Editor's note: According to Rory Cooper, Director of Outreach and Intergovernmental Affairs at NASA's Office of Legislative Affairs, at 2:30 pm this afternoon NASA will formally announce that the names of its new launch vehicles. The Crew Launch Vehicle will be called Ares 1 and the Cargo Launch Vehicle will be called Ares 5. The names are meant to honor the launch vehicles that sent astronauts on their way to the moon (Saturn I and V) and to note NASA's eventual destination: Mars. Ares was the Greek god of war - and was known by the Romans as "Mars".
Exploration: June 2006 Archives
Questions orbit around future of NASA, USA Today
"The agency has announced no plans at all for the four- to six-month voyage to Mars, though the new spacecraft are being designed to make the trip. Griffin has said work on such a foray would take place in the 2020s. Even the most pessimistic space experts say America is unlikely to abandon a program as popular and prestigious as human space exploration. But few are putting the odds on a bright future. "I want to see (NASA) succeed," says [Roger] Launius of the Air and Space Museum. "I'm just very concerned" that it can't."
"This is the United States of America. We are a nation of pioneers and explorers," said Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Fla. "We are destined to explore not just Mars but go on to other stars. It's in our nature as human beings."
Editor's note: Mars is a planet, not a star.
SIZE OF NASA'S WORKFORCE: "With respect to the agency's workforce, the Committee is concerned with the budgetary impact of maintaining employment levels in excess of what is needed to accomplish NASA's mission. The Committee expects NASA to undertake the necessary workforce planning to correct what NASA refers to as 'uncovered capacity'. The Committee supports NASA's efforts to develop and maintain a world-class workforce."House to Vote on Mars Mission Funding, AP
"Critics in the House are taking aim at $700 million that President Bush wants to spend next year toward sending man back to the moon and eventually on to Mars. A comparable effort last year to cut money for the moon-Mars mission lost on a 230-196 vote."
NASA's Science Mission Aborted, Technology Review
"Although the International Space Station remains a budgetary priority, some scientists feel that its usefulness for carrying out scientific research has already been diminished, by, for example, the cancellation of a large centrifuge seen as essential for biological research. That cancellation, says Keith Cowing of the watchdog website NASA Watch, will "set back the ability" to develop ways to prevent the loss of muscle and bone by astronauts in prolonged weightlessness. And yet, he says, President Bush's exploration initiative is supposed to be leading toward trips to "Mars and beyond," where such measures will be essential."
"At least 14 American crew members have developed kidney stones in the last 5 years, and as missions become longer, the number is likely to grow. While astronauts have exercised in space to attempt to combat bone loss, the lack of gravity makes it difficult to achieve enough resistance to maintain their pre-flight fitness levels."
Editor's note: Go to NASA SOMD's Human Spaceflight home page. Do you see links to the VSE, ESMD or anything connected to NASA's exploration efforts on that main entry point? Go the news page and you will see a similar lack of information on exploration. Now go to NASA's Exploration home page. There are no links to NASA SOMD's Human Spaceflight page - yet SOMD and ESMD are supposed to be working together to transition from current to future space systems. Oh yes - I don't see any links between ESMD's page and SMD's home page either - yet they are supposed to be developing hardware and science hand in hand. Indeed ESMD has created their own versions of pages that SOMD's website already has online.
I find this continued stove piping and duplication of effort in terms of education and outreach, web design, etc. to be rather odd. Yet Mike Griffin tells everyone that exploration is what NASA is about and that SOMD, ESMD, and SMD are one big happy family. Alas, they can't even bother to link to each other's home pages. What does this say about how they really get along? This is just silly folks.
Editor's note: Paul Hertz, Chief Scientist for Science Mission Directorate, told a NAS meeting this morning that NASA's Lunar Exploration program "is not science driven". He said this three times. Yet a chart he presented said "It is essential that NASA adopt the very strongest science program possible for the Moon right from the outset because advocated weak science would be questioned and could jeopardize the entire lunar program". The NAS panel repeatedly questioned Hertz on this seeming inconsistency i.e. that while the lunar program is not driven by science NASA seems to want to get the science community to support it because of its science content. This of course reflects the problems Mike Griffin has with reconciling science and exploration.
"The next step out is the Moon. We're going to get, and probably already are getting, the same criticisms as for ISS. This is the "why go to the Moon?" theme. We've got the architecture in place and generally accepted. That's the "interstate highway" analogy I've made. So now, we need to start talking about those exit ramps I've referred to. What ARE we going to do on the Moon? To what end? And with whom? I have ideas, of course. (I ALWAYS have ideas; it's a given.) But my ideas don't matter. Now is the time to start working with our own science community and with the Internationals to define the program of lunar activity that makes the most sense to the most people. I keep saying -- because it's true -- that it's not the trip that matters, it's the destination, and what we do there. We got to get started on this."
"Keith: We arrived in Resolute Friday evening but we are still in here awaiting better weather. Its been cloudy with periods of light snow and rain along with low cloud and fog so getting north has been a bit problematic. But that is life in the fast lanes... We may try to get up to Eureka later today but I am not betting the farm. Hard to believe that we started blogging from the McMurdo Dry Valleys in the Antarctic nearly ten years ago. I know that "blog" along with the images have been available online at your astrobiology website since."
"What are seven NASA Explorer School teachers doing in the Atacama desert in Chile? They are studying side-by-side with NASA scientists who search for life in extreme environments, closely approximating what they expect to find on other planets. Why the Atacama -- an inhospitable, seemingly lifeless, sun drenched spot that is probably the driest place on Earth?"
Editor's note: The Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse woke up several weeks ago. Located at the Mars Institute's HMP Research Station on Devon Island, this greenhouse has several webcams located inside which are now sending back images on a more or less daily basis. Webcam 2 looks south at the growing trays. Webcam 3 looks north at the heating system. Note: ignore the date stamp on these webcam images - apparently both cameras lost track of time during the several months of darkness when they were inactive.
During fall 2005 there was some unusual activity in and around the greenhouse and the report listed below describes what is known to date. Another update to this report will follow soon.
Editor's note: According to an email widely circulated within the Mars Society from Tony Muscatello "Robert Zubrin and I have canceled FMARS 2006 because of funding uncertainties".
China aims for the moon, Reuters
"A top official in China's space program has set 2024 for the country's first moonwalk, a Hong Kong newspaper reported on Monday, cementing its position as a new space power."
"Senior Leadership. As NASA turns its focus toward VSE projects, GRC faces a fundamental difficulty due to its lack of a strategy to position itself as a meaningful contributor to the pursuit of the vision. The failure to develop and implement such a strategy led the center to become dependent on the declining aeronautics, microgravity science, and space technology programs for its future health and viability. This failure was due in part to the fact that the majority of its senior management team did not have space flight experience."
"The survival of the human race depends on its ability to find new homes elsewhere in the universe because there's an increasing risk that a disaster will destroy the Earth, world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking said Tuesday. The British astrophysicist told a news conference in Hong Kong that humans could have a permanent base on the moon in 20 years and a colony on Mars in the next 40 years."
Hawking's cosmological riff, CNet (Nov 2005)
"When asked about his thoughts on President Bush's proposal to put a man on Mars within 10 years, Hawking simply replied: "Stupid."
NASA details exploration plans, Orlando Sentinel
"The Kennedy Space Center will manage launches and landings for a new generation of spacecraft that will travel to the moon and beyond, NASA announced Monday."
"They really have got to learn how to do this cheap," said American University public policy professor Howard McCurdy, who has written several books about the space agency. "That's the big challenge. In 1960, the challenge was how to do it fast. Now the trick is to do it cheap."
"NASA Glenn provides a vital component for both NASA and greater Northeast Ohio, and I will continue to work to secure the vision for NASA Glenn's long-term growth," said Voinovich."
"NASA Glenn Research Center, which has lost hundreds of jobs in recent years, will have a lead role in developing the spacecraft that will fulfill President Bush's goal of returning to the moon."
"Our history of innovation and our prime location in Silicon Valley will enhance our ability to deliver the cutting-edge technology NASA needs to implement the Vision for Space Exploration," Worden added."
"More importantly, the current assignments do little to keep NASA's Scientific Research and Technology Development capabilities healthy at Ames, or JPL, Glenn, Marshall, Goddard, and Langley for that matter. We are, however, pleased that Administrator Griffin said that Science will be incorporated in the Constellation plan 'when the Scientists say so'. We look forward to that happening soon, before NASA's in-house Science and Technology capabilities are allowed to atrophy."
Russia's Lunar Return, Aviation Week and Space Technology
"Russia, which pioneered and then abandoned robotic exploration of the Moon after loss of the Space Race and collapse of the Soviet Union, is starting the development of its first lunar mission in 30 years. The ambitious flight, entering initial design, will include a lunar orbiter that, under the current plan, will also simultaneously deploy 13 probes across diverse regions of the lunar surface."
"You are invited to join Administrator Michael Griffin for a special NASA Update on Monday, June 5, at 1 p.m. EDT, live from NASA Headquarters. The program will be broadcast on NASA TV and will be available on the Internet."
Adventures in Near-Earth Object Exploration, Science (subscription)
"If we are seeking a new vision for human exploration in space, it should be emphasized that astronauts could visit a small NEO without developing a lot of new space hardware. Veteran astronaut Jones and his colleagues (13) have put forward a mission concept where a modified Soyuz crew vehicle, refueled and docked to the International Space Station (ISS), takes astronauts on a several-month "vacation" to rendezvous with an Earth-approaching asteroid, returning to the ISS for stories of adventure to be told around the galley. Perhaps asteroids are the logical, achievable first focus for human rocketry beyond the Moon; if so, then missions such as Hayabusa are paving the way."
13. T. D. Jones et al., in The Future of Solar System Exploration, 20032013, M. V. Sykes, Ed. (ASP Conference Series, vol. 272) (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 2002), pp. 141154.