The Artemis Generation Will Need New Skills To Explore New Worlds

Rock Climbing Destination Seneca Rocks, West Virginia Viewed By A Climber In Space, SpaceRef

"Christina H Koch @Astro_Christina "The famous knife edge of Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, from the @Space_Station. This rock formation is where I first learned traditional lead-style rock climbing and gained the confidence and teamwork skills that I continue to rely on every day."

Taking In The View From Wharton Ridge, SpaceRef

"Bob was an astrobiologist before the word had even been coined. He was an adventurer and a jack of all trades. Among other things, he spent a lot of time diving under Antarctic ice and roaming the dry valleys of Antarctica with Chris McKay and Dale Andersen. ... Bob was an avid climber and mountaineer and we went rock climbing a bunch of times mostly in the immediate DC area. One trip in particular, to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, on a stunning day (1 September 1991 to be exact) is etched into my mind. It was such a classic rock climbing day."

From Cavewalking To Spacewalking, ESA

"It might not be obvious, but there are many similarities between working deep underground and in outer space. Just as with spacewalks, underground 'cavewalks' require safety tethering, 3D orientation, careful planning and teamwork. Cave explorers need to stay alert in an environment where they are deprived of natural light and every move is a step into the unknown. ESA's CAVES training course has been taking astronauts below Earth's surface and prepared them to work safely in an environment where the terrain, climate and climbing techniques pose high demands."

My Star Trek Episode at Everest, SpaceRef

"My job was to stay at Everest Base Camp (analogous to working aboard the space station/space shuttle - or an Apollo Command Module in lunar orbit) and relay news of Scott's climb (his EVA, if you will) while he ventured forth into the so-called "death zone" on Everest. His goal: being able to see an orbital sunrise - on Earth. Back home our mission support was provided by seasoned CNN journalist and almost-astronaut Miles O'Brien. Meanwhile another friend, astronaut John Grunsfeld (also a mountaineer) would spend several weeks in orbit fixing Hubble while Scott and I were at Everest."

Keith's note: If you look at Christina's photo you can see the ridge at Seneca Rocks that I climbed with my late friend Bob Wharton - from orbit. There's a ridge named after Bob on Mars - you can see that from orbit too. A piece of the Moon went to Everest with my friend Scott. It is now in orbit on the ISS with a piece of the summit of Everest. Christina sought out her rock climbing origins - from orbit.

The people who will visit other worlds will need skills not usually associated with astronauts. Some of the newer astronauts have them. Many of the Apollo astronauts had them. More astronauts with these skills are needed if NASA is truly going to explore the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

For the past 30 years no American astronaut has needed any real exploration skills on ISS. They just pushed buttons and sometimes did EVAs. Exploring other worlds - in person - requires a skillset that is mostly absent at NASA.Yes, NASA did NEEMO and Desert RATS, but these things are done on a shoestring. Nothing akin to Apollo training is going on. Planning to explore other worlds in person also requires an expeditionary mindset that is also mostly absent - except for the people who drive robots from JPL. It would be wrong to repeat Apollo but it would be wise to emulate how they did it. They sent explorers to explore. Calling each new ISS crew another "expedition" has always baffled me since they just go in circles. They do not actually go anywhere.

Keith's update: By coincidence this came out onTuesday. Let me dial back my statement a bit about no one having expeditionary expertise.

NASA Administrator, Astronaut Candidate to Visit University of North Carolina

"As an undergraduate researcher - and later a master's student - in Marine Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill, Cardman studied microorganisms in subsurface environments, ranging from caves to deep sea sediments. Cardman's field experience includes multiple Antarctic expeditions, work aboard research vessels, and NASA analog missions in British Columbia, Idaho, and Hawaii. Cardman was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class and reported for duty in August 2017. After completing her training, Cardman will be assigned technical duties in the NASA Astronaut Office while she awaits a flight assignment."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on October 29, 2019 3:22 PM.

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