AIAA Space Exploration Conference Update

Editor's note: The second day of the conference is now underway. Updates below.

The day opened with more podcast contest entries. Audience members have been given electronic voting devices. And to be certain even the dead can hear the audio on these podcasts, the meeting planners play them at 120 decibels. Update: "Space Telemedicine in our Future" just won a free iPod.

Doug Cooke's panel is walking on the stage.

Jeff Volosin and Tony Lavoie are the two panelists.

Cooke is going through a standard recitation of why we explore, why go back to the Moon, etc. It is fine for NASA folks do this once or twice at a meeting of the faithful (such as this), but I have to wonder why NASA folks feel compelled to spend so much time on this with an audience that is already convinced - except, perhaps, to serve as cheerleaders, I suppose. This is the fourth time the VSE story has been old here.

Jeff Volosin is up next. Speaking in a clear and enthusiastic fashion, he mentioned how NASA has tried to broaden the effort to include as many ideas as possible. "We have been thinking about this since Apollo." He said. This led to a meeting in January 2006 wherein there was an attempt to be inclusive - at Mike Griffin's direction.

Two questions were to be asked - and answered: Why go back to the Moon? What do we hope to accomplish through lunar exploration?

Volosin spoke of the multiple workshops - composed of over 2,000 people from around the world. Six major themes arose. To illustrate these themes, Volosin played some short video clips apparently designed for the website. Each person's comments are backed up by loud music, which detracts from their words (in my opinion).

These themes are: 1. Using the Moon to prepare to go to Mars. 2 Going back to the Moon to learn. 3. Expansion of human presence to the Moon. 4. The moon offers new resources for our society and economy. 5. Advance peaceful international cooperation. 6. Public engagement.

Tony Lavoie is speaking now. He opened by making sure everyone knew that these architectural depictions in the fancy graphics were "notional" (NASA's favorite word to make sure they can wiggle out of something later), "points of departure", "Point in the sand" a "Point at which to engage" etc. This is one of NASA's odd habits - on one hand they wave this new architecture around so as to demonstrate to the external world that they have done something and that they can make decisions - and then they turn around and warn people that what they see on the screen (to illustrate the very same architecture) is not what they may get. Hardly what you do to inspire confidence among external observers.

Lavoie said that the science group they assembled did not have the ability to do a full analysis - but that they did the best that they could.

Lavoie mentioned the selection criteria for lunar base site selection - the poles - nearly constant light, water ice resources, etc.

Lavoie showed a chart of a "notional" lunar base on the rim of Shackelton crater. Once again he warned people that this was "notional" and again. He then described the map of the "notional base itself and then proclaimed "We are going metric on the moon".

The "notional" lander has been maximized to bring payload to the moon and leave it there when you leave.

At this point it became clear that Lavoie is incapable of speaking publicly on his topic without using the terms "notional" or "point of departure" or "cartoon" in every third sentence.

Lavoie then went on to discuss some "notional" power, communications, life support, transport ideas. One thing he mentioned a lot was ISRU - in situ resource utilization.

Doug Cooke is speaking again.

"We are going to pursue human lunar missions to build an outpost at a lunar site." Article in newspapers talk about settlement and colonies. We are working toward building this :"outpost". I think interest outside of NASA is what will be required to go beyond that. We do not necessarily have the charter to go the full distance. Although we are talking about an outpost, we will preserve the ability to go elsewhere on the lunar surface.

In 2007 we will begin work on a Mars architecture to make certain that we understand what the linkages are (between(lunar and Martian exploration).


Session on Constellation. Opening by a video featuring Gene Kranz and some overly loud background music which often drowned out what he was saying.

Session starting with Skip Hadfield Orion project manager, Cleon Lacefield, Tip Talone, NASA KSC, Steve Cooke Ares project manager, Mike Kahn manager of first stage development at ATK, and Steve Bolley (sp) at Pratt and Whitney.

Hadfield is first giving an Orion overview and a status of testing and facilities development to date. He showed some abort motor test firing footage, shots of a facility about to be handed over at KSC in the O&C Building, and various landing tests for the CEV itself.

Lacefield then gave a presentation on the Lockheed Orion contractor team.

Steve Cook then gave an Ares update. He said that the Ares I and V are better than EELVs in meeting NASA's needs. When we say shuttle-derived - we are talking about more than hardware we are talking about a workforce that understands how to put large space systems together.

Said that CBO agreed with NASA's cost estimates.

ESAS further widened the gap between CLV and EELVs. Development money spent on Ares I is a direct down payment on Ares V.

Aries I will put 22 mt to LEO plus a 15% margin Ares V will put 130 mt into LEO and will throw 65 mt to the moon.


Afternoon session. Opening act: more podcasts using robot voices and loud music. "Robotics in the Future" is the winner.

Pete Worden's panel is beginning on the future and sustainability of the VSE.

Panelist Jeff Carr with USA started off. Carr works on the Coalition for Space Exploration. "VSE is the right thing for our industry, our nation, and for future generations. The Coalition seeks to broaden the public's knowledge of the VSE

Peggy Finarelli from GMU: organized a workshop with Ian Pryke this summer at GMU on constituency building for space exploration. Looked at market research data from Dittmar Associates. Gallup data is very positive - but we have come to realize that it reports results across all generations. Apollo generation response in the poll swamps the response from the younger crowd. In the 18-24 crowd - 45% of that age group is unaware of the VSE. Their support for Moon exploration is very slim - 2/3 are neutral or disinterested. Opposition to humans going to Mars - 3 out of 4 oppose this. Space exploration is not exciting the youth of today. Jobs and relationships and war more relevant. "We do not know why we want to go there (space) when we are so screwed up here" the yoften say. 27% of the group doubts that we even landed on the moon! 39% of those in this age group polled by Dittmar Associates think nothing useful has come out of NASA and 72% think that NASA money would be better spent elsewhere.

Next speaker is a Juliane Sullivan, a consultant - was former Rep. Delay's policy staffer in previous job. She worked with Administration to sell VSE on the Hill. She proceeded to mildly vilify the Democrats vis a vis NASA's road ahead in Congress.

Klaus Heiss was next. Heiss looked back at previous efforts to get a robust exploration policy and then looked ahead at the chances for the VSE. He lamented the lack of media attention and the ability for the space program to tackle problems on Earth. Young people do not know the true extent of the investment in space communications. Feels that space programs need to be market-driven - not agency driven.

The panel then began a discussion of the public's perception of space. I stopped blogging at this point so as to pay more attention to - and then participate in - the discussion.

  • submit to reddit


Join our mailing list

Commercialization: Monthly Archives

Monthly Archives

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on December 6, 2006 2:14 PM.

Oozing on Mars was the previous entry in this blog.

Weather Threatens STS-116 Launch is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.