Exploration: September 2005 Archives

Science comes second as NASA makes lunar plans, Nature (subscription)

"The current focus on hardware and site selection - engineering rather than science - worries some researchers. "My immediate reaction was: 'So what are they going to do on the Moon? Where's the beef?'" says Wesley Huntress, a former NASA science chief now with the Carnegie Institution of Washington."

Horowitz is the New ESMD AA

Scott Horowitz Named to Lead NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin today named veteran space shuttle commander Scott J. Horowitz as associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Griffin also appointed longtime NASA engineer Doug Cooke as deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate."

NASA's Greatest Challenge - Harder Than Climbing Any Mountain, SpaceRef

"If NASA wants to reconnect with the public and enjoy enhanced public and political support, NASA needs to work to bring people along to a new appreciation of what space exploration is really about - but this has to be done with society's viewpoint as a starting point - not NASA's."

Editor's note: This story is in response to NASA's Griffin: 'Humans Will Colonize the Solar System' which appeared in Sunday's Washington Post.

Bigger (Earthly) concerns, editorial, LA Times

"Given these more urgent concerns, cost overruns on a NASA project of dubious scientific value should not be tolerated. If that means delays, so be it. The moon is creeping away from Earth at a rate of only 3.8 centimeters per year; it'll still be around if we can't get there by 2020."

Worth the cost Our position: NASA has a good plan to sell but blundered badly in timing, editorial, Orlando Sentinel

"It might be tempting in the current budget environment for members to save money by rejecting NASA's plan. But America ultimately would be poorer for it."

ESAS Update

NASA outlines job shifts to prep for moon, Huntsville Times

"About 400 people work in the three offices now, and none of Marshall's 2,400 jobs will be lost, but some employees' work will change, King said. King told employees in a center-wide televised address that NASA and Marshall workers will have to be flexible to support the new space exploration program. "There is a need for folks to move around and maybe do things they haven't done before."

MSFC All Hands Friday

Center Director Dave King will hold a Marshall Update for employees Friday at 9 a.m. in Morris Auditorium.

The Dark Side of the Moon, Op Ed by Bob Park, NY Times

"Two mechanical geologists, Spirit and Opportunity, are doing this even now, by searching for evidence of water on opposite sides of Mars. They don't break for lunch or complain about the cold nights, and they live on sunshine. They've been at it for nearly two years, yet their mission costs less than sending a shuttle to the International Space Station. The brains of Spirit and Opportunity are the brains of geologists back on Earth." ... "Few scientists are calling for a human mission to the Moon or Mars. Human space exploration is essentially over."

Editor's note: Once again Bob Park crawls out of his intellectual crypt to dump on human spaceflight. As is always the case, Bob shoves out his ossified examples without fully researching them - and hurls them forth as if they were absolute statements of what entire segments of the space research community - and the public - feels. Were he to have bothered to ask the Mars Exploration Rover PI, Steve Squyres, what he thinks about having humans on Mars, a large hole would be blown in Park's argument. Surely such an opinion would carry some merit. But again, Bob is lazy when it comes to presenting the facts. Here is what Sqyures said exactly one year ago on this topic at the "Risk and Exploration Symposium" in Monterey:

"And when I hear people point to Spirit and Opportunity and say that these are examples of why we don't need to send humans to Mars, I get very upset. Because that's not even the right discussion to be having. We must send humans to Mars. We can't do it soon enough for me. You know, I'm a robot guy. I mean, I love Spirit and Opportunity - and I use a word like "love" very advisedly when talking about a hunk of metal.

But I love those machines. I miss them. I do. But they will never, ever have the capabilities that humans will have and I sure hope you send people soon."

Read Squyres' full commentary

Move Aside

Silicon Insider: Orphans Preferred - NASA Must Evolve for Next Generation Space Missions, ABC News

"This next great Era of Exploration will be directed by Baby Boomers, run by Gen X-ers, and its greatest heroes are probably right now sitting in second grade class in Boise, Bangalore and Beijing. The first generation defined itself by its contempt for big organizations, the second by its indifference, and the third thinks Mommy and her laptop go to work at Starbucks."

Editor's note: Looking at the media coverage NASA has been getting in response to its recently launched Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS), you'd think no one was in complete command in planning the rollout - other than the computer graphics folks.

The message that has now been interpreted - and circulated - by the media is "let's send a few people back to the moon because we can - and do something we did before - and spend 50% of what we need to spend on hurricane damage." The only "why" NASA has offered is "because the President told us to."

Mainstream Media on ESAS

Boehlert: NASA won't get "blank check" for new moon mission, WSTM.com

"[House Science Committee Chair] Boehlert says the space agency's current schedule for a return to the moon may have to be adjusted because of budget constraints."

A Medium Leap to the Moon, Time

"... A contemporary program with a 13-year deadline is precisely the kind of undertaking that can be frittered into nothing if future administrations lose the interest or the revenue to keep pursuing it." -- "... the new proposal is ostensibly part of the Bush administration's grand moon-Mars initiative announced in early 2004. But Mars is not mentioned anywhere in the plans. Nor is the science the crews would perform once they get to the moon."

2005 Summary and Explanation of Offsets - "Operation Offset", Republican Study Committee (PDF)

Page 8: "Cancel NASA's New Moon/Mars Initiative - In 2004, the President announced a new initiative to explore the Moon and Mars with the goal of returning humans to the Moon by 2020. NASA currently intends to use the savings from phasing out the space shuttle in 2012 to fund this program. Savings: $44 billion over ten years ($11.5 billion over five years)"

Lawmakers Prepare Plans to Finance Storm Relief, NY Times

"The list also proposed eliminating the Moon-Mars initiative that NASA announced on Monday ..."

ESAS Transcript

NASA News Conference With Mike Griffin: Exploration Systems Architecture Study (Transcript)

"The President has said not later than 2020 for human lunar return. Our internal planning goal at this point is 2018. Again, that date will be driven by the availability of funds. But if you've heard a rumor that I've asked for extra money for this exploration architecture, that would not be correct."

Editor's note: However, NASA has requested billions in additional funds for Shuttle (RTF), ISS, and Hubble from OMB.

ESAS Reaction

- Space Foundation comments on NASA's Exploration Systems Architecture Study
- Rep. Boehlert Statement on NASA's Exploration Architecture Plan
- Rep. Calvert Welcomes New NASA Exploration Architecture
- NSS: NASA sets out an inspiring, affordable path for future exploration
- Sen. Hutchison's Statement on NASA Exploration Systems Architecture Study

A retro look to next US spacecraft, Christian Science Monitor

"Still, NASA seems to be taking a minimalist approach, says Keith Cowing of NASAWatch, a website that tracks the agency's developments. "This is pretty conservative. There are no plans for a big moon base. It's almost like we're trying to prove we can still do it."

NASA Revives Apollo - While Starving Space Life Science, SpaceRef

"At one point Griffin made a point of saying that science will not be cut in order to fund implementation of the VSE. "It is not about taking money from the science program - or the aeronautics program in order to fund manned space flight. It is about utilizing the money that we have to achieve different - and I think - far more exciting goals - in human spaceflight." He said. A few minutes later he repeated that statement adding that in his plans "we do not take one thin dime" out of science. These statements are in clear conflict with recent events. A hundred or more contractors working on life science activities at ARC have been laid off in past weeks.."


Moon plan likely boost for MSFC, Huntsville Times

"I'd say there will be no closing of a field center," Cowing said. "You may have work shifted around some, and work at one center could appear at another center, but no major moves will be made." That also means no major spending will be seen at centers to build facilities not tied to the moon program, Cowing said.(NASA Administrator) Mike Griffin knows what he wants," Cowing said. "There's not going to be a big call for redundancy in this program. If it doesn't directly support (NASA goals), then I don't think it will happen."

Editor's 16 Sep update: The public rollout will be monday at 11:00 am at NASA HQ.

NASA Office of Legislative Affairs Memo: Exploration Systems Architecture Study Briefing

"We appreciate your patience over the last few months and would like to offer the opportunity to provide you with a briefing on the ESAS. On Monday, September 19th at 9:00 a.m., NASA will provide a 1 hour briefing on the ESAS results."

Editor's 15 Sep update: Various organizations have had all hands meetings at NASA HQ today. The White House has approved NASA's ESAS and it will be unveiled publicly on Monday at NASA HQ. As to what it will look like: think Apollo - both for what it will feature - and what it will not feature - as well as how things will look- and how they will work. Mars is only a footnote - a distant one at that.

GSFC Cancels LRO Propulsion RFP

Modification to a Previous NASA GSFC Notice: Propulsion Subsystem for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Project

"Due to schedule constraints and cost savings, NASA/GSFC has determined to cancel our plans to issue Request for Proposal (RFP) NNG05121636R for the Propulsion Subsystem for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Project office under the Robotic Lunar Exploration Program."


Editor's note: Today's hot rumor at NASA HQ is that former astronaut Scott Horowitz will be the new ESMD AA. Stay tuned.

Prometheus Continues to Shrink

Man-on-Mars goal clips Knolls project, Times Union

"KAPL employees were told late last week that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was ending the $65 million program to develop a nuclear-electric propulsion system as it reorders its priorities."

Editor's note: NASA HQ management has directed that the ESMD logo no longer be used for official purposes. The NASA meatball logo is to be used instead.

Editor's note: Details of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) reorganization are now circulating at NASA Headquarters.

ESAS Overview Charts

NASA Exploration Systems Architecture Study Overview Charts

Editor's note: These charts were part of a series of internal presentations made at NASA during June 2005 on the progress of the Exploration Systems Architecture Study.

ESAS Budget Projections

NASA Exploration Systems Architecture Study: Reference Architecture Budget Projection

Editor's note: This chart was part of a series of internal presentations made at NASA during June 2005 on the progress of the Exploration Systems Architecture Study.

Editor's note: Go to this image gallery at JSC. Pick an image category - and an image at random. Attached to the image caption will be a caveat that has been in place since the Clinton Adminstration kept a lid on NASA's human exploration yearnings. Often times the caveat is longer than the image caption itself!

"Note: NASA currently has no formal plans for a human expedition to Mars or the Moon. This image and others displayed may not reflect the hardware and overall concept of possible visits to either of those celestial bodies. However, the art work represented here serves as a comprehensive study of various concepts and ideas developed as possibilities over a period of years."

Now that NASA has the VSE, indeed, as Mike Griffin seeks to accelerate it, why is this silly verbiage still on line? It would seem to be sending exactly the opposite message than NASA is implementing.



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