Exploration: August 2006 Archives

CEV Announcement

NASA Announces Contractor for Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle

"NASA Exploration Systems' managers will host a press conference at 4 p.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 31, to announce the prime contractor to design, develop, and build Orion, America's next human spacecraft.."

Editor's 30 Aug 10:48 pm EDT note: According to an eyewitness, they are painting the grass green at the Northrop Grumman buildings in El Segundo. Apparently, this only happens on the eve of winning a very big contract so that a better TV backdrop is available. The last time this happened was when Northrop Grumman won the NPOESS contract.

Editor's note: Well, we're only hours away from NASA's announcement of the CEV winner(s). Rumours, of course, are swirling about who might win. I've heard nothing (yet) which is remotely reliable about who might win. None the less, here is a compilation of what I have been hearing as to how the selection might be handled:

  1. Either Northrop Grumman/Boeing or Lockheed Martin will be picked for everything.
  2. Both companies will get a piece of the action either by:
    • Dividing things into a prime/subcontractor arrangement spread across the CEV command and service modules.
    • Select one contractor to develop the command module and the other to develop the service module.

Editor's note: Many have observed that NASA is trying to recreate the capabilities already present - or easily obtainable - from private sector launch vehicles so as to implement the VSE. Specifically, capabilities exist in EELVs (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) for which taxpayers have already spent billions of dollars to develop. COTS is a step in the right direction, but some feel that NASA could do much, much more in utilizing existing private sector launch capabilities.

NASA Announces Contractor for Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle

"NASA Exploration Systems' managers will host a press conference at 4 p.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 31, to announce the prime contractor to design, develop, and build Orion, America's next human spacecraft."

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."

Orion Revealed

Astronaut lets name of new spaceship slip, AP

"The name of the new vehicle that NASA hopes will take astronauts back to the moon was supposed to be hush-hush until next week. But apparently U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams, floating 220 miles above Earth at the international space station, didn't get the memo. Williams let it slip today that the new vehicle's name is Orion."

NASA Names New Crew Exploration Vehicle Orion

"NASA announced Tuesday that its new crew exploration vehicle will be named Orion."

NASA's New Spacesuits

NASA Constellation Space Suit Systems (CSSS) Industry Day Presentation on Suit Systems

"Space Suit System Architecture: NASA perceives that a single suit system providing LEA, zero-G EVA and surface EVA capabilities is a feasible approach and potentially offers the following: Reduced upmass; Reduced logistics and sparing; Reduced life cycle costs."

Science Vs Stunts

Devon Island like no place on Earth, Chicago Tribune

"Tight-lipped geologists from the De Beers diamond company were quietly scouting the island this summer in search of likely spots to mine for the precious gems. And amateur Mars enthusiasts from a group called the Mars Society run a kind of extraterrestrial summer camp some years, hosting tourists who live aboard a simulated Mars capsule they've built here. The visitors dress in mock spacesuits and go out on pretend exploratory missions.

There's no pretending in [Pascal] Lee's [Haughton Mars Project] camp, however: Everything is very real, and very uncomfortable. When it rains or snows, as it does occasionally, the researchers get wet; when it freezes--summertime temperatures normally range from 30 to 50 degrees--they shiver."

NASA RFI: Crew Launch Vehicle Upper Stage Notice of Intent: Ares I Upper Stage Production and Ares I Instrument Unit Solicitations

NASA RFI: Ares I Upper Stage RFI Update August 2006

"The planning for the development and production of the Ares I (previously Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV)) Upper Stage continues and the following information is provided to assist Industry in planning for upcoming acquisitions."

Editor's note: Meanwhile, ESMD AA Scott Horowitz has been using the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) at LaRC as an ad hoc Skunk Works to try and rehabilitate CLV and CEV designs that his "Smart Buyer" and engineering teams at JSC and MSFC have already found to have serious flaws. Most concerns focus on the "Stick". Stay tuned, doubts not withstanding, CEV contractor selection is still on track for 7 September 2006.

NASA LaRC Solicitation: Sensors for Lunar Landing System

"We are requesting information concerning existing, prototype and conceptual sensors capable of providing Altimetry, Velocimetry, Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) and Hazard Detection and Avoidance (HDA) measurements for lunar landing vehicles as set forth in the attachments. This document is for information and planning purposes and to allow industry the opportunity to verify reasonableness and feasibility of the requirement, as well as promote competition."

Editor's note: When ARC did something like this recently, MSFC went into full battle alert mode, screamed to NASA HQ Code L and Congress (once again) about turf encroachment, and eventually had the procurement killed. Let's see what happens this time. Note to Dave King: per direction from Mike Griffin, you are not supposed to whine run to Congress when you don't agree with what the agency is doing. Fight that urge.

  • NASA ARC Solicitation: Micro-Lander Propulsion System
  • Dave King's Less Than Accurate Statement About RLEP
  • Horowitz Yanks RLEP Away From ARC - Gives it to MSFC
  • Editor's note: From "Inside Marshall" (internal access only): "The Ares I Quarterly Progress Report #1 is available for viewing on Inside Marshall. The video showcases Marshall-led test activities conducted across the country at partnering NASA centers and industry facilities for the design and development of NASAs future launch vehicles, Ares I and Ares V keys to NASAs exploration goals to return to the moon and travel to Mars and beyond. Closed captioning is available. To view the video, click a link below.

    Real Player
    Windows Media w/cc

    Back To The Future (2)

    Old rocket science tied to today's at Marshall, Birmingham News

    "Marshall engineers recently removed parts from a Saturn I rocket on display at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, said Al Whitaker, spokesman for that museum. "We've had folks from NASA and subcontractors looking at the old Saturn V (display) ... and in the archives over the course of the last year and a half or so," he said."

    Back To The Future, earlier post

    One Man's Rest is Another Man's Research, NASA JSC

    "Astronaut Don Thomas visited members of the bed rest study in June, posing for souvenir photos -- like this one, with volunteer Beth Ann Shriber -- and expressing gratitude for their work: "Twenty years from now, when we land on Mars, I hope you're watching it," he told them. "I really appreciate the effort you're putting in. This is important stuff."

    Editor's note: Meanwhile George Viebranz has begun his 3 month bedrest stint at the Cleveland Clinic - the same facility where Erin Peterson participated in an earlier study. Visit his blog and say hello. Once again there is zero interest by NASA GRC PAO in what is going on at Cleveland Clinic.

    Earthbound Astronaut Stands Up - And NASA Ignores Her, earlier post

    AMASE 2006 Updates

    Kirsten Fristad's NASA Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition Field Reports

    "The last two days have been very busy with instrument testing, gathering last minute supplies and attending an arctic training course. The cold temperatures here pose a serious challenge to our instruments here as it can greatly affect our power consumption, pressure readings and pumping capabilities."

    NASA Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition Field Reports:

    Lunar Charlatans

    Editor's note: Alas, Mars Society leader Bob Zubrin just can't seem to fight the urge to go after people who do not agree with his plans 100%. In this case, he lumps anyone who sees value in lunar exploration (which would have to include Mike Griffin) into a rather strange classification.

    Mars aboveground (movie review), The Space Review

    "One of Zubrin's public speaking weaknesses is his inability to hide his contempt for anybody who disagrees with him. Most of his verbal ticks don't come through in the documentary, but his contempt for NASA and those who question his philosophy and technical ideas do rise to the surface at times. A polite way to say it is that he does not suffer fools gladly, except that Zubrin obviously considers the population of fools to be very large. Like many very intelligent people who are passionate about their ideas, he exhibits little patience for those who do not simply take his word that something is possible and want to check his math and maybe his chemistry as well."

    Lost History

    One giant blunder for mankind: how NASA lost moon pictures, Sydney Morning Herald

    "...just 37 years after Apollo 11, it is feared the magnetic tapes that recorded the first moon walk - beamed to the world via three tracking stations, including Parkes's famous "Dish" - have gone missing at NASA's Goddard Space Centre in Maryland. A desperate search has begun amid concerns the tapes will disintegrate to dust before they can be found."

  • Comments by NASA AA for Legislative Affairs Brian Chase at the Mars Society Convention
  • Presentation by NASA AA for Exploration Systems Scott Horowitz
  • Remarks by Michael Griffin to the Mars Society

    "... NASA's stakeholders at the White House and Congress have provided clear direction on the policies and programs that the Agency must carry out. And so, while some of you might wish it to be otherwise, NASA's strategic goals are neither solely nor initially focused upon Mars. We are charged with carrying out a broad portfolio of missions in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research. With the resources projected to be available to NASA over the next five years, properly balanced with our other national priorities of Earth and space science as well as aeronautics research, NASA is on course to complete the International Space Station by 2010 and to bring the CEV on-line no later than 2014."

    Ares 1 Update

    New details on Ares 1, Orlando Sentinel

    "The "biggest unknown" for engineers remains how to control the Ares 1's steering and roll during flight. Engineers are using computer models and other analyses to solve the problem."

    Editor's note: multiple sources have reported that MSFC engineers have looked to video from the Challenger accident to see how SRBs fly on their own.

    Editor's note: Two new HMP Research Station webcams are now online and updating every 10 minutes. These webcams are sponsored by SpaceRef and make use of new PlanetNet wireless technology, a CSA funded experiment, led by Simon Fraser University. This brings a total of four webcams now available from Devon Island including the two from the Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse.

  • Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse Webcams Online
  • NASA JSC Solicitation: Constellation Space Suit System (CSSS)

    "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)/Johnson Space Center (JSC) may issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the design, development, certification, production, and sustaining engineering of a space suit system to meet the needs of the Constellation Program. Industry is invited to submit a response to this inquiry to assist NASA in the planning for the Constellation Space Suit System (CSSS) acquisition development. The contemplated CSSS procurement is not a follow-on effort to any existing contract. The Government does not intend to acquire a commercial item using FAR Part 12. See Note 26."

    ESA Huygens Scientific Archive Data Set Released, ESA

    "The unique data obtained by the six Huygens experiments are now being archived in the ESA Planetary Science Archive (PSA). A copy of the archived data set is also available in the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS). Access to the Huygens archive is open from today to the wide scientific community."

    NASA MSFC's Lunar e-Library Puts Space History to Work, Marshall Star (NASA MSFC)

    "The free DVD document collection is available to NASA and aerospace professionals and can be obtained by filling out two forms ..."

    Editor's note: This article is a little misleading. When you go to the links in this story you learn that "this DVD knowledgebase contains 1100 (.PDF) items with an emphasis on documents produced during the Apollo/Saturn era". But when you see how to get a copy you get a stern warning that "Distribution: Available upon request to US citizens only" and that "All software developed or provided through the SEE Program server has been determined to have export restrictions.". You also have to sign some scary agreements.

    I'll be willing to bet that most - if not all of the material included in this compendium is easily available without restriction elsewhere - and has been so for decades (look here). If there are some truly sensitive things in there why not deal with that stuff on a case-by-case basis separately - instead of just dumping everything into the "U.S. Citizens-only" category.

    This is most curious. Data (much of it public domain) from a lunar program completed more than a third of a century ago is still considered too sensitive to share with other countries - yet we are trying to get them to join in on the VSE and go back to the very same Moon. At the same time we openly share things on ISS using much more recent hardware - and ESA is willing to share all that it learned from Huygens. Something is a little lopsided here.

    I spent 3 minutes and started an annotated version of this page showing materials available online. Anyone who has some links to add (or comments about this secrecy policy) send them to me at nasawatch@reston.com.

    Mars Institute HMP EVA Medical Evacuation Simulation Update 1 August 2006

    "The 2006 HMP Lunar Medical Contingency Simulation demonstrated that an injured suited crewmember could be safely extracted from difficult terrain, similar to what might be expected in a lunar EVA, and transported to a remote site for diagnostic and therapeutic care. A number of issues developed unexpectedly during the sim that challenged the crew and sim planners. However, the team was able to complete the mission, which involved real-time communications and coordination between members of the Exploration Payload Operations Center at NASA-Johnson Space Center, International Space University in Strasburg, France, and the Payload Tele-Operations Center in Ottawa, Canada."



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

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