Latest News

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.

Recalcitrant Fitting Frustrates Spacewalkers

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 08-Aug-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:16 PM)

Spacewalkers Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson set a new record for the length of an International Space Station (ISS) spacewalk yesterday, but their efforts were stymied by a "quick disconnect" (QD) fitting that wouldn't cooperate. The 8 hour 3 minute spacewalk may be only the first of three, rather than two, needed to replace a failed pump that is part of the ISS cooling system.

Four ammonia coolant lines and five electrical lines need to be disconnected in order to replace the pump. The QD fittings worked properly on the other coolant lines, but on the so-called M3 line, ammonia began leaking out. Eventually Wheelock was able to secure the line and install a "spool positioning device" to maintain proper pressure in the ammonia line until NASA can determine how to proceed.

The second spacewalk is currently scheduled for Wednesday, but NASA is evaluating the situation and detemining the best path forward. Check back here or go to NASA's ISS website for updates.

UPDATE: Senate Passes FY2010 Intelligence Authorization Bill

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

UPDATE, AUGUST 10: The House did not take up this bill during its one day return according to Congress Daily (subscription required). The publication stated that House Speaker Pelosi remains dissatisfied with the provisions in the bill regarding who in Congress should be briefed on highly classified intelligence matters. Congress Daily says that this was the last best chance for the bill to be passed by the House this year, and the lack of action dooms the bill.

ORIGINAL STORY: Fiscal Year 2010 may almost be over, but the Senate yesterday passed the FY2010 Intelligence Authorization bill. Agreement on the bill has been stymied since last summer over provisions regarding who in Congress should be briefed on the most highly sensitive intelligence matters. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been adamant that all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees be briefed rather than only the chairs and ranking members (plus four other congressional leaders -- the so-called "gang of eight") as is current practice, which the White House does not want to change. Congress Daily (subscription required) reports that the Senate-passed bill reflects agreement with the White House, but that although Speaker Pelosi has not yet endorsed it, she may be pressured to bring the bill up for a vote next week when the House reconvenes to pass the state aid bill to pay for teachers and Medicaid.

Station Repair Spacewalks Rescheduled

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

NASA has delayed the two spacewalks needed to repair one of the two cooling loops on the International Space Station (ISS). They now will take place on Saturday and Wednesday instead of Friday and Monday as earlier reported. The extra time is needed for preparations on the ground and on the ISS. Both spacewalks are still expected to begin at 5:55 am Central Time (6:55 am EDT) and will be covered on NASA TV.

Events of Interest 

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


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