Where science and tech meet creativity.

Live blogging will begin here at 5:30pm

5:10pm A presentation will be by Dr Laurie Leshin, Deputy Associate administrator, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Title : “New Oppurtunities in the President’s FY2011 Budget”

5:12pm Speaker is not dressed in back. While there are people downstairs pre-lecture drinking in the bar, I don’t think it will be too awful. I fear for man (or at least manned space exploration) but I trust in science (or at least Obama’s support of science and science ed)

5:14pm This liveblog is made possible by my Verizon 3G cell card and the power strip under the mixing board (and the help of the friendly person manning the mixing board).

5:19pm They are now micing people up and the room is filling.

5:24pm New slide show on screen “Planetary Science Division Program Status” by James L Green, Director, Planetary Science Division

5:33pm Getting started with about 950 people in the room.

5:34pm Jim Green speaking first, then Laurie (introducer had to double check titles since everyone at NASA is moving around HQ)

5:35 Many changes in NASA HQ. Some friendly faces retiring: Marilyn Lindstrom I’ll miss, along with Karen McBride, Tom Morgan and Dave Lindstrom. Coming in are Kristen Erickson, Jeff Grossman, Amy Kaminski, Tiffany Nail, and Andrea Razzaghi. There are likely to be more hires in future.

5:38pm Three New Frontiers announced: MoonRIse (SPA Basin Sample Return), OSIRIS-Rex (Asteroid Sample return), SAGE (Venus Lander) Go forth and steal rocks!

5:42pm Top Line budget: Earth Science +29%!

5:45pm Total SMD Budget Increased (FY11-10) by $512M. New Initiatives: New Climate initiative at $380M & Planetary Science growing $145M! This is not costing other directorate’s budgets

5:46 Bugets

Approved Cassini “Solctice” mission through 2017

  • NEO identification and characterization not at $16M/yr – major increase in funding
  • Cost sharing arrangement with DOE to restart Pu-238 production
  • Continues to operate 11 planetary missions including LRO
  • Fully funds: Juno, GRAIL, MSL, LADEE, and MAVEN
  • Develops Advanced Sterling Radioactive Generators for 2014-2015 launch readiness
  • Continues funding for Europa Jupiter mission

5:54pm Congress upset that NASA keeps money unspent to long. It turns out that while grants are 5% of NASA expenditures, 50% of these expenditures are billed by universities months and months after work actually happened. (will need to check with my grants office…)

5:56 Upcoming highlights:

  • Nov 4, 10 EPOXI  at HArtley 2
  • Mar 18, 11 MESSENGER orbit insertion
  • July Juno launch Oct MSL Launch
  • Aug 2012 MSL Lands on Mars

5:59pm Dr Laurie Leshin, Deputy Associate administrator, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate now on podium

6:00pm You are here now: NASA has 4 directorates ARMD (Aeronautics Research), SMD (science), SOMD (Space Operations), ESMD (Explorations Systems. This talk focuses on ESMD

6:01pm The Presidents FY 2011 Budget Request takes a new approach to goals – “focusing on capabilities that will allow us to reach multiple destinations including the Moon, Asteroids, Lagrange points, and more.”

6:03pm “PResident’s Budget challenges NASA to embark on a new human space exploration program that invests near term in obtaining key knowledge about future destinations and demonstrating critical enabling technologis for human space flight and exploration” It requires NASA to show tech works, show returns are worth it, and then build tech for people.

6:06pm New efforts to expand links to commercial space flight are a different way to same manned-spaceflight goal. Yes, Constellation is cancelled, but that is not the end of manned spaceflight. Just the end of a program. The people behind Constellation made the best of an underfunded situation; the worked hard and did well with what they had. But Obama wants to take a different path.

6:10pm Just as NASA helped facilitate development of commercial cargo rockets (Go SpaceX – your Falcon 9 is pictured), NASA will now help commercial space craft get crew (=people) to ISS. Commercial groups build, NASA procures.

6:11pm by investing in new technology (and demonstrating new technology) we can bring down costs/masses/worry concerned with future missions. This is tied in Flagship Technology Demonstrations. “Mars destination is a driving case for high leverage demonstration and technology”

6:16pm Exploration Precursor Robotic Missions “rovide venue for flight validation” While Mars is a goal, practicing on the Moon is in the “slides”. Partnerships span gov’t+commercial+international – everyone welcome

6:18pm While LRO + LCROSS had no followup projects in old budget, the new budget allows this. These missions proved that precursor missions are needed in so many ways. The example shown is how LRO’s CRaTER (cosmic ray detector) demonstrated that the Moon reflects Galactic Cosmic Rays – a form of radiation we’ll need to account for when humans land

6:24pm Asked about termination costs of Constellation. These are still being determined. So far $9B spent, but cost to actually get to Moon was going to be much much more.

6:35pm Several people asking questions that point out that we’ve gone from NASA having a series of very specific goals and very specific timelines to general goals and no timelines. There is concern and a desire for specificity. Leshin asks for patience. Honestly, I’m ok with NASA hitting the reset button and starting from scratch to define their future in a way we will believe