back to article NASA's free research trove may have broken arms trafficking rules

Last week, NASA announced that all of its published research would be aggregated into a single portal and published for free. Now, according to Space News, some NASA research has had to be pulled from the Web because the agency fears it might violate export controls. The research in question represented outputs from the NASA …

  1. stizzleswick

    I read in the article that NASA was aggregating "[...]all of its published research[...]"

    So, if the research was previously published, how can aggregating it in one place (which constitutes not a new publication, but a mere convenience for other researchers) be in breach of regulations? The original publications would have been in breach already in that case, but this is not mentioned to be the case here. Can anybody enlighten me?

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Indeed. Almost as though American security services are full of paranoid twats.

      Way to be even more of a dick than usual, guys.

      1. Marshalltown

        ' "Indeed. Almost as though American security services are full of paranoid twats."

        Way to be even more of a dick than usual, guys.'

        But true none the less. It is what they are paid to be. So, they are also paid to leave the "feelings" at home. Quit the trembling lip bit.

    2. Velv

      There are closed communities where items can be published amongst peers

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    NASA: past its sell-by date

    I have a bunch of rocketry/space books from the '50s-'70s and they're fascinating. They get into the nitty-gritty of rocket engines, navigation, life support, nuclear propulsion, inertial measurement units, star trackers, fuel cells, turbopumps, etc.

    Read a space book today and it's pablum. Not much more than an expensive doorstop. Mostly because all the interesting stuff is illegal to print.

    1. Gray

      Re: NASA: past its sell-by date

      They'd reveal just which content was an ITAR violation, but that remains classified.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NASA: past its sell-by date

      I've got Eagle Annuals that are well illegal these days. And as an adult with a solid half-century of not stabbing anybody I am not allowed to carry the pocketknife that was perfectly fine to have in school aged 12.

      When did we become such a bunch of total pussies?

      Well, I say we, but I mean you. My pocketknife is 5mm-worth of illegal just on general principles.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: NASA: past its sell-by date

        Mines just about about legal but only because it needs two hands to open and lock the blade....

        As for illegal books, I got handed down some books for boys when I was a lad that included ballistic calculations and how to make explosives (fun fireworks they said.... use a loo roll tube it instructed..... left a hell of a hole in the garden I'll tell you), as well as how to kill and skin multiple animals for pleasure/food.

        Wholesome fun eh? How times change.

        1. DwarfPants

          Re: NASA: past its sell-by date

          Locking blade! not without a good reason sonny. Oh! in a non-public location, carry on as you were

          1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

            Re: NASA: past its sell-by date

            In fairness they still sell very similar models (though not my exact model) still with the locking blades, thought it's considered a 'large pocket knife' now.

            And yes, It's generally only brought out for camping and bbq's... (i'm rather fond of it so i'd rather not give the plod reason to liberate me of it)

            1. Wommit

              Re: NASA: past its sell-by date

              " (i'm rather fond of it so i'd rather not give the plod reason to liberate me of it)"

              Oh, so you think that the plod needs a reason to 'liberate' it off you?

              How naive.

              1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

                Re: NASA: past its sell-by date

                Kind of, yes... the plod round here are generally quite decent (at least the ones on the ground are) and generally have good relations with the communities they serve (think one of the larger northern cities that didn't have riots in 2011 despite having large numbers of residents from different ethnic groups... the city centre was an odd place to live at the time since just about everybody was waiting for something to happen).

                1. Marshalltown

                  Re: NASA: past its sell-by date

                  Here in the US, in most places, school-age kids are not supposed to carry pocket knives ever while at school. One Christmas gift exchange (Second Grade - so I would have been about six) I received pocket knife, a genuine "Davy Crockett," Barlow style, single bladed, pocket knife. The teacher did not immediately confiscate it. She told me I was not to carry it at school. I then carried it home. My dad taught me how to sharpen it on an oil stone and I thence forth completely ignored any injunctions about when and where I could carry it.

                  I never spent a day without a knife in my pocket until after 9/11 lead to the stupid, idiotic restrictions we now see these days. In fact, most of my teachers must have been aware I had one on me - the shape in my pocket was a dead give-away - and more than once over the years a teacher asked to use it, and I let them without loss of my knife. Thinking about it, the teachers borrowing it usually happened in class, and despite a fair number of brown-nosing tattle tales, I never got in trouble about it.

                  These days I carry a three-bladed "stockman" style and use it as a marking knife in the wood shop.

        2. Marshalltown

          Re: NASA: past its sell-by date


          My son and I sat down when he was in high school here in the US and went over things I could do that he couldn't, things my dad could do that I could not, and then looked through books my dad grew up reading whose characters were doing things HE couldn't - children's books always lag the present by at least a generation. Basically, doing things that my grandfather - in Canada - could get away with would have gotten me in serious trouble with my parents, and my son a term in juvenile jail, even if I and my wife thought it was not that big a deal.

          The acts themselves weren't any worse, but the social environment is far more restricted.

          Chemistry at home? Heaven forfend, you could accidentally make something hazardous, toxic, or explosive through an error in mixing. Even BUYING chemistry lab supplies like glassware gets you on DHS and DEA lists these days. My dad actually kept black powder around the ranch for stump and boulder removal and my brother and I were instructed in its use for those various other purposes that did not include muzzle loaders - though we did that too.

          Shooting? Well, that's generally a little less restricted in parts the US, but there are lots of citizens desperately anxious to catch up with the <irony on> progressive </irony off> UK. I used to go out hunting spring jackrabbits - good eating prepared properly - but these days, development has foreclosed on that - too many neighbors, dogs, livestock - three horses on half an acre looks cruel to me, and the same for cattle. The local vegetarians an vegans will actually try to educate me on the evolution of the human species. I have a degree in that, and they are more ignorant about the topic than a day in the arctic summer is long but they really don't want to hear it.

          Knives,? Arguably, from what I hear and read, the UK might be rather aichmophobic and even more reactionary to knives and things that can cut than to firearms. Is it really true a carpet layer did a prison term for leaving a carpet knife - a tool of his trade - visible in his vehicle?

    3. Captain DaFt

      Re: NASA: past its sell-by date

      "Read a space book today and it's pablum."

      I dunno, this site: is a pretty good read, discusses a lot of rocket theory and practicality.

      (Scroll straight down to the bottom to get to the actual links. They push their Patreon pretty hard.)

    4. Baldy50

      Re: NASA: past its sell-by date

      Well at least you don't have to pa JSTOR for them.

    5. Corrine

      Re: NASA: past its sell-by date

      A modern copy of Rocket Propulsion Elements has all of that. The problem isn't that its illegal to print, its that doorstops are what consumers buy.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NASA: past its sell-by date

      Some space books that are far from pap are still available, and a jolly good read.


  3. Eddy Ito

    ITAR as a whole needs to go. It's forty year old legislation that hasn't even tried to keep up and was enacted as part of the Cold War. At this point it's just a hindrance to everyone and does absolutely nothing to keep people safer. It's the big club that Uncle Sam uses to slap down innovative folks from security researchers and cryptography experts to academics and backyard boffins who might actually make something great if it weren't illegal or require hefty fees and licenses. The Cold War has been over for quite some time and ITAR doesn't stop terrorists from shopping outside the U.S. Hell, it's main feature is that it inhibits U.S. companies from hiring competent people while simultaneously limiting the employment opportunities of those same competent people. It's time to let ITAR slip beneath the waves and move on.

  4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    I'd still like to know what the paper in question was about.

    1. stizzleswick

      But that would, most likely, be illegal to print. Or at least certain people in the U.S. would say so, whether they have a legal basis to stand on or not.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is a $20M fine heading NASA's way?

    Somehow I doubt it, yet $20M was the fine levied on General Dynamics for the "crime" of having purchased the military vehicle manufacturing arm of General Motors and not noticing that dual nationals had access to, but had not accessed, ITAR information.

    NASA will, I suspect, escape with no more than a scolding.

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