Exploration: July 2006 Archives

Steve Wozniak to Drive Hydrogen Hummer to South Pole, Cult of Mac Blog

"Woz explained that he was participating in an expedition planned for December 2007 in which a group will drive Hummers running on hydrogen powered fuel cells from McMurdo Station to the South Pole. Woz said his particular vehicle would be co-piloted by Buzz Aldrin, who walked on the moon in 1969. The expedition is to be filmed in 3D for the director James Cameron."

Editor's note: This strikes me as a Reality TV version of those "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" commercials.

Meanwhile, Back on Earth - NASA climate-change research should not suffer because the president wants to go to Mars, Editorial, Washington Post

"NASA is facing a real fiscal crisis. Even though the White House is demanding more, it hasn't given the space agency the funding it needs to build a launcher for the moon mission, pay an unexpectedly large bill for repairing the space shuttle and do everything else it committed to before Mr. Bush's Mars announcement. According to the space agency, NASA is diverting a little over $3 billion from its science research budget over five years."

EVA Med Evac Sim experiment preparations

EVA Med Evac Simulation Objectives

Preparations are still underway for the EVA med evac sim, which will take place on Monday. The following is a breakdown of the objectives of the experiment, provided by Dr. Rick Scheuring, DO, MS, Advanced Projects/Flight Surgeon (NASA-JSC).

EVA Med Evac Simulation Update

"Progress continued today on the med evac simulation, and things are shaping up well for tomorrow's test."

GAO Report: NASA: Long-Term Commitment to and Investment in Space Exploration Requires More Knowledge

"NASA's current acquisition strategy for the CEV places the project at risk of significant cost overruns, schedule delays, and performance shortfalls because it commits the government to a long-term product development effort before establishing a sound business case. NASA plans to award a contract for the design, development, production, and sustainment of the CEV in September 2006-before it has developed key elements of a sound business case, including well-defined requirements, a preliminary design, mature technology, and firm cost estimates."

  • GAO: NASA's Current Acquisition Strategy for the Crew Exploration Vehicle Places the Project at Risk of Significant Cost Overruns, Schedule Delays, and Performance Shortfalls, House Science Committee, Democratic Membership
  • GAO Releases Report Critical of NASA, Citing Financial Risks Involved With CEV Acquisition, House Science Committee
  • NASA Awards Contracts for Constellation Program Study
  • Comments? Send them to nasawatch@reston.com Your comments thus far:

    Editor's note: The Space Studies Board has been revising its membership. It is interesting to note that in light of NASA's continued cuts to astrobiology and space life science that the SSB has added Jack Farmer from Arizona State University, an astrobiologist and James Pawelczyk from Pennsylvania State University, a Neurolab astronaut and physiologist. Also, former NASA Administrator Richard Truly has joined and Tom Young is now the vice-chair of the SSB. Of course Lennard A. Fisk retains his chairmanship.

  • What Griffin Thinks - and the Academy Says - About Astrobiology, earlier post
  • What Mike Griffin *Really* Thinks About NRC's Space Station Report, earlier post
  • NASA's plans could hurt Moon and Mars missions, New Scientist

    "Keith Cowing, a former NASA engineer who edits the website NASA Watch, told New Scientist that the fact these two reports reached similar negative conclusions about NASA's plans should be a wakeup call. "NASA's plans are not well thought out, and the funding is not in place," he said. "Maybe it's time to step back and take a look at what's going on."

    National Students' Space Policy Proposal 2006

    "On behalf of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, I am proud to announce our first ever National Students' Space Policy Proposal. This document was created to inspire senators, representatives, companies and space enthusiasts to consider the future generation's views and opinions on space development when supporting and implementing policy."

    Unaffordable and Unsustainable: NASA's Failing Earth-to-orbit Transportation Strategy - A Policy White Paper of the Space Frontier Foundation

    "In developing this strategy, NASA has apparently ignored key elements of the White House's Space Exploration Policy and several critical recommendations of the President's Commission on Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy ("President's Commission"). Instead of planning its exploration transportation in a way that maximizes economic (and national security) benefit, NASA is working with its incumbent contractors to develop a series of government-designed and owned space exploration transportation systems to service ISS as well as explore the Moon."

    Comments? Send them to nasawatch@reston.com Your comments thus far:

  • NASA NEEMO Topside Team: Mission Day 3: Tuesday, July 25th, 2006
  • NEEMO 10 Training Journal 17-21 July 2006
  • NEEMO 10 Topside Support: Splashdown! 22 July 2006
  • NASA Space Simulation and Training Project: NEEMO 10
  • NASA NEEMO 10 Topside Support: Mission Day 2: Becoming Aquanauts
  • NASA NEEMO 10 Mission Day 1 Crew Journal Saturday, July 22, 2006
  • Editor's note: ESMD is ignoring this mission (even though they are paying for it) but SOMD (who is not paying for it) now makes overt mention of it on its Human Spaceflight page. Go figure.

  • Very cool live webcams Make sure to look at the two Diver Cams (Red and Green) - they have live voice and imagery during dives. (NASA won't link to these cameras for some odd reason)
  • Editor's note: A few minutes ago a link to the webcams finally appeared on the NEEMO site at NASA.gov
  • Ignoring NEEMO (Again), earlier post
  • How to Build a Better NASA, Jeff Foust (Futron Corporation), Seed Magazine

    "What we need is to let NASA be NASA. Shift the burden of less mission-specific projects to other interested organizations, allowing the agency to focus on the core science and exploration programs that it's best suited to do. These efforts don't necessarily provide the near-term relief that scientists crave but do accelerate the transformation of NASA into a science and exploration agency."

    Editor's note: Aw c'mon, Jeff. How lazy. Poor NASA. Everyone is against it. It has too much on its plate. Its not their fault. Yawn. You don't even bother to suggest that the way the agency operates needs to be overhauled - yet given a budget commensurate with what it has been called upon to do. Perhaps then it could actually do all of the things we expect it to do. I have confidence in NASA's ability to do just that - under the right leadership. You don't.

    Jeff Foust works for Futron Corp., a NASA contractor. I guess Jeff forgot to mention this to SEED Magazine.

    Ignoring NEEMO (Again)

    NASA Uses Undersea Lab to Prep for Future Space Exploration

    "Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata will lead the crew on a seven-day undersea mission July 22 to 28 aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Aquarius underwater laboratory ..."

    Editor's note: The NEEMO 10 crew is already half way through their mission - yet NASA PAO - and its mission directorates - seem to be ignoring the project - again.

    If you go to the NEEMO site at NASA.gov there are no images or status reports. As far as the NASA portal goes the missions page has nothing on NEEMO - neither does the Breaking News page. Also, there is no mention on the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate page, Space Operations Mission Directorate page, NASA's Human Spaceflight page, or on JSC's news page. As far as I can tell JAXA has nothing online at all - searching their website for "NEEMO" yields no results.

    This is all rather odd since NASA PAO touted this crew's activities as follows: "... NEEMO 10 project will include undersea extravehicular activities imitating moonwalks to test concepts for mobility, using weighted backpacks to simulate lunar and Martian gravity. Techniques for communication, navigation and using remote-controlled robots on the moon's surface also will be tested." Indeed, if you look at this NOAA Status report from 22 July it says that "NEEMO 10 is sponsored by the Constellation Program at NASA. The Constellation Program is responsible for taking NASA back to the Moon and on to Mars."

    Why go through the expense of announcing a mission like this - and then carrying it out - if no one knows that it is happening? Since NASA PAO is dragging their feet you might as well just go visit the NOAA Aquarius Website directly - they feature live webcams.

    Editor's 25 Jul update: JSC's NEEMO page finally added journal entries - otherwise, the rest of the agency's websites continue to ignore NEEMO.

  • NEEMO 10 Topside Support: Splashdown! 22 July 2006
  • Ignoring Exploration at NASA, Earlier post
  • Devon Island Update

    Aerial Photo of the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station (HMP RS) on Devon Island, High Arctic, taken from a helicopter on July 20, 2006. [Larger panorama]

  • HMP RS Status - Astrobiology Update - July 21, 2006
  • HMP RS Status Update - July 19, 2006
  • Haughton-Mars Project Expedition 2005: Interplanetary Supply Chain Management & Logistics Architectures: Final NASA/MIT Report

    "From an exploration perspective we found that HMP despite the identified differences with a Lunar or Martian base is an ideal research environment for interplanetary logistics, because it: ..."

  • Back To The Future

    Editor's note: As NASA moves ahead with designing the second stage of the CLV (Crew Launch Vehicle) which will feature a single J-2x engine, people at several NASA centers have been looking back at the last time NASA flew an upperstage with a single J-2 engine: the S-IVB.

    The S-IVB was used on both Saturn 1B (second stage) and Saturn V (third stage) launch vehicles. Interestingly, the S-IVB was what Apollo used to perform the mission role that the new EDS (Earth Departure Stage) is being designed to do. Stay tuned.

    Forum: One giant gift for mankind (commentary) Washington Times

    "The success of the Apollo program showed this country that if it truly set its full effort to a task, it could accomplish anything. Neil Armstrong, at the absolute center of the project, showed us we could do it without ego, and with dignity, and in so doing rise -- both literally and figuratively -- to our greatest heights."

    NASA: Repair the Hubble (editorial), Boston Globe

    "Bush's 2007 budget calls for just a 3.2 percent increase for NASA, despite the need to fund the president's moon-Mars vision. If he and Congress are really serious about that project, they must agree to increase NASA's budget accordingly, even during an election year like this one when there is so much pressure to reduce the deficit. Space travel without space science is not a wise way to expand mankind's knowledge of the universe."

    NASA seeks help for human exploration of Mars, New Scientist

    "NASA chief Michael Griffin appealed on Wednesday to the leaders of the world's leading space agencies to join NASA in its bid to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars. Unless they do, he said, there will be little point in completing the International Space Station. The ISS will make a perfect staging post for such missions, he believes."

    Editor's note: It is kind of odd to see Mike Griffin taunting the nations who signed on to build the ISS several decades ago with the idea that the U.S. might not meet its part of that decades-old committment if these nations don't help bail NASA out of its most recent task: the VSE. Also, it is a little confusing to see Griffin cite the value of the ISS for Moon and Mars missions while simultaneously eviscerating the very science the ISS was supposed to be doing (biomedical) and eliminating the hardware required for that resarch - all of which would enable such long duration missions to be accomplished safely and productively.

    Editor's note: From Nano2Sol (link): "I came accross this press release today. Mike Constantine is selling signed hi-res panoramas but you can look at the pans online for free and really get a sense of what it's like on the moon."

    "We drove a half hour out of town to the first transect site. The teachers separated and went with different scientist to collect samples of the rocks and soil. Our sampling tools consisted of sterile spoons, plastic gloves and zip-lock baggies. The scientists are all passionate about their work here and the teachers are excited to be doing real science along side the scientists. We were still working out the kinks of cooperation and communication. We kept hearing the term "herding cats", which was a good description of the progress of our group."

    Daily field reports are listed below:

    VSE Costs Climbing?

    Editor's update: seems that there is a lot of hallway chatter at MSFC - and elsewhere - about the advisability of switching from RS-68 engines to RD-180s for the CaLV - the prime issue being performance and the smaller booster diameter you could get (back to 27 feet) by going with RD-180s. There is also hallway chatter about the notion of dumping the CLV alltogether and considering an EELV such as the Atlas V. Seems that the current CLV has some difficulties (as designed) in getting the current CEV (as designed) into space.

    Editor's note: Word has it that internal studies done by/for Scott Pace's PA&E office show a growth in projected costs to complete the CEV program - by as much as $10-15 billion. In addition, individual lunar missions using one CEV, CLV, CaLV, LSAM, LSAS, etc. are now estimated to cost $5 Billion each. By comparison, Space Shuttle missions cost $0.5 billion each.

    NASA News Conference With Mike Griffin: Exploration Systems Architecture Study (Transcript) (Sep 2005)

    "As to what it's all going to cost, our estimates are about--that it will cost for the first human lunar return, it will cost about 55 percent measured in constant dollars of what Apollo cost spread out over 13 years. Apollo was done in eight years. So, spreading it out over 13 years, it will cost about 55 percent of what Apollo cost, a specific number in today's dollars, about $104 billion for the first human lunar return along the lines of the architecture you saw today."

    Editor's note: That was then, this is now ...

    Editor's note: Tanya E. Deason-Sharp called from Boeing. They are all upset about seeing their logo on this LockMart parody and asked that it be removed since this is "an unauthorized use
    of the Boeing logo"
    . I could get a lawyer and argue that parodies like this are protected by legal precedent but since Boeing is so upset about this, I'll excise the offending logo. Curiously, no one from Lockheed Martin seems to be upset about their Skunk Works logo appearing on spacefighters attacking the Boeing Death Star...

    Editor's note: According to sources within the CEV contractor community NASA is now talking about moving CEV contractor selection from September 2006 to early 2007 (January). Stay tuned.

    Meanwhile, someone at LockMart has a lot of free time on their hands - and is rather confident that they'll defeat Boeing. I guess they don't see Northrop Grumman as offering any value to the partnership. Gee, I sure hope that the LockMart folks have their English/metric conversions and systems integration process under control, that they lock the bolts on their turn over carts, and that they install the accelerometers in the right direction.

    Click on image to enlarge.

    Mars Institute Core Team Arrives at the HMP Research Station on Devon Island

    "On Tuesday, July 4th part of the Mars Institute core team arrived at the HMP Research Station on Devon Island.

    Today, weather permitting, one flight is scheduled to go to Devon Island carrying cargo.

    As well the second charter has left Edmonton this afternoon on its way to Resolute with cargo and several participants including researchers from the Canadian Space Agency."

    IFPTE Letter to Rep. Frank Regarding Defunding of NASA Mars Exploration

    "As Vice President for Legislative Affairs for the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (local 30), I was dismayed by your effort last Wednesday to defund NASA's program to send humans to Mars and back. Your attempt was misguided for at least two reasons."

    'Mars fever' on House floor, The Hill

    "A debate broke out last week on the House floor as members debated the commerce-justice-science appropriations bill that has us asking, "What would Carl Sagan do?" Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) kicked things off by offering an amendment saying that none of NASA's funds could be used for a "manned space shot to Mars."

    Reader note: You might recommend reminding folks about what the NASA Authorization Act of 2005 says on this debate. How quickly legislators forget about the debates and existing laws ....

    The Mars Institute Core Team Arrives in Resolute Bay, Nunavut

    "The first charter plane arrived in Resolute Bay yesterday on schedule with the initial Mars Institute core team and cargo. Another charter with personnel and cargo is scheduled to arrive in Resolute on Wednesday, July 5th."


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