Chicago Future Forum

Future Forums

October 10th marked the seventh and final Future Forum celebrating NASA’s 50th anniversary at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. Before I provide a brief rundown on the Chicago Future Forum, I would like to take a moment to thank the NASA team for their efforts.

Special thanks go to NASA’s Office of Communications Planning, who coordinated and managed all the Forums, along with the great support of the Office of Public Affairs, the Office of Education, the NASA Mission Directorates, and the NASA Centers.

We achieved the goal of reaching out to communities that do not have direct connections to NASA to engage them on the importance of space exploration to their daily lives. We touched over 1,500 business leaders, museum attendees, students, and civic leaders around the country this year alone. The tremendous amount of hard work and effort put into these events cannot be overstated and I commend the entire NASA team for taking the Future Forum concept into reality. Without you, these events would not have been such a success.

Chicago Future Forum

I would like to thank Dr. Paul Knappenberger, Director of the Adler Planetarium, for being such a wonderful host and master of ceremony. I also would like to thank our sponsors and key partners for helping to make the Chicago Future Forum possible.

NASA has an interesting connection to the Adler. NASA Astronaut John Grunsfeld’s grandfather, Ernest Grunsfeld, was the lead architect in its design in the 1920s. I have said in previous blogs that Future Forums are a series of one-day events that highlight the benefits of space exploration through the themes of inspiration, innovation and discovery and connect those themes to a local, regional and state perspective. They also provide a venue to educate the public about the future of space exploration.

An impressive group of individuals from academia and industry volunteered their time to participate on the panels. I would like to thank the NASA speakers for their contributions at the Chicago Future Forum: Woodrow Whitlow, Director, NASA Glenn Research Center; Bernice Alston, Deputy Associate Administrator for Education; Astronauts Bobby Satcher and Ken Ham; and Astronaut Carl Walz, Director of the Advanced Capabilities Division in ESMD. I would also like to thank Kristen Erickson, Mike Green, Jim Hull, and Roselee Roberts from NASA Headquarters for their efforts in all of the Future Forums held across the country celebrating NASA’s 50 years of exploration. Finally, thanks to Bob Hopkins for coming up with the Future Forum idea and all the work he did before departing the Agency to be the Senior Vice President and Marketing Director of Washington Operations at Phillips & Co., a business consulting firm.

Future Forum Boston

On September 18, I participated in NASA’s sixth Future Forum in Boston, Massachusetts,Shana Dale speaking at the Boston Future Forum at the Museum of Science. In this month’s Parents magazine, the Museum of Science is ranked the third best science center in the entire country. It is also the most visited cultural institution in New England. You may remember from my previous blogs that Future Forums are a series of one-day events that highlight the benefits of space exploration through the themes of inspiration, innovation and discovery and connect those themes to a local, regional and state perspective. They also provide a venue to educate the public about the future of space exploration.

Similar to the other Future Forums, the Boston event relied heavily on our partners in the local area. An impressive group of individuals from academia and industry graciously volunteered their time to participate in  our inspiration, innovation, and discovery panels. Dr. Ioannis Miaoulis, President of the Museum of Science, was our gracious host for the day and participated on the Inspiration panel, “Building Idea Factories for the Future.” We had Drs. Jeff Hoffman, Dava Newman and Larry Young from MIT; Drs. Charles Czeisler and Harvey Tananbaum from Harvard; and Dr. Isa Zimmerman from the University of Massachusetts. From industry, we had Ms. Helen Greiner, CEO, iRobot, and Ms. Lee Silvestre from Raytheon. We also were pleased to haveShana Dale presenting an award at Boston Future Forum Mr. Joe Sciulli from the National Science Teachers Association. Of course, I must also acknowledge the great contributions from my NASA colleagues: Steve Cook, Jim Garvin, Lesa Roe, Chris Shank, and Joyce Winterton. These partners played a critical role in making the event a success. I am truly grateful for their contributions.
I delivered the keynote and received proclamations from Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino congratulating NASA on its 50 years of success. The audience especially enjoyed a presentation by Steve Cook, Ares Program Manager, on the Constellation Program.

Shana Dale presenting an awardThe Boston event also included a luncheon keynote address from Dr. James Garvin, currently the chief scientist for planetary exploration at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He gave an inspiring talk that focused on the future of science and exploration at NASA and how inextricably they are tied. Dr. Garvin also did a television interview with Boston’s Channel 5, WCVB. This was filmed amid a variety of NASA exhibits that were on display at the Museum for a week. On Sunday preceding the Future Forum, the NASA exhibit staff team interacted with more than 5,000 visitors. 

The final Future Forum in celebration of NASA’s 50th anniversary will be held on October 10 at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. You can read more at

California Outreach Effort

Last week, I was on travel again hitting three different venues in California. On Tuesday, 13 May, I was the keynote speaker for the California Space Authority’s Space Day Luncheon in Sacramento. While speaking to the group, made up of aerospace contractors, California cabinet officials, and space enthusiasts about the history of our Nation’s space program and the exciting future ahead of us, another kind of history was being made just across the street in the state capitol building. Assemblywoman Karen Bass was being sworn in as the first African American female Speaker of the California Assembly.

Wednesday, I was in San Jose for the fifth NASA Future Forum. The San Jose Tech Museum was a terrific venue for the Future Forum and the officials at the museum provided a week’s worth of space-related educational activities to the local community. On the day of the Future Forum 1,600 students toured the museum. In my last blog, I mentioned that the San Jose Future Forum would be on Second Life and so it was. It was another unconventional outreach opportunity, and I would like to thank Erika Vick for creating and managing my avatar, Xena Dahl (closest name to Dale). I was joking when I said to name my avatar Xena, but the avatar was created — thanks Erika  — and so I’m just going to run with it.

I am excited about the future and I enjoy talking about what we are doing and where we are going with the Nation’s space program. What resonates with the general public the most is the combination of the inspiration from our space exploration missions with the examples of how NASA-derived technologies are critical for life here on earth.

The base speech for the Future Forums was the same and what we changed was the discussion of state-specific information and NASA-derived technologies. For example, in Miami I used ResQPOD and in San Jose I talked about software technology developed at NASA JPL called VICAR, Video Image Communication and Retrieval.

After my keynote in San Jose, several individuals said my speech was “powerful” and that is such a compliment because now they “get” it and are re-energized in their interest in America’s space program. As my staff says, the speeches I give are getting better. I am an introvert by nature and I have stepped way out of my comfort zone, but I feel it is extremely important to discuss the importance of NASA to the general public.  

Lastly, on Thursday, I spent the morning meeting with the local elected officials of Mountain View and Sunnyvale in California. Ames Research Center has done a great job of working with their local communities.

Budget Rollout

Budget Rollout

The preparation for budget rollout is always intense. This year, it was even more so because the budget experts at NASA were dealing with preparing the fiscal year (FY) 2008 operating plan for submission back to the Hill; rapidly reworking the account structure for NASA for the FY2009 budget and five-year run-out (as required by the FY2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act); preparing for FY2009 budget rollout; and working the strategic planning guidance for all areas of NASA to start preparation of the FY2010 budget request.

I have to admit that I am glad last week is over. The budget press conference on Monday (February 4) went well. Lynn Cline (Deputy Associate Administrator [AA] for Space Operations), Rick Gilbrech (AA for Exploration), Jaiwon Shin (AA for Aeronautics), and Alan Stern (AA for Science) joined me for the press conference and the Q&A went very fast. At the end, I was thinking, “Are there no more questions?” I decided to keep that as an internal thought bubble and not say it out loud.

On Thursday of last week (February 7), I spoke before the National Space Club at what has become an annual event to communicate with the Washington, DC crowd about the budget request.

Presidential Rank Awards

After days filled with budget books and numbers, I had the pleasure of honoring the NASA Presidential Rank Award winners. Each year, the President recognizes a small group of career Senior Executives with the Presidential Rank Award for exceptional long-term accomplishments. Winners of this prestigious award are strong leaders, professionals, and scientists who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry, and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service.

There are two categories of rank awards: Distinguished and Meritorious. Award winners are chosen through a rigorous selection process. They are nominated by their agency heads, evaluated by boards of private citizens, and approved by the President. The evaluation criteria focus on leadership and results.

The NASA awardees are employees dedicated to NASA’s missions, to aeronautics and science and human space flight. Accomplishments made by awardees include leading teams that investigated technical issues directly related to the loss of Columbia; being part of the Hubble Space Telescope program’s incredible success; streamlining aeronautics operations at Ames; making major contributions to the aeronautics budget development process; developing and implementing NASA’s solar physics and geospace science programs; overseeing NASA’s spectacular astrophysics programs; ensuring the success of the avionics and software for International Space Station; leading the development of Orion Service module; and selecting, tailoring, and applying technical requirements as we develop the Ares I launch vehicle.

We should thank all of these employees for their service and commitment to excellence. The list of Rank Award winners can be found at

Events Next Week

On Monday, February 18, I travel to San Jose, CA, to give the keynote address at the National Association of Women Business Owners of Silicon Valley (NAWBO-SV) Awards luncheon. I was surprised to get the invitation and wanted to know why they wanted someone from NASA. My hope is that our collective efforts to reach out to industries and groups beyond traditional aerospace are resonating. Mike Griffin and I consider this another great opportunity to spread the message about the exciting work that NASA is engaged in and how what we do in the space program has relevance to everyday life.

Since this is a group of female entrepreneurs who have started and own their own businesses, I will tailor my speech around the space economy. We define space economy as the full range of activities that create and provide value to human beings in the course of exploring, understanding, and utilizing space. Space is pervasive in our lives, invisible yet critical to so many aspects of our daily activities and well-being. One of our jobs is to highlight the technologies derived from space exploration that most people take for granted.

I have found that people in the high-tech industries are very receptive to the message of how NASA drives markets (microprocessors during the Apollo days) and develops technologies for space exploration that are then modified or transformed for a specific application here on Earth (advanced breast cancer imaging and robots that search for improvised explosive devices). All of this leads to NASA spurring innovation and helping drive U.S. economic competitiveness. The goal is to link the awe-inspiring work we do at NASA (people around the country are very interested in and excited by our work) with something that hits home with the listener. For NAWBO, I believe they will be very interested in how space exploration spurs U.S. economic competitiveness.

Then I fly to Columbus, OH, for the second NASA Future Forum, which will be held at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) on February 21. The Columbus Future Forum will focus on how space exploration benefits Ohio’s economy. Astronaut Carl Walz, director of NASA’s Advanced Capabilities Division, will provide an overview of NASA’s exploration program. Other NASA participants include Woodrow Whitlow, director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center, and Glenn employees John Hairston and Dr. Geoffrey Landis.

Our industry and University speakers include Dr. Anthony Dennis, President and CEO, BioOhio; Dr. John Stanford, Executive Assistant for Education Policy, State of Ohio; Dr. Kim Kiehl, Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships, COSI; and Ms. Dorothy Baunach, President and CEO, NorTech. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland will deliver the luncheon keynote.

The Seattle Future Forum in January was very successful and exceeded my high expectations. I believe the Columbus Future Forum will be equally impressive. The Future Forums coming up are St. Louis in March, Miami in April, and San Jose in May.

St. Louis Future Forum and STS-123 Landing

St. Louis Future Forum

There were several issues to deal with this week. Earlier this week, there were some issues with the Mars program. Today, Friday, March 28, was the first day back in the office from my road trip, so back-to-back meetings including one on workforce transition from Shuttle to Constellation (more on that next week). I will highlight some of the external events of the week, because that’s the extent of what I feel I can discuss.

Shana Dale at St. Louis Future Forum, March 25, 2008 (Credit: NASA)On Tuesday, March 25, I spoke at the St. Louis Future Forum which was held in the beautiful St. Louis Science Center. This was the third Future Forum held as part of NASA’s 50th year long anniversary celebration. As I have said in previous blogs, the intent of the Future Forum is to reach out to communities that may not be as knowledgeable about the space program as those of us that live it every day. 

If you read my speeches, you know I spend a great deal of time talking about the space economy and the tangible benefits we all receive from the space program. At the Future Forums, the makeup of the audience ranges from undergraduates to business owners, as well as the general public. It is a varied group and yet they are truly interested in learning more about what we do on a daily basis and are very surprised to learn how NASA impacts their lives.

Carl Walz and I did an informal press conference with Doug King, the Director of the St. Louis Science Center. Camera crews from the local stations, Fox TV2 and KSDK (NBC) were on hand to tape us. After that, Jon Grayson with radio station KMOX. And before we hit the airport, we sat with the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Namely the reporters and editors asked similar questions such as how are we able to accomplish so much within such a constrained budget; what is planned for the next generation of human spaceflight, what are some of the challenges, and why did you come to St. Louis?

The timing of the St. Louis Future Forum was perfect. Numerous individuals came up to me to talk about their hometown hero, STS-123 Mission Specialist Robert Behnken. When I told them I was on my way to the Kennedy Space Center to watch the landing of Endeavour with him on board, they were thrilled. Robert is a native son of the St. Louis area and they are extremely proud of him.

STS-123 Landing

This was my first opportunity to view a landing as NASA’s Deputy Administrator. The STS-123 crew accomplished so much in the time they were in orbit and this mission is the longest to date. What an incredible accomplishment. STS-123 was another building mission to the International Space Station (ISS) where the crew delivered and attached the Kibo Module and Dextre. 

Shana Dale at Mission Control during STS-123 Landing, March 26, 2008 (Credit: NASA)Initially, I sat with Mike Griffin on-console in the Launch Control Center (LCC) and listened to the communications between the LCC, Mission Control Center, the Shuttle Training Aircraft and the crew of Endeavour as discussions were held on the weather. The crew was told to do a wave off of the first landing opportunity due to cloud cover in the area. After de-orbit burn, we went to the landing strip to wait. 

Several of us talked about this remarkable night because not only was Endeavour about to land, but we were able to view the Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle and shortly thereafter, the ISS flying overhead within minutes of each other. The ISS becomes larger and easier to see with the naked eye as it grows with our components, as well as those of our international partners.

STS-123 Landing at Kennedy Space Center, March 26, 2008 (Credit: NASA)About two minutes before we were able to see the orbiter come into view, there were two sonic booms in quick succession and then Endeavour appeared to glide through the brightness of the xenon lights at the head of the runway. Then once again, she was back on terra firma. This was the 16th night landing at KSC, the 22nd night landing in the Space Shuttle program, and the 68th landing at KSC. Once again, it was an amazing achievement in our human spaceflight program. On March 11, we wished the Endeavour and her crew Godspeed and on March 26, we welcomed her home. 

GRC Outreach and More on Future Forums

This Week

I spoke to the 3rd Annual Space Exploration Conference in Denver on Tuesday. Given that I am so often in front of aerospace crowds these days, it was a unique opportunity to involve the aerospace community in what we’ve been doing in outreach, particularly the Future Forums, and what is planned for the Future. I also introduced the new feature on NASA’s website, NASA Home and City, where you click on a particular item — on an airplane, at the grocery store, in the hospital, etc. — and see how it was derived from NASA technology or cooperation. It’s a fun tool.

With the rollout of the FY2009 budget, Mike Griffin testified last week before the House Science & Technology Committee. Next week he testifies before House Appropriations and April 4 before Senate Appropriations.

Governor’s Remarks from Columbus Future Forum

Ohio Governor Strickland’s remarks at the Columbus Future Forum last week were fabulous [(read transcript (PDF)]. He said, “NASA’s space exploration and research efforts have not only opened corners of the universe, they have improved life on this planet. NASA’s countless advances affect our daily lives and energize our economy. In materials, medicine, biology, fuel economy, aviation, information technology, and telecommunications NASA has sped our path to the future.”

Washington Lt. Governor Owen’s remarks at the Seattle Future Forum were similarly striking [read transcript (PDF), listen to speech (MP3)]. He said, “NASA, more than any government organization, has been the seed of inspiration and imagination for millions around the country and the world. The seeds that NASA has planted in its space programs have sowed nothing short of miracles and accomplishment, reaching far beyond the extraordinary technology that launched men and women into space time and again.” You can see from both speeches that these leaders understand the importance of space to communities in their states. That is the goal of the Future Forums and these forums are proving to be very effective.

Introduction of John Hairston’s Posting

John Hairston, Director of External Relations at Glenn Research Center, participated in the Columbus Future Forum. Under John’s leadership, Glenn has been out in front in thinking of innovative means to reach out to local communities in Ohio. John’s posting on some of these planned and ongoing activities is below.

Glenn Outreach by John Hairston

Since listening to Shana Dale’s keynote address about the space economy at the Columbus Future Forum, I’ve been thinking about how NASA’s Glenn Research Center contributes to the space economy through outreach to government officials, businesses, educational institutions and the general public. As Glenn prepares to coordinate its 2007 Economic Impact study, we’re reflecting on the many ways that our Center adds value to Ohio. I’d like to share with you a few of the unique outreach opportunities we’re pursuing this year with four key audiences.


Ohio is unique in the nation. It has a vast aerospace industry that is supported by an outstanding higher education system, but it lacks a state-wide aerospace strategy. To address this issue, Glenn is collaborating on the planning and execution of the first-ever Ohio Aerospace Day. The event will gather government, industry, academic and economic development institutions to increase awareness of Ohio’s aerospace industry among key federal and state leaders and to exchange ideas on public policies and strategic partnerships.


Visitors look at instrumentOhio companies have always been involved in the space program — over 52 of them have supplied the space shuttle — and we expect them to continue to play a strong role in the Constellation Program.  To make sure that happens, on May 16, 2008, Glenn will host area businesses for a series of workshops designed to introduce them to the U.S. Space Exploration Policy and help them identify potential roles for their companies. 

This fiscal year, Glenn also entered into NASA’s first inter-agency agreement with the U.S. Navy to help companies accelerate the commercialization of technologies funded by the Small Business Innovative Research Program. The companies will present their technologies in a NASA Showcase at the 8th Navy Opportunity Forum on June 2-4 in Crystal City, Virginia.


Glenn’s Education office has joined forces with the Cleveland Municipal School District to open a school that is like no other public school in the United States. At this science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) high school, students will participate in an integrated curriculum that fosters critical thinking, creativity and communication. Academics will emphasize how math, science and technology shape our world. The school is named MC2 STEM, and it will open in the fall of 2008. We’re also collaborating with several educational organizations to provide classroom and online content for an Ohio Department of Education professional development plan for science teachers.


The Office of Community and Media Relations engages the community both outside and within Glenn’s gates. On the Third Saturday of every month, Glenn’s Visitor Center staff invites the public to join them for a full day of presentations, exhibits and activities for the whole family. The Third Saturday events bring more than 9,000 guests to the Visitor Center every year. 

Outside of Glenn’s gates, Glenn’s Speakers Bureau reaches more than 60,000 people a year and is comprised of scientists, engineers and other Glenn employees who educate the public on topics ranging from NASA careers to space exploration. This year, under the direction of Center Director, Dr. Woodrow Whitlow Jr., Glenn’s senior management team is joining the Speakers Bureau.


National Association of Women Business Owners

National Association of Women Business Owners

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale at National Association of Women Business Owners - Silicon Valley, Feb. 19, 2008On Tuesday, I spoke at the National Association of Women Business Owners, Silicon Valley Chapter (NAWBO-SV), first annual awards luncheon in San Jose, California.

There are some recurring themes in this speech and the Future Forum speeches. They are powerful messages and resonate well—particularly with business groups. As I mentioned in my speech to the group, there are many similarities between the pursuit of innovation by these business owners and the way innovation is integral to NASA’s mission.

It was an enthusiastic crowd of highly accomplished women and a few highly accomplished men. They were impressed by the benefits they receive from America’s space program. They also found it surprising that for all the work we do—aeronautics research, earth science, space science, and human space flight—it is on a budget that is less than 6/10ths of 1 percent of the federal budget. I got the impression that they thought NASA generates a good return on investment.

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale at National Association of Women Business Owners - Silicon Valley, Feb. 19, 2008Ms. Cecelia (Ceil) McCloy, President and CEO of Integrated Science Solutions, Inc. (ISSi), received the NAWBO-SV Public Policy Advocate of the Year Award for 2008. In a previous blog, I mentioned that ISSi was named 2007 Small Business Administration Region IX Prime Contractor of the Year. This award honors small businesses that have provided the federal government with outstanding goods and services as prime contractors. ISSi, a certified woman-owned science and engineering firm started in 1999, supports NASA Ames by performing the Environmental Support Services Contract at the Center.

This group is energized, motivated and now engaged with the NASA mission. I look forward to my return to the Silicon Valley the week of May 12 for a Future Forum to continue the dialogue.

Columbus Future Forum

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale at Future Forum, Columbus, Ohio, February 19, 2008 On Thursday, I gave the opening keynote speech at NASA’s second Future Forum in Columbus, Ohio at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI). COSI, led by David Cheseborough, provides an interactive atmosphere for people of all ages to learn about science, industry, and health. This hands-on science center was a great venue for the Future Forum, allowing us to touch on the three themes of innovation, inspiration, and discovery.

Like the first Future Forum in Seattle, the Columbus Future Forum relied heavily on our partners in the local area. The panel sessions included a mix of NASA officials and local leaders from business, academia and education. Our industry and university speakers included Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, former astronaut and now Director, Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy; Dr. Anthony Dennis, President and CEO, BioOhio; Dr. John Stanford, Executive Assistant for Education Policy, State of Ohio; Dr. Kim Kiehl, Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships, COSI; Brig. Gen. David A. Herrelko, USAF (Ret.), University of Dayton; Ms. Dorothy Baunach, President and CEO, NorTech; Dr. Jeffrey A. Schmidt, Senior Manager for Corporate Business Development, Ball Aerospace; and Dr. Gerald T. Noel, Sr., Associate Director, NASA Ohio Space Grant Consortium. I would like to thank these participants. They were enthusiastic and informative, and made the event a great success.

The agenda highlights also included a presentation from astronaut Carl Walz and a taped downlink from ISS Commander Peggy Whitson. Carl is also the Director, Advanced Capabilities Division at NASA Headquarters. He gave a presentation on the Constellation Program. Other NASA participants included Woodrow Whitlow, director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center; Glenn Director of External Relations, John Hairston; and Dr. Geoffrey Landis, also from Glenn. I appreciate the time and effort of our NASA participants in the Future Forum as well as the NASA and partner teams behind the scenes who worked so hard on this event.

The Columbus event included a luncheon keynote address from The Honorable Ted Strickland, Governor of Ohio who touched on the theme of NASA’s relevance to everyday life. Also, on behalf of NASA, I received a Reading of Proclamation by Mr. Mike Mentel, President, Columbus City, honoring NASA’s 50th Anniversary. There was considerable media coverage of the event as well as local interest in NASA’s exhibits. Early in the morning, I did a live shot with the statewide news service Ohio News Network. Carl Walz, David Cheseborough and I held a press meeting in the morning with several local television affiliates. Later in the afternoon, I did an editorial board with the Columbus Dispatch. COSI staff held a number of events for the public and extended their hours to handle the crowds.

To coincide with the Future Forum, NASA, along with its partners, arranged for 1,500 square feet of interactive exhibits on space exploration and science at the museum. For more details, please visit


FY09 Budget Rollout

FY09 Budget Rollout


I’ve been spending a great deal of time this week preparing for the rollout of the President’s FY 2009 budget request. The rollout will occur on Monday, February 4. As part of the rollout, I will be talking to the media to explain NASA’s budget request and to answer questions.


Today, I participated in a press conference along with the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We announced that NASA is working closely with NOAA & OSTP to support the flight of critical climate measurements that were removed from the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) platform following the Nunn-McCurdy recertification of the program. Specifically NASA will be flying the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) on the NPOESS Preparatory Project, and is working to remanifest the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) instrument to follow the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) now preparing to fly on NASA’s Glory mission.


We also discussed what will be a big deal for Earth science and for NASA: the Administration’s FY 2009 plan enables NASA to vigorously embark on the recommendations of the first ever Earth Science Decadal Survey. NASA’s budget will allow for five total new mission starts, over the next six years, with the first Decadal Survey mission launch planned for 2012. NASA plans to start work on the first two missions in FY 2009: SMAP and ICESAT-II. SMAP is the Soil Moisture Active/Passive mission and it is designed to measure soil moisture. ICESAT-II, the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite, is designed to precisely measure the heights of ice sheets, sea ice and forests. The President’s budget plan for NASA also secures continued implementation of the current set of seven systematic measurement missions and Earth System Science Pathfinder missions. All of these seven missions were endorsed by the Decadal Survey. Further, we will continue to fund operations and data production for NASA’s 14 Earth Science Missions currently in orbit.


OSTP has issued a press release.


Future Forums — Introduction by Shana


Last week I mentioned the Seattle Future Forum. I think it was very successful and was another step forward on the path to get out beyond our typical stomping grounds and talk about what NASA is doing with other parts of the United States. It was an extremely well-run event and the bar is now raised for the next Future Forum event in Columbus on February 21. I would like to extend my appreciation to the team who worked so diligently to make the Forum a success, including Bob Hopkins, Chief of Strategic Communications; Janet Kavandi, Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office; Jeff Hanley, Constellation Program Manager; Bonnie Dunbar, CEO of the Seattle Museum of Flight and her staff; Kristen Erickson, Deputy of the Office of Communications Planning (OCP); the OCP staff; Ames Research Center staff; and everyone else who worked on this event. I’ve asked Bob Hopkins to do a posting this week with more information about the Forum.


Future Forums by Bob Hopkins


Last Friday, NASA held its first Future Forum in Seattle at the Museum of Flight. The Seattle Future Forum was the template for the six more to come, so a great deal of planning and organization went into putting this first one together. The result was a great success for NASA, the Museum of Flight, Seattle and the State of Washington. We’re sure that it will serve as a successful formula as we hold these events in locations around the country. For more information on upcoming Future Forums visit


Future Forums are a series of one-day events that highlight the benefits of space exploration through the themes of Inspiration, Innovation and Discovery. These three themes that capture what NASA does and how our exciting missions benefit life here on Earth. Inspiring students to pursue science, engineering and math fields is critical to economic growth and global competitiveness. NASA helps drive U.S. innovation that, in turn, builds our economy. We are challenged to push the very limits of technology through the challenges our complex missions present and through this process we realize a variety of innovations. NASA’s pursuit of discovery pushes the extremes of science to answer fundamental questions about who we are and where we come from; to achieve a greater understanding of the universe; and to determine what is happening to the Earth’s climate and why.


The Future Forums offer a discussion of benefits derived from NASA’s work and exploration of space from a local, regional and state perspective. They also provide a venue to educate the public about the future of space exploration through a presentation on the Constellation program and the building of America‘s next generation of space-faring vehicles — Orion and Ares — that will replace the Shuttle and take us to the Moon, Mars and beyond.


The Seattle Future Forum, as they all will, relied heavily on our partners in the local area. The Museum of Flight in Seattle was our host. Under the direction of retired astronaut Bonnie Dunbar, the museum was a perfect venue and Bonnie’s team did a great job in getting the museum ready and supporting the event. We also had considerable support from other organizations in the community, including Google, Boeing, Raytheon, University of Washington, Washington Space Grant Consortium, and WSA – Washington‘s Technology Association. These partners played a critical role in making the event a success. We’re truly grateful for their contributions.


The agenda highlights included a presentation from astronaut Dr. Janet Kavandi, Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office at JSC, including a taped downlink from ISS Commander Peggy Whitson. Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley gave a presentation on the Constellation Program and Deputy Administrator Shana Dale gave the opening keynote speech. Shana’s speech discussed the Space Economy and NASA’s contributions to it through inspiration, innovation and discovery. Read Shana’s speech. You can view the Future Forum on video.


The themes of inspiration, innovation and discovery were also the themes for the panel sessions held during the day. The panel sessions included a mix of NASA officials and local leaders from business, academia and education. They included representatives from Google, Microsoft, Boeing, and prominent scientists such as Dr. Donald Brownlee from the University of Washington and the PI from the Stardust mission. We also had leaders from the education community including former astronaut Dr. George “Pinky” Nelson from Western Washington University and Dr. Bonnie Dunbar from the Museum of Flight. The full agenda can be found at


The enthusiasm of our panelists definitely seemed to influence the audience. Audience members were heavily engaged throughout the panel sessions, enabling a free flowing back and forth with panel members and a lively discussion ranging from the role of space flight in driving innovation to how NASA contributes to climate change and leveraging NASA’s unique mission to advance STEM education. The three themes of inspiration, innovation and discovery provided a useful framework for discussing NASA’s contributions to education, the economy and science. The theme that seemed to get the greatest attention throughout the day was inspiration. The STEM education issue and NASA’s ability to inspire students to pursue studies in science, engineering and math was the hot issue of the day, getting attention from every panel and sparking dialogue with the audience.


The Seattle event also included a luncheon keynote address from Lt. Governor Brad Owen. Deputy Administrator Dale was presented a proclamation from Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels honoring NASA’s 50th anniversary. While Governor Christine Gregoire was unable to attend the event due to conflicts, she was able to meet with Deputy Administrator Dale the afternoon before the event. The meeting provided a constructive dialogue that touched on areas of mutual interest including the role of innovation in driving a high-tech economy such as Washington State‘s, the importance of STEM education to sustain growth, the State’s thriving aerospace sector, and NASA’s contributions to enabling more sustainable management of the environment.


There was also considerable media coverage of the event as well as local interest in an exhibit arranged through NASA of a Mars meteorite in the Museum of Flight. Deputy Administrator Dale did live local interviews with a morning news program (Sorry for that early wake-up call, Shana), an editorial board meeting with the Seattle Times, an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a press conference, and the event featured a live broadcast by KOMO-4 News weather anchor Steve Pool.


Lastly, education was a key component of this event and all of the Future Forums. Teacher training and student activities were conducted the day before and the day of the event. In addition, NASA, along with its partners, arranged for 1,500 square feet of interactive exhibits on space exploration and science at the museum.


Bottom line — this was truly a team effort. I’d like to extend special thanks to folks (you know who you are) from the NASA Strategic Communications team, the Innovative Partnerships Program, all the Mission Directorates, the Office of the General Counsel and Ames Research Center for your dedication and hard work in making this a great event. And especially a big thanks to NASA leadership — Administrator Griffin and Deputy Administrator Dale — for enabling us to move forward with this idea and see it to fruition. This was a great start to a busy and exciting 50th Anniversary year. For more information on NASA’s 50th anniversary activities, please visit


Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management

I’ve mentioned the weekly mission support implementation meeting previously. This meeting presents an opportunity for those involved in the enduring, foundational issues of the agency to come together and discuss strategic issues (attendees include: Chief of Staff; Associate Deputy Administrator; Chief of Strategic Communications; Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer (CIO); Chief Engineer; Executive Director of NASA Shared Services Center; Associate/Assistant Administrators (AAs) for Institutions & Management, Human Capital Management, Infrastructure & Administration, Procurement, and Security; and the Director of the Office of Program and Institutional Integration, among others).

On Tuesday the CIO’s shop brought forward a discussion about “knowledge management.” This is an issue that other federal agencies, the corporate world, and non-profits are dealing with — how does an organization effectively manage not just the information flow but the knowledge that people gain from working in specific areas. Knowledge management is defined as, “Getting the right information to the right people at the right time, and helping people create knowledge and share and act upon information in ways that will measurably improve the performance of an organization and its partners.”

Knowledge management is extremely complex. This is a challenge that affects the entire agency, not just information technology. There are no easy solutions. The CIO and Office of the Chief Engineer (OCE) have commissioned a knowledge management team to coordinate knowledge management efforts across NASA. This team has representation from across the agency — from each Center, Mission Directorate, and from many mission support offices. The team has developed a roadmap to accomplish the goals delineated above. My hat is off to the CIO and OCE shops for leading the effort as they tackle the various components of this challenging issue.

Future Forum

I currently am in Seattle to kick off the first Future Forum. Here’s the concept behind the Future Forum — we plan to go to different locations around the nation that are not usually associated with aerospace and discuss with academic leaders; local, state, and federal officials; and business leaders what NASA means to their region of the world and to the nation more broadly.

I gave the keynote speech and it is posted on NASA’s website. After my talk, the program included a presentation from Astronaut Janet Kavandi, Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office at Johnson Space Center, followed by a presentation on the next phase in space exploration by NASA Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley. The day then unfolded into three panels on innovation, discovery and inspiration. Innovation focused on the past and future impacts of NASA and space exploration on economic competitiveness and technology development. Discovery focused on how NASA science and research has led to greater knowledge and understanding of the universe and has provided critical information about our own planet and how to manage and protect it. Inspiration is geared towards education with a focus on STEM education and the NASA’s unique ability to inspire students to pursue studies in science, engineering and math. The panels included NASA officials and leaders from the Seattle business, academic and educational communities.

I met with the Governor of Washington Thursday night. On Friday I sat in on the Future Forum. I also did quite a bit of media outreach as a part of this Future Forum. Press opportunities include a meeting with the Seattle Times editorial board as well as print, radio and television interviews. There was also a press conference with Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, Museum of Flight President and CEO; Jeff Hanley; and Janet Kavandi. Bonnie Dunbar is a former NASA astronaut who flew on five Space Shuttle missions and logged 1,208 hours — over 50 days — in space. In addition to hosting the event, Bonnie opened the Future Forum and chaired the inspiration panel. I want to thank Bonnie and her team at Museum of Flight for hosting the event. We could not have done this without their invaluable support.

The ultimate goal is to get the discussion rolling in areas beyond our traditional aerospace presence and re-connecting with the American public and with business and academic leaders and state and local officials. The next Future Forum is scheduled to occur in Columbus, Ohio in February.

Cool Transportation Technologies

I received a comment clarifying that the article, “Cool Transportation Technologies,” should include the great work that Glenn Research Center is doing in de-icing research. This article has been revised and you can find it at: