Exploration: October 2006 Archives

Investing in the VSE

NASA Invests in Its Future With Venture Capital Firm, Washington Post

"Red Planet marks the first time that the federal government has started a venture capital fund for civilian purposes, but it is hardly a stretch. That is because a former president of the CIA-sponsored venture fund is Michael D. Griffin -- now the administrator of NASA."

NBS Reunion

NASA MSFC Neutral Buoyancy Simulator Reunion

Editor's note: Author and former NASA engineer Homer Hickam (website) has provided these photos from the NBS (Neutral Buyoancy Simulator) Reunion at MSFC this past Sunday. Homer is one of the former NBS divers and suggests that "the tank could be ready in no time to train the next bunch of HST repair astros!" Top photo: Homer standing on the top deck of the NBS. Bottom photo: group photo of volunteer divers and staff.

Findings of the NASA Mars Forward Lunar Objectives Science Analysis Group (Draft)

"The Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) has completed a preliminary analysis of the June, 2006 draft list of possible lunar objectives from the perspective of its relevance to preparation for human missions to Mars.

MEPAG has reached eight preliminary findings."

NASA's Challenge

"[Scott Horowitz] does not promise that this budget will be enough to get astronauts to Mars, however. Instead, he echoes a refrain heard frequently from Griffin: Americans won't complain about giving NASA more money once they understand what a tiny a piece of federal spending the agency accounts for."

Editor's note: Oh c'mon Scott. This has been true for decades and the general public has *never* been able to grasp NASA's relevance to the overall budget nor express concern or outrage even if they do learn of how little we spend on the agency. To base the success of the VSE (its future funding) on this premise is totally naive - especially when you consider NASA's ability to communicate its relevance and importance and your boss' antipathy to any sort of cogent community and public relations. Indeed, the President does not even mention the VSE in his own National Space Policy!

Another Curious Omission

Speech by NASA Administrator Griffin at the NASA Langley Colloquium Series Sigma Public Lecture Series

Editor's note: Curiously, in this presentation made at LaRC today, Griffin cites a speech by OSTP Director Marburger, the President's original January 2004 VSE presentation, and the NASA Authorization Act of 2005. Yet no specific mention is made of the new National Space Policy quietly released 2 weeks ago - a document strong on national security and defense.

Marshall set to blow a hole in the moon, Huntsville Times

"Marshall is developing two lunar missions that will be launched on the same rocket in October 2008 as part of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter program. The orbiter will take high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface, and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite will be crashed into the moon to create a plume of lunar material. "We want to see what comes out, and hopefully there will be water" in the crater and surrounding debris, said Tony Lavoie, manager of the Marshall Lunar Precursor and Robotics Program.

Editor's note: Wait a minute, Tony. The last time I checked, LCROSS was being developed at ARC - or has MSFC taken this project away from ARC as well?

Belligerent Tone Mars U.S. Administration Space Policy, Lou Friedman, Planetary Society

"The policy is officially a revision of the policy issued ten years ago by the Clinton Administration and, in content, it makes relatively minor changes from previous U.S. policy. But is not the content that has attracted so much attentionit is the tone in which it is expressed. It is belligerent and bellicose, and reminiscent of a schoolyard bully."

Editor's note: Finally, someone has taken the time to craft a response to the new space policy that is well written and doesn't rely on inaccurate arm waving (Bill Nye) or misquotes (NY Times).

Editor's note: In its most recent anti-NASA editorial on the White House space policy, the anonymous author takes a cheap shot at NASA Administrator Mike Griffin by taking his comments out of context. Moreover, they do so in an attempt to make you think that Griffin's ulterior motives are far different than a full reading of his prepared remarks put forth:

Flexing Our Muscles in Space, editorial, NY Times

"The Bush administration has adopted a jingoistic and downright belligerent tone toward space operations. In a new "national space policy" posted without fanfare on an obscure government Web site, and in recent speeches, it has signaled its determination to be pre-eminent in space - as it is in air power and sea power - while opposing any treaties that might curtail any American action there."

Editor's note: If you go to this page on NASA.gov you will see this notice: "U.S. National Space Policy - PDF of the U.S. National Space Policy, released Oct. 6, 2006. (This link downloads the document from the Office of Science and Technology Policy Web site. NASA cannot warrant its permanent availability.)". Why can't NASA post this policy on its own website? It has been two weeks. Why haven't they issued a press release to let people know that this new policy exists and where to read it?

- White House Issues New Space Policy Document, 6 October NASA Watch posting
- Space Policy Is Not on Tony Snow's Top Ten List, earlier posting
- Bill Nye Is A Little Confused, earlier posting

Lunar Lander Challenge

Editor's note: Want to keep up with the Lunar Lander Challenge? Check out this blog by Robin Snelson.

NAC Update

NASA Advisory Council Meeting Notes, SpaceRef

"Clearly there are a lot of tight curves NASA and its partners need to navigate as the remainder of the ISS is lofted into orbit. How the U.S. is going to use the ISS in the near term was also an issue. With an emphasis on assembling the station, utilization is all but non-existent until such time as the majority of the ISS is on orbit. The NAC is seeking to understand the utilization plans for ISS as well as what its designation by Congress as a "national laboratory" actually means in actual practice."

Northrop Grumman to Sponsor Lunar Lander Challenge

"The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge will be staged for the first time on Oct. 20-21 at the Las Cruces International Airport, Las Cruces, N.M. as part of the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup space exposition."

CBO Report: Alternatives for Future U.S. Space-Launch Capabilities, Congressional Budget Office

"In considering manned lunar missions, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) explored alternatives that would use existing launch vehicles; those that would require minor modifications to the designs of existing launchers (termed "close derivatives"); as well as those that would call for major modifications to existing vehicle designs to develop essentially new and much more capable launchers."

Workshop Report: Building and Maintaining the Constituency for Long-Term Space Exploration

"This report documents the results of an invitation-only experts' Workshop organized and hosted by the Center for Aerospace Policy Research in the School of Public Policy of George Mason University July 31-August 3, 2006. Thirty-eight participants, mainly from the U.S., with some from Europe and Canada, were brought together to discuss the topic of "Building and Maintaining the Constituency for Long-Term Space Exploration."

Editor's note: This interesting report is well done and worth reading. Now if only NASA will pay attention to the issues raised in this report during the NASA Strategic Communications Workshop being held this week in Washington.

Communicating Visions, AIAA Houston Section

"... That got me thinking. How can NASA communicate with the public more effectively - not necessarily just regarding the Vision, but overall? There may be an as-yet untried way for NASA to help get the picture across.

During the years from about 1930 to 1960, news items were spliced together into short "newsreels" and shown at the local theatre before a feature film. Imagine the ET-cam footage, or a selection of Saturn or Mars images presented on the big screen prior to a movie."

Communicating Exploration

Exploration, Science, and Art: A Book Review of Terra Antarctica and Driving to Mars, SpaceRef

"When it comes to exploration, there's nothing like being there. Yet at some point, all explorers need to tell others what they have seen - as well as find a way to understand and recall the experience themselves. Exploration is pointless if it is not shared.

It is the process whereby explorers put new vistas and experiences into a context they can internalize - and then how these impressions are shared with others that fascinates author William Fox. In his two most recent books "Terra Antarctica" and "Driving to Mars" Fox recounts his own experiences - and those of others - at Earth's two poles."

U.S. National Space Policy, Office of Science and Technology Policy

"The President authorized a new national space policy on August 31, 2006 that establishes overarching national policy that governs the conduct of U.S. space activities. This policy supersedes Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-49/NSTC-8, National Space Policy, dated September 14, 1996."

Partnership in Space Activities - Speech by NASA Administrator Griffin at the International Astronautical Congress 3 October 2006

"Space exploration, whether human or robotic, is still the grandest and most technically challenging expression of human imagination of which I can conceive. Thus, I believe it to be in our best interests in this unique human endeavor to work together on occasion, to ask each other as different countries and different cultures how we should go about solving the unique problems of this unique endeavor."

Editor's note: I also spoke in Valencia recently - last Friday to be exact. I addressed the Space Generation Congress. But unlike Mike Griffin who has to use airplanes, I used magic.



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

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