NRC briefing on Astro2010 has been added for Friday.

The following events may be of interest in the coming week. For more information, see our calendar on the right menu or click the links below.

Monday-Thursday, August 9-12

Tuesday, August 10

  • The House will return from its August recess for one day of legislative business. The major piece of legislation is unrelated to the space program (it is aid to states to avoid teacher layoffs and Medicaid funding), but it is always possible that other legislation may be brought up.

Tuesday-Wednesday, August 10-11

Thursday, August 12

Friday, August 13

  • National Research Council public briefing on release of the Astro2010 Decadal Survey for astronomy and astrophysics, NRC Keck Center, 500 Fifth St., N.W., Washington, D.C., 11:00 am EDT

NASA to Purchase Industry Lunar Tech Data, Imagery

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 09-Aug-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:15 PM)

NASA wants to buy data from industry on lunar landing technology demonstrations and imagery. The agency is issuing a "Broad Agency Announcement" (BAA) for multiple small firm fixed price contracts with a total value of up to $30.1 million through 2012.

Privately funded entities, like those participating in the Google Lunar X-Prize, could sell NASA data and information "related to landing using a human mission profile; identification of hazards during landing; precision landing; and imagery and long-duration surface operations."

Twenty-one teams are currently competing in the Google Lunar X-Prize competition, which has its own purse of $30 million for the first privately funded group to land a robot on the Moon, travel 500 meters, and return video, images and data back to Earth. One of those teams, Astrobotic, a Carnegie Mellon University spin-off company, immediately said that it would take NASA up on the challenge.

Astro2010 Decadal Survey To Be Released Friday

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 09-Aug-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:12 PM)

The National Research Council (NRC) will release the Astro2010 Decadal Survey for astronomy and astrophysics at a public briefing on Friday, August 13, at 11:00 am. Roger Blandford, a Stanford professor and chairman of the NRC study committee that wrote the report, will lead the briefing along with several other members of the committee. The report prioritizes ground- and space-based research in astronomy and astrophysics for the next decade. The briefing will be at the NRC's Keck Center, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC.

Events of Interest 

Full calendar of future events (with filters)-click here »


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