Exploration: April 2006 Archives

NASA'S Exploration Workshop Kicks Off Strategy Development

"Why are we going to the moon? What will we do when we get there? Approximately 200 participants from 13 countries grappled with these questions during NASA's Exploration Strategy Workshop, which concluded Friday. The four-day workshop was the first in a series of activities planned for 2006 focusing on defining a strategy for lunar exploration, including the role of the moon as a stepping stone to Mars and other destinations."

Remarks by NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale at the Space Exploration Strategy Workshop

"Decades from now, when humans routinely live and work on the lunar surface and we're getting ready to journey to Mars, all of us in this room can look back to this unique moment in time when we started to plan the strategy. It is an exciting time to be in at the ground floor of what promises to be an exciting and historic process."

NASA Announces Results from Exploration Strategy Workshop

"Findings and recommendations from NASA's Exploration Strategy Workshop will be presented to media during a teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 28."

Statement by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin before the Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space

"The FY 2007 budget request is sufficient to bring the CEV online no later than 2014, and potentially much sooner. Given the analysis I have today and the need to balance budgets with proposed development work for the CEV and launch vehicles along with the cost estimates for that work, I cannot be more specific for our stakeholders in the White House and Congress at this time about the specific point between 2010 and 2014 when NASA will be able to bring the CEV online. NASA requested industry proposals for the CEV, and we have considerable incentives for an industry bidder to propose a planned development for the CEV as close to 2010 as possible."

NASA Chief Eyes 2011 for New Spacecraft, AP

"A new spaceship could be ready to replace the nation's aging shuttle fleet by 2011 - three years ahead of schedule - if lawmakers added money to NASA's proposed budget, the head of the space agency told a congressional panel on Tuesday."

Editor's note: In examining the Excel spreadsheet that NASA PAO sent me today containing Space Exploration Strategy Workshop attendee information, I came across another list of attendees - one that does not quite mesh with another list contained elsewhere in the spreadsheet - one containing breakout team assignments. This is the first list I posted earlier today. That list follows.

Editor's note: The following membership of breakout teams at Space Exploration Strategy Workshop, currently under way in Washington, DC, has been released by NASA Public Affairs:

Editor's note: The following list of attendees at the invitation-only NASA Space Exploration Strategy Workshop, currently under way in Washington, DC, has been released by NASA Public Affairs:

Editor's note: Apparently the NASA Vision for Space Exploration exhibition truck is on site at MSFC. One employee notes "It's 20 feet away from the main buildings and instead of plugging it into MSFC, they've got a huge generator making a hell of a lot of noise and buring a gallons of expensive gas. No one is going into it and the guides are doing nothing but wandering around showing no interest. What a ****ing waste of money." [Courtesy of NASASpaceflight.com]

Reader note: "I may be wrong but I think the exhibition truck is at MSFC to help support "Take Your Kids to Work" day (4/27/2006). It may be a waste of gas but I would not assume that MSFC is bored by the Vision for Space Exploration."

Reader note: "Mr. Cowing, You've been had, I think, by an inaccurate statement. I walked by that truck about 2 pm and they were still setting it up. The display is in a semi trailer with multiple slide-outs and is definitely set up to go all over the country. The "power cord" is 3 inches in diameter and I would venture to guess the generator puts out nearly 25 kW."

CEV/CLV News

NASA Announces Five Centennial Challenges Competitions Open for Registration

"NASA announced Tuesday the opening of team registration for five Centennial Challenges prize competitions with cash prizes totaling more than $1 million."

Constellation Update

NASA Internal Memo: Constellation Program Weekly Update 16 April 2006, NASA JSC

"A little perspective - and I apologize for repeating myself for those who have heard my little analogy before - on what we're attempting to do here. Imagine the Cx program is a 'house' we've set about building together, with the various rooms of the house representative of the separate elements of the architecture. Unfortunately, we don't have the funds to build the ENTIRE house all at once, instead we can only afford to build it a room or two at a time. Ok. But to be capable of building those first couple of rooms of the house, we must understand the entire 'blueprint', and how those rooms fit into the larger scheme. We must describe it sufficiently to pour the foundation, and to "frame" the house to the greatest extent possible. Doesn't mean we can't add a room in the future, but it will be more expensive."

LOX/Methane Advances

NASA, Industry and Air Force Team Achieves Critical Milestone in Liquid Oxygen-Liquid Methane Engine Development Program, NAS AMSFC

"This type of engine is a strong candidate for use in a launch vehicle propulsion system that is low cost, but offers the high operational responsiveness needed to pursue our aggressive space exploration goals," said Robert L. Sackheim, assistant center director and chief engineer for space propulsion at the Marshall Center. "As we move forward, the technology offers the opportunity to fly more and learn more."

CEV LOX/Methane Update: Is It In - Or Is It Out?, earlier post

Horowitz: "It's just in the short term we looked at all of our propulsion needs and the ability to do a cost-effective run-out of our launch vehicles to support the lunar and then eventually the Mars programs and so in that cost and benefit trade, and technical trades, we came upon some trades that said we were gonna delay LOX/methane on the CEV until a later time."

Beam Me Up Mike

New and Improved Antimatter Spaceship for Mars Missions

"Most self-respecting starships in science fiction stories use antimatter as fuel for a good reason - it's the most potent fuel known. The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) is funding a team of researchers working on a new design for an antimatter-powered spaceship that avoids this nasty side effect by producing gamma rays with much lower energy. Antimatter is sometimes called the mirror image of normal matter because while it looks just like ordinary matter, some properties are reversed."

Editor's note: The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) project is currently underway. According to its webpage "Three NASA astronauts and a Cincinnati doctor are living and working under the ocean this month to test space medicine concepts and moon-walking techniques. Canadian astronaut Dave Williams is leading the 18-day undersea mission April 3 to 20 aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Aquarius Underwater Laboratory off the Florida coast. NASA astronauts Nicole Stott and Ron Garan and Dr. Tim Broderick of the University of Cincinnati round out the crew. Jim Buckley and Ross Hein of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington will provide engineering support."

Since NASA is now supposed to be refocused on supporting the VSE, you'd think that such exploration activities would gather prominent mention on NASA's various web pages. Think again. Is there any mention whatsoever on NASA's Exploration web page? No. How about NASA's Human Spaceflight page? No. How about NASA's Science Mission Directorate (where the Earth Science folks live)? No. How about NASA's News and Events page? No.

It is really annoying to see that one part of the agency is either too lazy or disinterested to reference valuable activites being done by another. These days its hard to tell what the motivation (or lack thereof) is for this malaise. Oh well - you can read all of NEEMO's 2006 reports here on SpaceRef - or Google up some news.

Editor's update: I have just learned that there is a link here. But this still does not explain why ESMD, SOMD, and SMD ignore this project.

- Live underwater webcams
- NASA goes underseas to moon walk (picture), c|NET
- 'Aquanauts' Train for Space (Video), ABC

Click on image to enlarge [Other images]

"I'm currently participating in the NASA-sponsored bedrest study at the Cleveland Clinic. These are the chronicles of three full months of bedrest, in addition to the craziness leading up to it, and the who knows what afterwards."

Editor's note: Erin is certainly doing her part for the VSE! I certainly hope that all NASA Watch readers visit Erin's Blog to say hello - and also to say "thank you".

NASA Solicitation: Exploration of the Moon and Beyond

"NASA is initiating a long-term activity to develop a global space exploration strategy. A series of activities are planned in 2006 to gain a better understanding of the role that human and robotic exploration and development of a sustained human presence on the moon plays in supporting a broad exploration strategy that includes Mars and other destinations. As part of this process, NASAs Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) is seeking through this Request For Information (RFI), ideas on activities that could be pursued on the moon as part of an integrated global exploration strategy."

New NASA Ames Spacecraft to Look for Ice at Lunar South Pole

"NASA today announced that a small, 'secondary payload' spacecraft, to be developed by a team at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., has been selected to travel to the moon to look for precious water ice at the lunar south pole in October 2008."

NASA Exploration Briefing on New Lunar Mission

"Exploration Systems managers will brief news media at 2 p.m. EDT Monday, April 10, about plans to conduct high risk and high return research of the lunar surface using a new spacecraft. The press conference will be held in the NASA Headquarters auditorium, 300 E Street S.W., Washington."

Editor's 7 April update: Reliable sources all seem to be pointing in the direction of ARC's impactor as the lucky choice. Stay tuned.

Descoping ESAS

VSE: Less steroids or less Apollo, NASA Spaceflight.com

"Once characterized as "Apollo on steroids" by NASA administrator Mike Griffin, the architecture surrounding the ESAS (Exploration Systems Architecture Study) has grown too heavy for its launch vehicles."

Citizen Explorers

Editor's note: Despite all of the counterproductive and self-serving rhetoric ("Moon bad, Mars good") that Bob Zubrin loves to enterain us with (his last editorial in Space News is a classic in this genre), many of the members of the Mars Society manage to take personal participation in Mars analog work seriously and prefer hard work to Zurbin's arm waving. In particular, I never fail to be impressed with the extent to which foreign participants - and their respective space agencies - view these activities. The current team at the MDRS in Utah is supported by an astonishing team of 130 people on site in Utah and back in Austria. Check out the Austromars website for an overview and updates (English version on the right). And in the mean time, just ignore that man waving his arms in the distance. But do pay attention to the actions of the members he claims to represent.

Extreme spots on Earth may reveal life on Mars, Knight Ridder Newspapers

"Although it will be at least 30 years before the first human sets foot on Mars, NASA already is testing some of the conditions that astronauts might face there. For example, [Astrobiologist Nathalie] Cabrol took astronaut Scott Parazynski, a space-walk specialist on the shuttle Atlantis in 1997, with her on a climb up Licancabur, a 19,522-foot Bolivian volcano. Dangerous ultraviolet radiation is intense in the scanty atmosphere up there, as it is on Mars."

Editor's note: Mark Borkowski, director of NASA's Robotic Lunar Exploration Program (RLEP), apparently left NASA HQ last week. More personnel changes in RLEP lie ahead including the possible departure of Borkowski's Deputy John Baker. Meanwhile, reliable sources report that RLEP2 costs have continued to rise from the target range of $400 to $750 million to well over a $1 billion ($1.2 billion or more). Some talk of outright cancellation has been heard.

Earlier post: Letter from NASA ESMD Deputy Doug Cooke Regarding Robotic Lunar Exploration Program 2 (RLEP2) Roles

Mars challenge is protecting humans from long space travel and heavy metal ion bombardment, American Physiological Society

"Speaking as a veteran space traveler, [Jim] Pawelczyk noted that as currently envisioned, the Mars probe would take as little 13 months to a maximum of 30 months. "We run the possibility of losing nearly half the bone mineral in some regions of the body, which would make the astronauts' skeletons the equivalent of a 100-year-old person," he said. Such fragile bones could fractures, which would be a most unwelcome challenge."

J-2X Procurement Begins

NASA MSFC Solicitation: J-2X Design, Development, Test and Evaluation

"NASA/MSFC has a requirement for the design, development, test, and evaluation (DDT&E) of an engine to support the Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) Upper Stage and the Cargo Launch Vehicle (CaLV) Earth Departure Stage (EDS). The engine, a J-2 (Saturn Heritage engine) derivative, will be a 250,000 pound thrust class human-rated engine and is planned to support a human launch of the CLV in 2012. The baseline DDT&E effort will require the delivery of seven development and qualification engines with two spares, two development test flight engines, and one human flight engine."

Click on image to enlarge [Other images]

NASA's Guinea Pig, Clevescene.com

"I'm currently participating in the NASA-sponsored bed-rest study, and so far I haven't been out of bed in five and a half weeks. (The entire study runs 12 weeks.) I am on complete bed rest, and my feet haven't touched the ground in over a month."

Editor's note: Erin is certainly doing her part for the VSE! I certainly hope that all NASA Watch readers visit Erin's Blog to say hello - and also to say "thank you".


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