One of the more useful and interesting resources for aerospace researchers and historians has been the NASA Technical Report Server. Millions of documents available for download. But now, it seems, a Chinese spy has ruined it for everyone. Pull up NTRS now, and you see:

Until further notice,
the NTRS system will be unavailable for public access.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and anticipate that this site will return to service in the near future.

What’s the cause of this? It’s not certain, but it’s a safe bet that just-arrested alleged Chinese spy Bo Jiang was at the heart of this. SpaceRef.com has some interesting and depressing info:

Washington, D.C. (March 18, 2013) – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, today held a press conference revealing a significant new development concerning a Chinese national allegedly involved in security violations at several NASA centers.

NASA should immediately take down all publicly available technical data sources until all documents that have not been subjected to export control review have received such a review and all controlled documents are removed from the system.

Arrrgh.

It’s hard to see how a spy would have made use of NTRS. Did he upload sensitive documents for the world to see? Seems unlikely. Did he download stuff from there he shouldn’t have? Hard to imagine much on NTRS that would have been of concern… plus, it was available to anyone on the planet with an internet connection. I suspect China had downloaded everything on NTRS and has their own backup of the archive.

  • Jordan

    An example of more congressional idiocy. Once the information is out there shutting down a website isn’t going to do anything.

  • Graham

    Good Grief! The last time I visited the NTRS there was a note stating that they were going to upgrade the site in some fashion.

    Nothing on that site was ‘Top Secret’, that which had was declassified years ago.

  • sferrin

    Wonder how long before they remember DTIC and it goes too.

  • Desktopsimmer

    It will take years to check the data to see if it’s ‘okay’ for export.
    For the last 5-10 years I’ve seen a gradual erosion of NASA hosting good Historical technical data online. Most is already declassified or already in the public arena.

    This maybe my inner tin-foil hat, but is the historical data that was freely available being re-licensed to the private sector in order to make a quick buck?

  • Alexander Vollmer

    At first, there are a million NTRS pages available in the Google cache … not many graphics, but most of the text. Absurdity in its finest.

  • Michael the Somewhat Civilized

    Is it significant that this happens right when the Chinese are needed to control the North Koreans?

  • Dave Spain

    More feel-good security theater. The only folks being restricted are US citizens in the commercial and private sector. Anything of value likely has been downloaded long ago.

  • xvdougl

    Thanks for saving us poor common folk again guvermet!

  • Aaron Harper

    Sooo… in an effort to block Chinese access to American scientific data and cold war Russian info, they block access to the information to American aerospace students like myself as well as American companies. This ensures foreign superiority in space. Way to go. We have learned nothing in the last 60 years. McCarthyism is the reason we were second in space, and second to orbit.

    • Anonymous

      McCarthyism? I have doubts that the reason why Eisenhower told the Army Ballistic Missile Agency to not launch a payload into orbit ahead of the civilian Vangaurd program was because there weren’t enough communists in the White House.

  • Desktopsimmer

    Thankfully Scott has a document I’ve been looking. Purchased and downloaded :)

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