Exploration: January 2008 Archives

Distant Memorials

Constructing the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial Inukshuk on Devon Island

"On Wednesday, 18 July 2007, Leroy Chiao, Matt Reyes, myself and a group of Inuit students constructed a memorial inukshuk on Devon Island to honor the crew of Space Shuttle Challenger."

Arctic Memorials and Starship Yearnings

"Our task was a somewhat solemn one. We were here to erect a memorial to Columbia astronaut Michael Anderson. Two memorials have already been erected by members of the HMP Team. The memorials take the form of an inukshuk, a stone sculpture in rough human form used by the Inuit to mark territory. These stone structures serve as reference points for those who traverse this desolate place."

Alt.VSE Update

Scientists Hope to Adjust the President's Vision for Space, Science (subscription)

"When U.S. President George W. Bush laid out his plan for a revamped civilian space program in January 2004, he said it would provide "a great and unifying mission for NASA." That expansive vision included a launcher to replace the shuttle, a lunar base, and a slew of robotic missions to the moon and Mars that would put smiles on the faces of even the most skeptical planetary scientists. But 4 years later, that vision has instead triggered a civil war among competing interests within the space community. Some space researchers want to delay the launcher and a lunar base to protect the stalled science budget, whereas industry lobbyists are pressing hard to speed up those schedules."

50 Years Ago Today

First U.S. Satellite a Triumph of American Ability and Vision, AIA

NASA JPL Explorer 1 website

Explorer I Resolution Introduced to Commemorate 50th Anniversary of the Birth of the U.S. Space Program

"January 31, 2008 marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first U.S. satellite - Explorer I - and the dawn of the U.S. space program. Leaders of the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology marked that anniversary with the introduction of a U.S. House Resolution late yesterday remembering the landmark day and the remarkable advances the U.S. space program has yielded."

The following 4 videos offer different views of the launch and mission of Explorer 1. In the first video, MSgt. Stuart Queen talks about the Explorer 1 launch: "as a giant rocket was catapaulted into outer space".

Scott Parazynski at the Explorers Club: The Story of the International Space Station and the Mother of all Roadside Service Calls

"Tonight, The Explorers Club invites you to join Dr. Parazynski as he takes you along on one of the most dangerous spacewalks in NASA's history: enduring seven hours and 19 minutes of time working in the vacuum of space while risking potential electrical shock, sharp objects that could puncture his spacesuit and a long journey back to the safety of the station."

Editor's note: An effort to examine alternate approaches to NASA's current Vision for Space Exploration has been in the news of late. For every one of these efforts that makes the news, several others - also involving people of equal stature within the space community - are also underway albeit without nearly as much fanfare.

NASA will have a hard time arguing with some of the logic that enters into and emerges out of these activities. Some alternate architectures will be mostly science-driven whereas the VSE is destination/Presidential decree-driven. Some will be a hybrid - with commerical goals included.

All approaches will have merits. All will have weaknesses.

To be honest, I am a bit agnostic about the specific destinations so long as the policy is inherently logical, linked to a firm budget, politically realistic, linked to commercial opportunities, and harnessed to engineering reality - so long as the endpoint is expansion away from Earth in a self-perpetuating and sustaining fashion. If done properly, we'll eventually get to visit everything.

If we reset the VSE every election cycle I am a bit afraid that each reiteration will be weaker than the previous one - and that NASA will be (rightly) accused of having attention deficit disorder.

However, forces are aligning that seek to refine/replace George Bush's VSE - and there is not much NASA can do about this if the notion catches on - especially if this effort has the support of one or more of Bush's prospective successors.

The legacy we all should be thinking about leaving behind as we dabble in alternate visions must be how vibrant the notion of a "vision" for space exploration is. And in so doing, we must assure that whatever vision emerges and moves forth to become our nation's next iteration of space exploration quidance is able to morph and adapt to changing circumstances - such that the core notion of exploration and moving forward - and outward - is always retained.

Moon Stuck, Aviation Week

Letter to the Editor Regarding Aviation Week Article "Moon Stuck"

Examining the Vision - Balancing Science and Exploration (Draft agenda, speakers)

"10:00 - 11:30 Panel: Space Science as Exploration Moderator: Len Fisk Panelists: Wes Huntress, John Klineberg, Doc Horowitz, Owen Garriott"

Alt.VSE Update

Dissent Grows as Scientists Oppose NASA's New Moon Mission, Popular Mechanics

"NASA's current plan for manned space exploration focuses on establishing a base on the moon, as a vital stepping stone for a visit to Mars. The initiative has been trumpeted by the Bush administration, which wants the first mission to launch by 2020. But trouble is brewing as a growing group of former mission managers, planetary scientists and astronauts argues against any manned moon mission at all. One alternative, they say: Send astronauts to an asteroid as a better preparation for a Martian landing."

ESAS 101 For Dummies

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin's Remarks to the Space Transportation Association (with audio)

"Today's topic is motivated by the inquiries I've had lately, in one forum or another, concerning various aspects of NASA's post-Shuttle spaceflight architecture. None of the questions is new, and all of them were elucidated during our Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS)... But more than two years have gone by, and the logic behind the choices we made has receded into the background. People come and go, new questioners lacking subject matter background appear, and the old questions must be answered again if there is to be general accord that NASA managers are allocating public funds in a responsible fashion."

Editor's note: I just find it curious that Mike Griffin can get so thin skined as to refer to my question's tone as being "pejorative" and then be snide and insulting in response when I declined to "remove that tone" - and then turn around and say - using a pejorative term - that his employee "screwed up" a moment later. Gee Mike, I know I'm not a pleasant person to interact with, but isn't there a more professional way you could have characterized Jeff Hanley's actions?

Mike Griffin speaks and takes questions at the Space Transportation Association Breakfast, 22 January 2008, Washington DC

Cowing: Last week I asked a question of ESMD Public Affairs about whether the Ares 1-Y flight had been delayed. They replied "NASA has not announced a 12 month postponement of any Ares or Orion test flights and has no plans to do so". Yet several days before that. Jeff Hanley, the Constellation program manager, wrote a memo that said exactly that - that he had internal plans and changes and that the Ares 1-Y had been shifted by one year. Now, are you going to be shifting the launch of Ares 1-Y and if not, why is your Constellation Program Manager announcing this to more than 80 people within the agency?

Griffin: Well, if you could take the pejorative tone out of your voice I'll actually try and answer your question.

Cowing: No ... I'm not going to remove it.

Griffin: You're not going to remove the pejorative tone from your voice?

Cowing: No sir.

Griffin: I guess you're not capable of it. Um .. I'll answer your question.

Um, actually, Jeff screwed up.

Blog; NASA/NSF/ILC Dover Antarctica 2008

"11 Jan Today started with the Inflatable Hab fully inflated on the site. Most of the morning was spent making sure the anchors were in place properly and outfitting the interior. Work continued on the preparation of the sensors and the "weather station" was installed. This will help folks back at JSC monitor the actually conditions at the structure's site after we leave and during it's one year deployment. The floor was also installed."

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."

Moon Stuck, Aviation Week & Space Technology

"Some of the most influential leaders of the space community are quietly working to offer the next U.S. president an alternative to President Bush's "vision for space exploration"--one that would delete a lunar base and move instead toward manned missions to asteroids along with a renewed emphasis on Earth environmental spacecraft. Top U.S. planetary scientists, several astronauts and former NASA division directors will meet privately at Stanford University on Feb. 12-13 to define these sweeping changes to the NASA/Bush administration Vision for Space Exploration (VSE)."

Sir Edmund Hillary, a Pioneering Conquerer of Everest, Dies at 88, NY Times

"Sir Edmund Hillary, the lanky New Zealand mountaineer and explorer who with Tenzing Norgay, his Sherpa guide, won worldwide acclaim in 1953 by becoming the first to scale the 29,035-foot summit of Mount Everest, the worlds tallest peak, has died, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced Friday in Wellington. He was 88."

Sir Edmund Hillary, Honorary Chair, Explorers Club

"In 1985, Hillary accompanied Neil Armstrong in a small, twin-engine ski plane over the Arctic Ocean and landed at the North Pole. He thus became the first man to stand at both poles as well as the summit of Everest."

current webcam current images - a tribute to Edmund Hillary, Hillary Field Centre briefing room, Scott Base, Antarctica

An Antarctic Photo Album, Dale Andersen, Astrobiology.com: "During a recent visit with our New Zealand colleagues, we had the opportunity to meet briefly with the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rt. Hon. Jim Bolger and others in his party including Sir Edmund Hillary."

Editor's note: Perhaps NASA can name a new, large feature on Mercury which will soon be discovered by MESSENGER after Edmund Hillary - and one for Tenzing Norgay as well.

Sir Edmund Hillary - The Man and His Mountain (1992), Joel Achenbach, Washington Post

"Sir Edmund Hillary and Neil Armstrong were on their way to the North Pole -- sounds like the set-up for a joke. But it happened six years ago, they were celebrity guests on some private polar expedition, and two famous explorers found themselves bunking down together in a hut above a frozen lake on an island in the Arctic Ocean. Two aging guys who long ago went somewhere far away and came back changed."

Is Space Exploration Worth the Cost? A Freakonomics Quorum, NY Times

"Keith Cowing, founder and editor of NASAWatch.com and former NASA space biologist. ... Right now, all of America's human space flight programs cost around $7 billion a year. That's pennies per person per day. In 2006, according to the USDA, Americans spent more than $154 billion on alcohol. We spend around $10 billion a month in Iraq. And so on. Are these things more important than human spaceflight because we spend more money on them? Is space exploration less important? Money alone is not a way to gauge the worthiness of the cost of exploring space."

Editor's note: Last month I submitted a series of questions to NASA ESMD PAO (see ESMD'S Revolving Door). After a delay of several weeks, I finally got a response which was some what lacking in detail. I was directed to approach NASA LaRC PAO since "NESC is an independent NASA entity and ESMD does not keep track of the duties of NESC employees."

I heard back from LaRC PAO today only a few days after asking my initial question.

ESMD's Revolving Door

Editor's update: I finally heard back from ESMD PAO today - three weeks after I asked them a few questions - and only after sending multiple emails. They replied "If you recall back when you originally posed your questions about Dr. Horowitz, I told you that he is a special government employee. Here, for your reference, a relevant excerpt from 18 US Code Section 202 that defines special government employee. And here's a link, if you want to look it up for yourself: http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00000202----000-.html. As you can see, a special government employee is employed directly by the federal government."

Alas they still have not answered all of the questions I asked i.e. Is Scott Horowitz working on composite structures for the CEV at the NESC? Did Scott Horowitz oversee and/or fund work on composite structures at the NESC while he was the ESMD AA?

Editor's update: I just got an answer - a non-answer - the same one that ESMD PAO sent me in November: "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."

In other words when I ask specific questions I cannot get a simple 'yes' or 'no' but instead get this non-answer with regard to what Horowitz is working on i.e "from time to time", "may or may not" etc. Why NASA ESMD PAO is being so elusive escapes me.

Editor's further update: But wait there's more: The latest email from ESMD PAO states: "NESC is an independent NASA entity and ESMD does not keep track of the duties of NESC employees. If you have further questions about Dr. Horowitz's specific duties, your best option is to ask the public affairs office at Langley, which serves NESC."

ESMD at NASA HQ sends multiple tasks down to NESC - many at the personal behest of Mike Griffin. Moreover, the former ESMD AA now works there. Yet NASA Headquarters does not know and/or cannot tell me what Horowitz - or other employees working on ESMD tasks - are doing?

Curiously, Horowitz's name is nowhere to be found on the NESC's official management chart. You'd think that someone of his prominence (past and present) would be listed.

And yet then there is this picture on the NESC website - with an update of 19 December 2007 - that shows Horowitz sitting front and center at a Max Launch Abort System (MLAS) Team meeting with the caption "MLAS team members pictured above, attending a technical interchange meeting held at LaRC in November 2007." Horowitz left his position at NASA in October 2007.

As for what people are doing at NESC, a November 2007 presentation by NESC Director Ralph Roe states "NASA's Former Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Scott Horowitz, asked the NESC to develop an alternate design as risk mitigation for the Orion Launch Abort System (LAS) concept. The alternate concept will be demonstrated by a pad aboard test." It sure sounds to me like they have been sending design work to NESC. I cannot imagine that ESMD does not have the same level of oversight/insight into this task as they do with other Orion and Ares tasks at other NASA locations.

Curiously Horowitz is shown attending a meeting focused on a task that he himself sent to NESC while ESMD AA - and he is doing so as a "special employee" at NESC after he left his ESMD AA position.

Earlier postings below.

Second Life To Mars

NASA Dreams of an Interplanetary 'Second Life' for Mars Crew, Wired

"... But NASA thinks it has an answer to the psychological challenge of interplanetary isolation. While aerospace engineers are designing the Ares rockets to be deployed in the Mars missions, a more starry-eyed contingent at NASA is testing networking and virtual reality technologies that they think will connect the first wave of Mars pioneers with their families, friends and colleagues back on Earth, in a 3-D virtual world cut from the mold of Second Life or World of Warcraft. "We want to help our remote explorers 'phone home' in a way that lets them sit around a dinner table with their family, help their children with homework and analyze the latest findings with their Earth-bound peers," says Jeanne Holm, chief knowledge architect at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory."



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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Exploration category from January 2008.

Exploration: December 2007 is the previous archive.

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