Exploration: October 2005 Archives

Further Details Emerge Regarding NASA's Cancellation of Human and Robotic Technology (H&RT) Research Projects

"NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate has decided to cancel 29 out of 51 Human and Robotic Technology (H&RT) research projects selected in 2004."

NASA Internal Memo: NASA Realigns Research and Technology to Accelerate CEV/CLV (contains detailed budget reduction charts)

"As NASA concentrates the use of the Shuttle on ISS assembly, some ISS utilization will be deferred. As a result, transitional action is being taken now to reduce and/or discontinue approximately 34 contracts and activities previously planned at $344 million in FY 2006. After termination costs and buyouts, these actions will yield $243 million in FY 2006 that will be applied toward accelerating the CEV and CLV."

Editor's note: I love it when people at NASA use the word "deferred" because they don't have the courage to say that something is being "cancelled." With these actions, NASA is walking away from a substantial portion of its ISS research portfolio - a portfolio it has been using to justify the space station itself for decades.

The debate over ESAS, Space Review (comments delivered 21 Oct 2005)

"Zubrin argued that this complexity is a result of the compromise nature of the Vision, one that puts off development of the heavy-lift launcher until 2011, after the shuttle is retired, as well as use of shuttle-derived components to support the shuttle's existing industrial base. "The policy is irrational because it is a compromise," he said. "In other words, this policy sucks."

Bad History at NASA

Editor's 24 Oct note: According to this image caption on the LRO website: "Robert Rauschenberg's "Stoned Moon" series created after invited to Apollo 11 launch in 1968.".

It is bad enough that some people don't think that America put astronauts on the lunar surface in 1969. Now, NASA itself can't even get the year straight on a website dedicated to a mission associated with the eventual return of humans to the moon. This error was pointed out (by others) a month ago to the people in charge of this website - but they don't seem to care enough to fix it.

Editor's 25 Oct note: This error has now been fixed. What is annoying is the fact that two individuals have told me that they alerted the NASA people responsible for this website about this specifc error - and received assurances that it would be fixed - a month ago. Alas, nothing happened until I used my bullhorn last night - and then - magically - it was fixed in a few hours. NASA's websites are its public face and they should be fixed when errors are pointed out - regardless of who does the pointing - not just when errors are pointed out in a public, embarassing way, as I have done.

Capabilities to enable Space Exploration, ESMD

"The capabilities that comprise Constellation Systems will evolve over time, based on exploration goals, budgetary priorities, and analyses of cost, benefits, and risks. This evolution will take place in stages or "spirals" that will allow NASA greater flexibility in meeting its exploration objectives."

House Science Committee Hearing "The Future of NASA" (Complete transcript)

"GRIFFIN: You asked, what we will be doing different. First of all, I hope never again to let the words spiral development cross my lips. (LAUGHTER) That is an approach to acquisition for large systems very relevant to DOD acquisition requirements, but I have not seen the relevance to NASA and I have preferred a much more direct approach, and that is what we will be recommending and implementing."

Editor's 25 Oct note: Gee, that was fast! After languishing unnoticed all these months, the politically incorrect text has been removed and replaced with acceptable verbiage. The following is what was previously on that page:

The debate over ESAS, Space Review

"Zubrin argued that this complexity is a result of the compromise nature of the Vision, one that puts off development of the heavy-lift launcher until 2011, after the shuttle is retired, as well as use of shuttle-derived components to support the shuttle's existing industrial base. "The policy is irrational because it is a compromise," he said. "In other words, this policy sucks."

"The Vision for Space Exploration as currently enacted is a dead end, and some may even call it a ruse" said Foundation co-founder Rick Tumlinson in a talk immediately following Zubrin's at the conference Friday."

Editor's note: The fact that these guys, who often speak from idelogical extremes, don't like the ESAS probably means that NASA has actually chosen a reasonable middle ground upon which to proceed.

CEV Selection Delayed

Editor's note: Contractors were told today by NASA that the CEV selection is being delayed - until late Spring/early summer 2006 - most likely June. Stay tuned.

NASA's Hubble Looks for Possible Moon Resources

"Hubble's resolution and sensitivity to ultraviolet light have allowed the telescope to search for important oxygen-bearing minerals on the moon. Since the moon does not have a breathable atmosphere, minerals, such as ilmenite (titanium and iron oxide), may be critical for a sustained human lunar presence. Ilmenite is a potential source of oxygen for breathing or to power rockets."

NASA's Hubble Reveals Moon's Secrets (with additional background material)

"NASA hosts a news conference at 1 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, Oct. 19, to discuss new Hubble Space Telescope images of the moon's surface in ultraviolet light. The press conference is in NASA's auditorium, 300 E Street S.W., Washington."

Why Is Hubble Looking at Apollo Landing Sites?, 18 August 2005, NASA Watch

Griffin Seeks to Break Shuttle Blockade of Moon-Mars Exploration, Offical Mars Society Rant by Bob Zubrin

"Set the goal, and go for it: Moon by 2012, Mars by 2016."

Editor's note: Yea right, Bob. Just send money. Even with his well-crafted lunar exploration architecture, Mike Griffin will be lucky if he gets American back to the moon by 2018.

Space Frontier Foundation departs from the Space Exploration Alliance

"... Instead, the SEA has reverted to blind cheerleading for whatever design bureau government-centric approaches the agency has put forward, as tied to the old ways as they may be, as short- sighted as they may be, and as doomed to fail in the quest to open the frontier as they are. In the end, this blindness, if it does not kill the program in its infancy, will result in an inevitable repeat of the dead end of Apollo - except this time on two worlds instead of one - which would be a betrayal to future generations."

Editor's note: Of course, these folks and their "alt.space"companies also want government money and tax breaks - they just don't want Boeing and LockMart to get them too.

Hey, whatever happened to the Coalition for Space Exploration? NASA gave the coalition preferred status. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in aerospace contractor funds were collected (a lot of which went directly into Space Foundation coffers) and the end result was:

"the story of the Vision for Space Exploration. A New Age in Space: The Vision for Space Exploration coloring book is now available online."

Royal Astronomical Society Commission Supports The Scientific Case for Human Space Flight

"In summarising their findings, the Commissioners state: "We find that profound scientific questions relating to the history of the solar system and the existence of life beyond Earth can best - perhaps only - be achieved by human exploration on the Moon or Mars, supported by appropriate automated systems."

CEV Concept Unveiled

Northrop Grumman-Boeing Team Unveils Plans for Crew Exploration Vehicle

"A Northrop Grumman Corporation -The Boeing Company team today unveiled its plans to design and build NASA's proposed Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), a modular space system intended to carry humans to the International Space Station by 2012 and back to the moon by 2018."

Northrop Grumman-Boeing CEV Team Names Deputy Program Manager

"The Northrop Grumman Corporation and The Boeing Company Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) team has named Leonard Nicholson, a former International Space Station executive for Boeing, as its new deputy program manager."

President Bush's great white whale (editorial), Washington Examiner

"Human space travel - however romantic - is astoundingly dangerous, expensive and inefficient, and each objective can be done more safely, cheaply and efficiently with robots. Space travel is a worthwhile endeavor, but it has to be done correctly and at the right time. There is no reason to believe that now is that time or that NASA has proven itself completely up to the task."

Editor's note: Gee, I wonder if Ebenezer Scrooge Bob Park is writing for the Examiner?

A Closer Look at NASA's New Exploration Architecture, SpaceRef

"A group of NASA officials briefed a panel at the National Academy of Sciences last week on Administrator Mike Griffin's revamped exploration plans. The panel being briefed was part of the Academy's Space Studies Board - one organized to review NASA's plans for the International Space Station. Some aspects of the presentations, such as the broad outlines of how NASA wants to go back to the moon, were straightforward. Other presentations - on the International Space Station and what it is now to be used for - the ones that were most relevant to the committee's purview - were far less cogent."

Ground This Mission, editorial, Washington Post

"Now, as the country faces another great expense in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, NASA has unveiled its proposal for making Mr. Bush's vision a reality. Both the moment for embarking on this endeavor and the justifications for it seem odder than ever."

NASA leader ready for liftoff, editorial, Palm Beach Post

"Can a nation with massive hurricane damage, surging budget deficits and a war to fight in Iraq really afford the high cost of manned space flights when robot missions might advance research about as much? Is a return to the moon something that will capture the imagination of Americans? We've been there six times, so who's excited about No. 7?"


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