Exploration: January 2006 Archives

NASA GRC Notices Regarding Status of Procurement NNC06ZPT004R: Cryogenic Oxygen/Methane RCS Engine Assembly

"24 January: Announcement of the final program decision on the subject procurement action is expected to be delayed until the week of Monday, January 30th, 2006

13 January: The evaluation of all proposals has been completed and presentations of the evaluation committee's findings have been made to the Source Selection Authority. However, recent changes in requirements for the Crew Exploration Vehicle's propulsion system require the LOx/Methane project to obtain decisions from higher program levels prior to proceeding with any contract awards."

AP Photo Caption: "Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, top center, announces the findings and recommendations of the Governor's Commission on the future of space and aeronautics at a news conference in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2006. NASA'S new crew exploration vehicle, foreground, will replace the space shuttle after its retirement in 2010.(AP Photo/Phil Coale)"

Editor's note: Gee, even if the AP caption of this X-33 model is in error, it would seem that the folks in Florida state government aren't really up to speed on NASA's CEV activities either (see below)

Florida's Aerospace Mission: Protect, Expand Market Share, LA Times

"The next generation of NASA's manned craft are virtually certain to be launched from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, but Florida wants to be more than a launch site. The state wants to snare as great a share as possible of the assembly, testing and servicing of the vehicles, Jennings said."

Editor's note: Mike Griffin does not plan to assemble the CEV in Florida. He only plans to launch it from there.

NASA Implementing a Knowledge-Based Acquisition Framework Could Lead to Better Investment Decisions and Project Outcomes, GAO (Report)

Gordon, Udall Urge NASA to Heed GAO's Project Management Recommendations

"In their report out today, the GAO offers some common-sense recommendations aimed at reducing the chances that NASA's projects will suffer cost growth and schedule delays. I hope NASA will take the GAO's guidance seriously."

Editor's note: At last, three weeks after you first saw it here, NASA has finally posted the Final ESAS Report. Hurray!

Deadly Ascent, Nova, PBS

"NOVA joins a team of medical researchers, rescuers, world-class mountaineers, military special forces, and an astronaut [John Grunsfeld] taking part in a study by Dr. Peter Hackett, who turns the mountain's vertical arctic landscape into a high-altitude lab. Home to the highest medical rescue camp in the U.S., Denali offers a unique opportunity, since it's one of the few places on Earth where doctors can study humans in extreme conditions."

CLV Problems?

NASA Encounters Possible Problems With Crew Launch Vehicle Design, SpaceRef

"According to industry sources, NASA has encountered some problems with its planned CLV (Crew Launch Vehicle) design as spelled out in the yet to be (formally) released Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS) Final Report. NASA has considered bringing in contractor representatives soon to discuss this issue since a change in the CLV design would lead to other delays - including the CEV."

Methane dropped from CEV plans, NASASpaceFlight.com

NASA Drops Requirement For Methane Engine From CEV, Aviationnow.com

"...The new document also drops requirements for a LOX/methane engine on the CEV service module as a placeholder for future extraction of the fuel from the atmosphere of Mars, and for delivery of unpressurized cargo to the International Space Station ..."

White House Space Policy: A Renewed Spirit of Discovery

"The fundamental goal of this vision is to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program. In support of this goal, the United States will: ... Extend human presence across the solar system, starting with a human return to the Moon by the year 2020, in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations;"

"Develop and demonstrate power generation, propulsion, life support, and other key capabilities required to support more distant, more capable, and/or longer duration human and robotic exploration of Mars and other destinations; and Conduct human expeditions to Mars after acquiring adequate knowledge about the planet using robotic missions and after successfully demonstrating sustained human exploration missions to the Moon."

Editor's update: Once again, under Mike Griffin, the implementation of the VSE shrinks further back from sending humans to Mars - via the moon - a goal NASA was directed to pursue by the President two years ago tomorrow.

CEV Phase II RFP Released

NASA Refines Design for Crew Exploration Vehicle

"NASA's Constellation Program is making progress toward selecting a prime contractor to design, develop and build the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), America's first new human spacecraft in 30 years."

Reader comment: Actually, wouldn't SpaceShipOne be America's first new spacecraft in so many years?

X-38 Fact Sheet, DFRC

"The wingless CRV, when operational, would be the first reusable human spacecraft to be built in more than two decades."

Editor's note: How quickly NASA forgets its own hype. Indeed, it does so again and again:

Reader comment: "With regard to the X-38 quote: Space Shuttle Endeavour was delivered in 1991."

Editor's note: From the GRC Bulletin page: "All Hands Meeting Tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. in the DEB Auditorium: "An All Hands Meeting led by Center Director Dr. Woodrow Whitlow, Jr., will be held tomorrow, January 10, 2006, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. in the DEB Auditorium. Doug Cooke, Deputy Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, will also attend and participate in the meeting."

CEV revolution mounted, NASASpaceflight.com

"An innovative gimbal mount is being proposed for inclusion to the design of the CEV (Crew Exploration Vehicle), revolutionising the vehicle's RCS (Reaction Control System) and solar panel orientation capabilities."

CEV Management Changes

Editor's note: Brian Anderson has been removed as CEV Project Manager. No word yet as to who his replacement will be.

Editor's note: If you go to NASA's main VSE page at the NASA.gov website (also linked to by all other major NASA websites) there is a link on the right hand side which leads to a collection of conceptual art which depict various exploration concepts. Just pick the first lunar category ("lunar activities") and click on a image at random. You get a long disclaimer within each image's caption which says "Note: NASA currently has no formal plans for a human expedition to Mars or the Moon. etc. etc."

This caveat is to be found on all exploration images in this gallery - and has been on these images for more than half a decade. I find it rather silly (and confusing) that NASA waves around all of these new architectures - complete with pretty pictures - within the aerospace community, yet the image galleries that members of the general public (and therefore the media) are directed to send exactly the opposite message i.e. that "NASA has no formal plans ...". Isn't there anyone at NASA who pays attention to the 'big picture' aspect of the messages NASA sends out. Oh wait - that is what NASA's Strategic Communications Office is supposed to be doing.

Editor's update: This is what one of these image captions looked like before being modified. This is what it looks like now. It is curious that this image gallery - one maintained by an agency with thousands of very smart people - had these image captions online for so long - until some guy sitting at a computer in his basement pointed out this problem the other day. Clearly there is very little "strategy" in NASA's "Strategic" Communications. Nice start Joe - but you still have a long way to go, and a lot left to do.

NASA ESAS Final Report November 2005: TEXT OF FULL REPORT

Editor's note: Several days ago we posted a final (October 2005) draft of this report. We have since come across the final version of the report (November 2005) which has recently been approved by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. In order to present the most accurate version of this report, we have removed the draft version and replaced it with the final version of the report. NASA is expected to publicly release this report in early January 2006.

NASA's Predicament, editorial, NY Times

"NASA is headed into the next year with ambitious goals and no assurance that it will get the money needed to carry them out. With large deficits looming in the space shuttle accounts, there is some danger that the space agency could work itself into a familiar corner by trying to do too much with too little, a sure-fire recipe for disaster."

What About Mars?

Why We're Going Back to the Moon, OpEd by Paul Spudis, Washington Post

"The recent release of the details of NASA's proposed plans for human return to the moon in response to President Bush's "Vision for Space Exploration" last year has drawn much comment -- some positive, some negative and some simply perplexed."

President Bush Announces New Vision for Space Exploration Program , White House

"Today, President Bush announced a new vision for the Nation's space exploration program. The President committed the United States to a long-term human and robotic program to explore the solar system, starting with a return to the Moon that will ultimately enable future exploration of Mars and other destinations. ... The experience and knowledge gained on the Moon will serve as a foundation for human missions beyond the Moon, beginning with Mars."

What Mike Griffin *Really* Thinks About NRC's Space Station Report

"Beyond the Moon is Mars, robots first. Most of the Internationals are at present more interested in Mars, as I hear the gossip. Fine, we can't tell them what to be interested in. But our road to Mars goes through the Moon, and we should be able to enlist them to join on that path."

Editor's note: The VSE used be about "human missions beyond the Moon, beginning with Mars". Now, Mike Griffin has focused VSE on one thing only: the Moon. The word Mars doesn't appear in this OpEd - nor do you see it mentioned very often publicly in NASA's new plans - other than vague hints of other, unnamed places. Yet Mike Griffin openly speaks of Mars privately. Unless I missed something, I do not recall the President having revised his direction to NASA. As such, why is everything the agency says focused only on returning the Moon with everything TBD afterwards? Isn't Mars - as a specific destination - part of that rationale, as voiced by the President? Wouldn't adding Mars to the equation a little more openly help explain part of 'why' America is going back to the Moon?

Why do we need to spend $104 billion to get one human crew back on the moon? It makes much more sense if people know this is a practice run for Mars. Its sounds without merit if the rationale is not presented in the same sentence - Dr. Spudis' (otherwise cogent) explanations not withstanding.

If you look back at the articles that took issue with President Bush's January 2004 speech and the VSE, people were taking issue with missions to Mars far more than they were about returning to the moon. NASA should stop parsing what the President said and stick to what he said in the first place. Changing destinations just serves to confuse people who are already skeptical about NASA - and makes justifications all that much harder to explain.



Monthly Archives

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Exploration category from January 2006.

Exploration: December 2005 is the previous archive.

Exploration: February 2006 is the next archive.

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