The GAO discovers another out-of-control NASA project

Government marches on! A new GAO report has found that NASA’s effort to upgrade the ground-based portion of its satellite communications system, used by both military satellites and manned spacecraft, is more than 30 percent over budget, with its completion now delayed two years to 2019.

Worse, the GAO found that this problem program was actually one of three that have had budget problems. And that doesn’t include the disastrously overbudget James Webb Space Telescope.

In its latest assessment of NASA’s biggest programs, the U.S. Government Accountability Office identified the Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) as one of three — not counting the notoriously overbudget James Webb Space Telescope — that account for most of the projected cumulative cost growth this year. The others are the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, which launched March 12, and the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, mission, the congressional watchdog agency said.

The last two projects are part of the climate focus that Obama imposed on NASA.

It’s National Hate Week!

Link here.

Today, we’re all hating on Indiana. Who will be the left’s Emmanuel Goldstein next week?

Evidently, the sole function of the media these days is to subject the public to a steady stream of manufactured events: “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”; nuclear power kills; Lena Dunham’s rape by a college conservative at Oberlin; the “mattress girl” raped at Columbia University; Jon Stewart is funny; a fraternity gang-rape at the University of Virginia; and a law protecting religious freedom will lead to separate water fountains for gays in Indiana.

The whole country has to keep being dragged through these liberal hate campaigns, but as soon as the precipitating event turns out to be a gigantic hoax, the truth is revealed like a bedtime story being read to a child: The ending is whispered and the narrator tiptoes out of the room.

Read it all. It will help you distinguish between real news and modern leftwing propaganda, based on lies, being promoted by our modern mainstream press.

Meanwhile, that pizzeria whose owner said they wouldn’t cater a same-sex wedding, though they’d be glad to sell pizzas to homosexuals, has been forced to close because of death threats, including one threat on twitter from a high school coach who thought it a good idea to get together and burn the place down. She has since been suspended from her job.

Dawn’s chief engineer gives us a detailed update

Link here. Chief engineer Marc Rayman loves to write about Dawn, and his posts on the Dawn blog are probably the most information-packed of any spacecraft blog I have ever read. Key quote this time:

Dawn’s extensive photographic coverage of the sunlit terrain in early May will include these bright spots. They will not be in view, however, when Dawn spies the thin crescent of Ceres in its next optical navigation session, scheduled for April 10.

The orientation of the spacecraft and asteroid now are such that there is no point taking pictures, as most of the asteroid is in darkness.

Read it all, however. He gives a masterful overview of what is going to happen in the coming months.

Problems for Rosetta during its most recent fly-by of Comet 67P/C-G

During its most recent close fly-by of Comet 67P/C-G Rosetta had a number of issues that caused the spacecraft to go into safe mode.

During the most recent flyby, a number of issues were reported, starting with the primary star tracker encountering difficulties in locking on to stars on the way in towards closest approach. Attempts were made to regain tracking capabilities, but there was too much background noise due to activity close to the comet nucleus: hundreds of ‘false stars’ [from comet debris] were registered and it took almost 24 hours before tracking was properly re-established.

In the meantime, a spacecraft attitude error had built up, resulting in the high gain antenna off-pointing from the Earth. Indeed, a significant drop in the radio signal received by ground stations on Earth was registered. Following recovery of the star tracker system, the off-pointing was immediately automatically corrected and the operations team subsequently saw a return to a full strength signal from the spacecraft.

However, issues with false stars were still occurring. Cross comparisons with other navigation mechanisms showed inconsistencies with the star trackers and some on board reconfigurations occurred. While attempting to reconfigure those, the same error occurred again leading this time to an automatic safe mode on Sunday afternoon. Safe modes occur when certain spacecraft parameters fall out of their normal operating ranges and the spacecraft automatically takes measures to preserve its safety. This also includes switching off the science instruments to protect them.

Rosetta is operating nominally now, but these issues are going to get more serious in the coming months, as the comet gets more active. Rosetta’s engineering team is going to have to come up with a method for the spacecraft’s star trackers to distinguish between stars and the debris in the comet’s coma. If they don’t it is likely that they will have to reduce the close fly-bys significantly.

Russian government takes over Vostochny construction

The Russian government has once again increased its supervision of the construction of the Vostochny spaceport, now 120 days behind schedule.

They want to launch the first rocket from the spaceport by December of this year. The story also describes how contractors have been ordered, by Russia’s deputy prime minister himself, to stop leaving delicate new equipment in unprotected environments, as the equipment has been delivered before the buildings they are supposed be stored in have been finished.

Where the equipment will be put is not said. The boss has ordered it, however, so it better happen!

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