Browsing: NASA

Cornell professor named NASA CTO

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NASA has named Cornell University Professor Mason Peck its new chief technology officer, the agency announced this week.   As CTO, Peck will be NASA’s chief advisor and advocate for technology policy and programs, according to a news release. His office is responsible for coordinating, tracking and integrating NASA’s technology investments and communicating the impact of those investments on society. Peck, who starts his new position in January, will replace former CTO Robert Braun. Braun resigned in September and has since resumed his teaching and research positions at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Peck’s new assignment is through an “intergovernmental personnel…

Seven space companies awarded $10 million for research

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Seven companies have been selected to create new vehicles to test the use and recoverability of technology in near space, NASA announced Tuesday. Each successful vendor will receive a two-year indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, worth a combined total of $10 million. The selected companies are:  Armadillo Aerospace, Heath, Texas  Near Space Corp., Tillamook, Ore.  Masten Space Systems, Mojave, Calif.  Up Aerospace Inc., Highlands Ranch, Colo.  Virgin Galactic, Mojave, Calif.  Whittinghill Aerospace LLC, Camarillo, Calif.  XCOR, Mojave, Calif. The work is part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program at Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., which fosters the development of commercial  reusable transportation to near space, the region of…

NASA CTOs open to 'bring your own device'

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There were mixed feelings last month when the federal chief information officer proposed giving federal workers a $2,000 subsidy to buy their own laptops and smartphones. Some balked at the idea and raised concerns that security would be at stake. But federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s proposal isn’t exactly far-fetched. When NASA asked several of its chief technology officers where NASA technology is headed over the next five years, mobile computing took center stage. James McClellan, CTO at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said “I don’t think it’s much of a leap to say that 5 years from now the average NASA employee will be using a mobile computing platform…

NASA's big announcement: Possible 'second genesis' of life

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The Washington Post has an advance peek at the big announcement NASA has scheduled for later today. It’s not aliens, but it is pretty interesting nonetheless — researchers have found a bacterium that relies on arsenic, not phosphorus, as one of its six essential components. The Post said this doesn’t prove that some forms of life on Earth evolved from a different common ancestor than the rest of us — the so-called “second genesis.” “But the discovery very much opens the door to that possibility, and to the related existence of a theorized ‘shadow biosphere’ on earth.” The Mono Lake…

Has NASA found aliens?

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As if the pay freeze news wasn’t enough excitement for one week, now NASA has scheduled a press conference for Thursday afternoon to discuss something “that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.” There’s only one thing this could mean: NASA has aliens. Now let’s just hope they’re the friendly, ET-kind of visitors, and not the warlike Klingon types. Seriously, though, probably not. The press conference is to discuss astrobiology (the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe), and its participants are experts in molecular evolution and evolutionary ecology. And if Hollywood…

Contract confusion

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A little fuzzy on the distinctions between various types of federal contracts? Don’t feel bad, because some federal contracting officers are, too, according to a Federal Register notice published today. In a jointly filed proposed rule, the Defense Department, NASA and the General Services Administration indicate that they are trying to correct the mistaken impression among contracting officers “governmentwide” that the fixed labor rates in time-and-materials/labor-hour contracts make them “fixed-price type contracts.” In fact, as the Government Accountability Office reported last year, time and materials contracts are considered high-risk because the contractor’s profit hinges on the number of hours worked.

NASA helping trapped Chilean miners cope

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Got a few dozen miners who are going to be trapped in a confined space for a few months? Need to figure out how to keep them from growing depressed, bored or otherwise driving each other crazy? Call NASA, of course. USA Today reports that NASA is lending its psychiatric assistance to 33 Chilean miners who are stuck in a collapsed mine and are two to four months away from rescue. For obvious reasons, NASA has put a lot of thought into how people relate to one another when they’re stuck in a tin can for months at a time…

NASA's search for the perfect wake-up song

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For at least 45 years, NASA’s mission control has awakened voyaging astronauts each morning by playing them songs — some funny, some poignant, some live, and some hilariously inappropriate. (Who thought it would be a good idea to play David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” — which ends with a doomed astronaut’s malfunctioning spacecraft drifting through space — not once, but twice?) Now, time is running out on NASA’s space shuttle program, and along with it, that fun tradition. But before it ends, NASA has decided to let the public get in on the act. NASA on Friday launched its “Space Rock”…

AP: O'Keefe in critical condition

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The Associated Press reports that former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe is in critical condition after the plane crash that claimed the life of former Sen. Ted Stevens. O’Keefe and his son Kevin — who also survived Monday’s crash and is listed in serious condition — suffered broken bones and other injuries. Five people, including Stevens, died in the crash. The AP says that authorities are studying the weather patterns from that night to figure out what caused the small plane to go down.