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Posts from the ‘Space’ Category


A Timeline of NASA Competitions

Pausing for a “work meets play” moment, thanks to stumbling across the cool interactive timeline tools at   To try out the new tool, I loaded up a database of NASA mission proposal competitions over the last 20 years, mostly in science and technology.   The dry run is available here.  (Or view a screencap here).


Last Slice of the Pie

Time for one last slice of the NASA pie, this time broken out state by state (following up on previous slices by Company, and by Field Center).   Again, all data are from NASA’s annual procurement reports, are inflation-adjusted to FY10 dollars, and are 3-year smoothed.  The embedded time-series begin in 1999 (reflecting a 1997-1999 average) and end in 2010 (thus, the data still only reflect the old Constellation program, and not the Obama administration’s requested new direction).

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Another slice of the NASA pie

Last week I sliced the NASA procurement history up based on its deployment through its ten field Centers.  Today, a slightly different take – tracking the end recipients.    Well, to a point … NASA’s official procurement data only tracks the “prime contractor” recipients of awards (whether technical primes or support service contractors).   In the actual aerospace industry, of course, the money then gets distributed through layers of subtier suppliers (subcontractors).   That said – even tracking the primes over time is interesting. Read more »


Eating the NASA pie

Today’s post is just a data rack-and-stack-and-dump; this time of fifty years of NASA annual procurement report data.   (Add NASA to the long list of Federal agencies which report annual data, but do not trend it).  As with many such data sets, a little graphic visualization often helps understand long term historical trends. Read more »


The Eye of The Storm

NASA enjoys the stablest budget in the Federal government.  Why then its continual state of disarray?

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Is the market really looking up for commercial space?

A while back I published a hard look at the optimistic launch demand estimates generated by FAA’s COMSTAC annual forecast.  This year’s forecast has just been released.    In addition to the forecast, the report has for many years included a valuable and underutilized source of information, which provides a more believable and fundamental basis for optimism in the commercial launch sector.   Read more »


Three Books in a Storm

Very little can be said to have been “good” about the brutal Alabama tornado outbreak of 27 April 2011.  I was fortunate enough to come through unscathed both in body and property, inconvenienced only by five days without power.  In a “glass half full” sort of way, five powerless days and public entreaties to stay out of the way of recovery efforts did have one upside: I got to catch up on quite a bit of reading.  Below are some drive-by reviews of an odd assortment of pent up reading material. Read more »


Commercial Launch (Forecast) Fever

This will be a difficult entry to pen without being accused of being “hostile” to the emergent U.S. commercial space industry (which I am not).  It is – as with most posts in this blog – a discussion of data, more specifically, data from forecasts.   Very optimistic forecasts.   If it makes it any easier to swallow, very optimistic government forecasts.

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You Are What You Tweet

NASA’s ten field Centers (well, nine and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, technically a Federally Funded Research and Development Center) do the “heavy lifting” of NASA’s missions.   Each Center has a portfolio of skills, capabilities and missions entrusted to their care.   Each Center also has its own “flavor”, focusing on those things it does best.   (Actually, this is as much culture as it is flavor).   I was curious to see how strongly each Center’s “branding” might show up in our “official” tweets.

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