Exploration: November 2007 Archives

Express Yourself

National Space Society Space Settlement Art Contest

"The National Space Society is sponsoring an art contest in which artists are to create visions of a spacefaring future - a future of space settlement, be they on the Moon, on Mars, on asteroids, or orbiting independently in space. Twelve winning entries will be chosen to illustrate the NSS 2008 Space Settlement Calendar. Judges include space artists Don Davis and David Robinson. Artists may submit multiple works and submissions will be accepted until December 31, 2007."

From the Moon to Mars - The Things We Most Need to Learn at the Moon to Support the Subsequent Human Exploration of Mars, PDF, LEAG Workshop on Enabling Exploration: Background of the Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0

North Pole video history: NASA Mike, "our first was in 1999", Explorers Web

"The first live videos from the 90N Pole were done by my NASA team on April 28, 1999 (time and day depending on where we were facing, of course). The first one lasted ~30 minutes. It used the NASA TDRS-F1 satellite, which is geosynchronous and for about two hours it was visible above the horizon at 90N. The maximum elevation was just under 1 degree."

Editor's 21 Nov note: The following is from NASA's X.500 server. I have a request into ESMD PAO asking what Horowitz's job is.

commonName: S HOROWITZ
commonName: S J HOROWITZ
userClass:Organization: NASA ENGINEERING & SAFETY CTR Employer: NASA
uniqueID: LA1102CK
Org-Code: C1
Type-Code: N
Foreign National: US
postalAddress:NASA Langley Research CenterHampton, VA 23681-2199

Editor's 23 Nov note:According to an email from ESMD PAO in response to my inquiry: "Scott Horowitz is serving NASA in a very limited capacity as a special government employee. On occasion, he is called in as a technical advisor reporting to Ralph Roe, who manages the NASA Engineering and Safety Center. From time to time, Horowitz will be asked to review projects and milestones that may or may not be part of NASA's Constellation Program. Horowitz has not taken an office at the Langley Research Center. He continues to live and work in Park City, Utah."

Doing Your Homework On Earth

Using a Planetary Analog To Test a Prototype Inflated Habitat for NASA, SpaceRef

"I had a chance to visit the manufacturing facilities at ILC Dover in Frederica, Delaware last week to see the new inflatable habitat that they have developed. Together, NASA, ILC Dover, and NSF will put this habitat through a one-year test at McMurdo Station in Antarctica starting in January 2008. How this team came to chose this design - and develop it to this point of development - reaches back decades for its inspiration - also uses cutting edge technology to bring it to reality."

NASA Plans to Test Lunar Habitat in Extreme Antarctic Environment

"NASA will use the cold, harsh, isolated landscape of Antarctica to test one of its concepts for astronaut housing on the moon. The agency is sending a prototype inflatable habitat to Antarctica to see how it stands up during a year of use. Agency officials viewed the habitat Wednesday at ILC Dover in Frederica, Del., as it was inflated one last time before being packed and shipped to Antarctica's McMurdo Station. NASA is partnering on the project with the National Science Foundation, Arlington, Va., which manages McMurdo Station, and ILC Dover, the company that manufactured the prototype structure. All three organizations will share data from the 13-month test, which runs from January 2008 to February 2009."

Editor's note: I have added a video (below) NASA shot inside this habitat. A full article will be online about this (and other) habitats and planetary analogs on Monday. There is a portion of the video that is sped up showing how this module is inflated from flat to fully operational in just 11 minutes.


Human Spaceflight: With Risk, We Need Purpose, Planetary Society

"If the NASA connected the work on the ISS to human exploration of other worlds and reaching Mars sometime in the foreseeable future, the adventure of EVA and space station construction would be more publicly engaging. If NASA could declare that Scott Parazynski's work was not just a death-defying feat, but instead was an illustrative and instructive about death-defying work that will be necessary to accomplish Mars missions, then the story would be more compelling." ...

... "I recognize there is no strong consensus for a political and budget commitment to send humans to Mars, but repeatedly we have seen that without progress toward the Mars destination, human spaceflight programs lack purpose and suffer from weak public support."

Editor's note: Spot on, Lou.

Alas, Mike Griffin has stated more than once that he does not like the space station that is being built - and has said much less complementary things about its utility in private. As such, the agency's leader is plodding along checking all the boxes on the ISS assembly plan - all the while wishing he could be doing something else. And it shows. In so doing he tells people to focus not on the ISS, but rather, somewhere else - on yet another hundred billion-plus human spaceflight endeavor.

NASA suffers from chronic, institutional Attention Deficit Disorder. Why should anyone accept NASA's reasons for spending all of this money if its own leader finds himself so easily distracted by the next new shiny program?

Editor's note: At one point in the hearing Mike Griffin lamented "I'm doing the best that I can to chart our course out of it. I did not put us into this position, I'm doing the best I can to get out of it but if you think I like it, you would be wrong."

I beg to differ, Mike. You most certainly did get the agency into the predicament that it is in today. Instead of going off and reinventing the wheel (Ares 1) you could have bought EELVs off the shelf from a ULA catalog and focused only on CEV development. You forced a rigid and recycled architecture upon the agency - one that requires large monolithic launchers - when in fact you could have come up with one that used existing launchers or straightforward derivations thereof.

This happened on your watch, Mike. It is about time that you started to accept the responsibility for it.

NASA: $2 billion to jumpstart Constellation program, Orlando Sentonel

"If NASA is to close the five-year gap between retirement of the space shuttle and the first launch of its successor, the space agency needs $2 billion more in funding over the next three years, NASA officials told a U.S. Senate subcommittee on Thursday. The money would enable NASA to launch its first Constellation mission in September 2013, rather than the current March 2015 projection. But it's uncertain whether NASA allies can find the dollars on Capitol Hill."

Editor's note: The $1 billion that Sens. Mikulski and Hutchison pushed through for Shuttle return to Flight costs has now apparently disappeared. As such, the notion that this White House - one which has already walked away from its financial committment to the VSE - would suddenly spring for this extra money is laughable.

"NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said he agreed with Nelson, but the agency now was a victim of poor foresight by previous NASA leaders and Congress."

Editor's note: So ... instead of using rockets that already existed to loft the CEV, Griffin spent money on developing a new rocket from scratch - and gutted numerous NASA programs in the process. I wonder how this will be viewed by the person who replaces him in 2009 ...

US Lawmakers Grill Space Agency on Plans for Shuttle Retirement, VOA

"I do not want to leave this hearing or this committee with the impression that we are in a good position," he said. "We are not. The failure to plan for a successor to the space shuttle, and to bring it online in a timely way, was a failure of U.S. strategic planning. We are not in the position I would wish the United States to be in. We are, I think, doing the best that can be done."

Editor's note: Gee Mike, did you happen to mention these concerns to the White House when you interviewed for the job of NASA Administrator? Isn't it a little late in the game to start complaining? Oh yes, you do know that it is your current boss (President Bush) who approved this whole VSE in the first place - including the gap between Shuttle and CEV, right?

NASA GRC Solicitation: Design Fabrication and Testing of a Full Scale Power Conversion Unit PCU for Fission Surface Power

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Glenn Research Center (GRC) at Lewis Field is planning the development of a Technology Demonstration Unit (TDU) for Fission Surface Power (FSP). The goal of the TDU is to assemble the major components (heat source, power conversion, heat rejection, power management and distribution) of a FSP system with a simulated nuclear heat source and conduct integrated system testing in thermal-vacuum to evaluate overall performance. FSP systems provide a potential option to support future human exploration missions on the Moon and Mars."

Kaguya (Selene) Images of Earth-Rise Over the Moon, JAXA (still images and movies)

"The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) have successfully performed the world's first high-definition image taking of an Earth-rise* by the lunar explorer "KAGUYA" (SELENE,) which was injected into a lunar orbit at an altitude of about 100 km on October 18, 2007 (Japan Standard Time. Following times and dates are all JST.)"

Zooming Over The Moon

KAGUYA (SELENE) World's First Image Taken of the Moon by HDTV, JAXA

"The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) have successfully performed the world's first high-definition image taking by the lunar explorer "KAGUYA" (SELENE,) which was injected into a lunar orbit at an altitude of about 100 km on October 18, 2007, (Japan Standard Time. Following times and dates are all JST.)"

Movie flying over the lunar surface (very cool)

Germany's Moon Mission

Germany plans unmanned lunar orbit, Reuters

"Germany hopes to put an unmanned space craft into the moon's orbit in the early part of the next decade, a senior German official said on Wednesday."

Space Exploration: A Measure of American Competitiveness - Speech by NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin

"It is my goal to get these critics to recognize that the development of space is a strategic capability for our nation, a view completely in keeping with the founding principles of the American nation - pushing back the frontier. There was a time when the land upon which we stand here in Chicago lay far beyond our western frontier. Today, that frontier lies in space. We've sent out the first few explorers, and they returned with wondrous tales. In President Kennedy's famous words, "Now is the time to take longer strides". The geography of our solar system dictates that these next strides will again be to Earth's moon - three days journey away. But this time, a lunar outpost will follow soon afterward, allowing us to exploit its resources and its vantage point."

A reality check on dreams for space: the repairs, Christian Science Monitor

"The farther from Earth astronauts travel, the more acute maintenance challenges become, notes Larry Bell of the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture at the University of Houston. Planners try to build redundancy into critical systems and to provide the tools and materials for making some repairs. Indeed, one tool Parazynski used to handle the undulating solar array took shape from a sheet of Teflon and some insulating tape in the space station's workshop. But mission planners always face a trade-off between trying to plan for maintenance needs and keeping materials within the weight limits during launch. Especially when talking about trips to the moon or Mars, "it's a long way back to the hardware store," Dr. Bell says."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Exploration category from November 2007.

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