Exploration: April 2008 Archives

Everest Update

Scott Parazynski Everest Update: 30 April 2008 - Back at Base Camp, EverestOnOrbit

"Keith Cowing 30 April 2008 10:20 pm EST: I just got a phone call from Scott Parazynski at Everest Base Camp. He reports that he and his team feel great and that they returned to Everest Base Camp yesterday from Camp II after a 4 day stay. This was their second rotation up to Camp II which is also known as Advanced Base Camp. Camp II is located at 6,065 meters (19,900 feet)."

1st Day's Trek, NASA Everest Trek

"Yesterday we started the trek to Mt. Everest. We took a small prop plane from Kathmandu to Lukla. It was a short forty minute flight. The landing was very interesting, as the runway was built into a mountain. There was a cliff on one side and a rock wall on the other."

Reader note: "Dear NASA Watch, I thought some of the NASA Watch readers might be interested in the YouTube video(s) from a recent lecture by Jack Schmitt, head of the NASA Advisory Council. Jack spoke to a full house at an IMAX theater in Houston, fielded 40 minutes of questions, gave a lecture entitled "Return to the Moon: What it was like and what it will be like", and then fielded another 25 minutes of questions. Jack also signed copies of his book for 2.5 hours after the lecture events. I'd be glad to have half his stamina when I'm that age!"


NASA's 50th Anniversary Lecture By Professor Stephen Hawking

"Even if we were to increase the international budget 20 times to make a serious effort to go into space, it would only be a small fraction of world GDP. There will be those who argue that it would be better to spend our money solving the problems of this planet, like climate change and pollution, rather than wasting it on a possibly fruitless search for a new planet. I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change and global warming, but we can do that and still spare a quarter of a percent of world GDP for space. Isn't our future worth a quarter of percent?"

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale's Blog: Lecture by Professor Stephen Hawking

Hawking Lectures On Why Humans Should Go Into Space, Wired

Changing Travel Plans

Nepal bans reporting from Everest, BBC

"The Nepalese authorities have imposed a complete communication ban on journalists from the base camp upwards."

News blackout at Everest base camp, BBC

"We knew there were restrictions on satellite phones and video cameras but were now told that even pre-recorded radio material on non-political subjects would not be allowed. Nor would informal chats with the hundreds of mountaineers currently in the camp, the tourism ministry official, Prabodh Dhakal, said. If any mountaineer talked to the BBC, he or she would be expelled, he added."

Editor's 28 April note: Of course, I saw this coming too - it was inevitable.

Editor's 22 April note: To clarify a bit on my Everest trip since many of you have asked: less than 2 weeks from departure, after I had paid, my 25 day stay at Everest Base Camp was suddenly cut by the climbing guide company to 10 days (with no explanation) while the cost of getting there was more or less identical. I was given no basic information as to what electronic items I could/could not bring with me. I cancelled my trip with great reluctance (an understatement) due to lack of confidence in what I could expect once I arrived.

Bulldozers On The Moon

Click on image to enlarge

Cat shoots for the moon - Company teams with NASA to build habitats, roads on lunar surface, Journal Star

"Caterpillar and NASA - the National Aeronautics and Space Administration - are getting closer to having the right earthmoving - er, moonmoving - equipment available to put on the moon in less than a decade to build habitats, roads and other infrastructure that could sustain life on the lunar surface. "We're pretty far along. I would say our partnership with Caterpillar is right on schedule," said Lucien Junkin, NASA's chief engineer of the Chariot project the two have been working on since 2006."

Editor's note: This is all very cool, but I can't seem to find the agreement or solicitation whereby this "partnership" between NASA and Caterpillar was put in place. Of course, it is certainly quite logicial for NASA to work with companies who already engage in many of the activities that will be performed on the moon. I am wondering why NASA has not made more public mention of this agreement and the interesting work it facilitates.

Video, Caterpillar (link is sometimes not functioning)

Editor's update: I have now learned that this partnership is the result of one of the NASA Innovative Partnership Programs (IPP) FY 07 Seed Fund awards.

Editor's note: The 10 meter sailing vessel Berrimilla completed a circumnavigation of the world via Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, (http://www.berrimilla.com) during which her crew, Alex Whitworth and Pete Crozier, linked up with the crew of the International Space Station.

As a result of this contact, Alex and Pete were invited by Leroy Chiao, who was the Commander of the ISS during their contacts, and Keith Cowing to give a presentation about Berrimilla's voyage to a Risk and Exploration Symposium at Louisiana State University (co-chaired by Leroy and Keith), using the voyage as a simple analog for a journey into deep space.

After the Symposium, in a bar on the edge of LSU Campus, Pascal Lee drew a map in Alex's notebook. This became an invitation to undertake another, rather more symbolic voyage through the North West Passage to link up with the Haughton-Mars Project on Devon Island in time to observe the total solar eclipse on 1 August 2008.

Editor's update: Leroy and I are a bit concerned about our friend Alex. Read the following words and imagine, instead of worrying about reaching Dutch Harbor, Alaska, that he is talking about Mars and the problems he and his crew mates are having getting back to base in a dust storm with a broken rover. Talk of remaining electrical power evokes Apollo 13 issues. All previous updates are online here.

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 27 April 2008

"We have a smidge over 4000 miles to Dutch. The next 700 or so of that is potentially windless. We may or may not have an engine. We have about 300 litres of diesel and 5 litres of oil. We need about 3.5 amps to run the computer and instruments. The airgen can carry that - mostly - when we have wind.

So - lets say 40 days to Dutch. We desperately need wind - to motor 700 miles would use all our diesel but we can work the little breeze there is and squeak along. Yesterday we did 60 miles - so perhaps 11 - 12 days to the trades.

Seems to me that the best bet is to monitor the engine very carefully and use it as necessary to get through the holes and up to 5 deg N and - I hope - some real wind. We need to keep about 80 - 100 litres of diesel for the N pacific, so we have perhaps 200 litres or 100+ hours of motoring @ about 4 knots = about 400 miles of the 700.

Really skinny but manageable as long as the engine lasts. If the engine really has the dickies, then it's a long sail with very limited comms and whatever the airgen will give us to run the systems. Water will definitely be a problem."

Send a message to the crew of Berrimilla - post in their "Gustbook"

Afghanistan Heroes Offer to Colonize Moon, Mars and Beyond, LiveScience

"... on Wednesday I received an e-mail from SFC William H. Ruth of the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division stationed somewhere in Afghanistan. Sgt. Ruth wrote in response to SPACE.com Senior Editor Tariq Maliks story Monday about Prof. Stephen Hawkings belief in extraterrestrial life and he has a suggestion for NASA"

Establishing the Vision for Space Exploration, Dennis Wingo, SpaceRef

"To those of us who have committed our lives to the proposition that the exploration and development of space as the means by which we can build a prosperous global civilization that will last far beyond our current limits to growth, recent events have a familiar and depressing feel. There is a principle in the entrepreneurial world that if you present a business plan to an investor that does not meet their criterion for funding, you dont get funded. The same principle applies to government spending with the congress, executive branch and the people fulfilling the role of the investor."

Stephen Hawking calls for Moon and Mars colonies

"Stephen Hawking called for a massive investment in establishing colonies on the Moon and Mars in a lecture in honour of NASA's 50th anniversary. He argued that the world should devote about 10 times as much as NASA's current budget - or 0.25% of the world's financial resources - to space."

Scott Parazynski Everest Update: 19 April 2008 - Heading for Camp 1

"19 April 2008 4:00 am EST. Update by Keith Cowing. I just got a satellite phone call from Scott Parazynski at Everest base Camp. He was expecting to leave a voice mail when I picked up the phone. We had a short chat during which he updated me on his stay. Scott and his team have been at Everest Base Camp at an elevation of 5,380meters (17,700ft) on the south side of Mt. Everest in Nepal for a week now."

Editor's note: The 10 meter sailing vessel Berrimilla recently completed a circumnavigation of the world via Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, (http://www.berrimilla.com ) during which her crew, Alex Whitworth and Peter Crozier, linked up with the crew of the International Space Station. A number of interesting physical, psychological and planning similarities were apparent.

As a result of this contact, Alex and Peter were invited by Leroy Chiao, who was the Commander of the ISS during their contacts to give a presentation about Berrimilla's voyage to a Risk and Exploration Symposium at Louisiana State University (co-chaired by Leroy and Keith Cowing), using the voyage as a simple analogue for a journey into deep space.

After the Symposium, in a bar on the edge of LSU Campus, Pascal Lee drew a map in Alex's notebook and, perhaps foolishly, signed it.

This became an invitation to undertake another, rather more symbolic voyage through the North West Passage to link up with NASA's Haughton-Mars Project on Devon Island, which Pascal runs, in time to observe the total solar eclipse on August 1 2008.

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 18 April 2008

Listen up - Alex Right you lot - listen up and you can shout at me later. Some rather crudely potted philosophy - don't know whether I can get this into words that I like but it seems worth a go. I think I'm speaking for McQ here too, but she's asleep so can't ask her.

Review of NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program: An Interim Report

"On October 10-11, 2007, the committee held a general data-gathering meeting at which representatives from NASA headquarters briefed the members on the ETDP. The meeting was followed by site visits from subsets of the full committee to three NASA centers for detailed presentations on each of the 22 individual program projects. The results of the committee's study as of December 2007 are described in the present interim report. The committee's final report, described below, is planned for release in the summer of 2008."

Update From Axel Heiberg

McGill High Arctic Research Station (MARS) Status Report - Dale Andersen: 16 April 2008

"Here are a few more pictures and words for you regarding the CSA/McGill University Satellite system here at the CSA camp at Expedition Fiord on Axel Heiberg. Note that some engineering support was provided by NASA Ames - NASA Research and Engineering Network (NREN) engineer Ray Gilstrap. You can see him assembling one of the point to point wireless repeater bases we used."

Demand for Europe space rethink, BBC

"Despite [Lord Martin Rees] views, though, Europe is pursuing a vigorous human spaceflight policy and has so far spent 5bn euros ($8bn; 4bn) on the space station. Just last week, Esa unveiled a campaign to recruit the European astronauts of tomorrow. Britain has also hinted at a change in its long-standing opposition to human space activities following several high-profile reports. One, a specially convened government advisory panel, suggested the UK's policy has damaged the country both scientifically and economically."

Editor's note: It would seem that Lord Martin is in a distinct minority in regard to his anti-human spaceflight stance. Besides, we all know what Dr. Who would say - and he is much more in tune with reality.

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 13 April 2008

"We spoke on the satphone to Leroy and Karen for Yuri's night. Interesting change of circumstances - when Pete and I first spoke to Leroy, he was up there hurtling around in his concatenation of tin cans and plumbers tubing and we were on a speaker phone in the Falklands, at Arlette Betts' house. This time, we were in the vee-hicle, by no means hurtling though, and Leroy and Karen were on the speaker phone."

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 12 April 2008

"One small sip............

One small sip for humankind, one huge sip for Yuri. We thought a Consultation in his memory at lunchtime would be appropriate and it was. We have 3 versions of Dr Cooper's medicinal compound this time - one brewed by Pete, one by Steve and one by Jasper - and we think that with proper abstemiousness (abstention? or maybe that's just for the pollies)the supply will get us to Dutch. There is a small quantity of emergency rocket fuel as well, just in case."

NASA Chariot Tests

NASA plans to test lunar truck near Moses Lake, Columbia Basin Herald

NASA will launch lunar vehicle to Moses Lake, AP

"Central Washington might not seem like a lunar landscape to some people, but NASA sees enough similarities with the moon that it plans to test a prototype of a lunar vehicle there this summer. NASA is preparing to send astronauts to the moon by 2020 to build a lunar outpost. As part of that preparation, it's testing a prototype of a 1 ton lunar truck called the Chariot. NASA expects to begin testing the vehicle near the Grant County ORV Park on June 2 or 3 and finish about two weeks later, said Lucien Junkin, a robotics engineer and the design lead with the Johnson Space Center."

Down Under Mars

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 11 April 2008

"Plodding north - we're 30 miles NE of Crowdy Head and a smidge north of Lord Howe Island, so this is the furthest north I have ever been in Berri in the Pacific but I hope we can keep breaking that little stat. Just making 3 kts into the current - swell not so bad, lovely morning. Satphone rigged and seems to be working. Time for some coffee and a wad. I dont think today will be a hundred miler. Will now have to do complicated maths to work out what time it is in Texas and Louisiana for Yuri's night phone calls. Everything seems to be working so far...just a bit slow on the hoof"

Setting A Good Example

More than the Moon, editorial Eric Sterner, Washington Times

"In short, the high visibility of returning to the moon offers an opportunity to build the kind of "soft-power" that serves America's long-term national interests. The reverse is also true. Having made the commitment, laid out a plan, and started to develop capabilities, changes in direction can only send a message of American inconstancy. Procrastination, especially for short-term budget considerations, can only undermine faith in American leadership and priority setting. Failure to execute can only send a message of incompetence."

VSE on 60 Minutes

"NASA is preparing to return its astronauts to the moon, in preparation for a future mission to Mars. Bob Simon reports. Sunday, April 6, at 7 p.m. ET/PT on 60 Minutes (video)"

The Next Giant Leap For Mankind (video), 60 Minutes, CBS

"From the mountains of Utah to the factory floors of Cleveland, from the space center in Houston to the marshes of Virginia, spacesuits are being tested, rockets are being fired, and capsules are being designed. The United States is once again aiming to launch astronauts to the moon and yes, even, to Mars."

Mixed signals, editorial, Houston Chronicle

"It is unsettling that with time running out before the grounding of the shuttles, so much uncertainty remains, both with the Constellation replacement program and NASA employment projections. This, in fact, may be rocket science, but it seems the agency is sorely in need of some good old-fashioned long-term management and planning expertise."

Prepared Statement By Richard Gilbrech
Prepared Statement By Kathryn Thornton
Prepared Statement By Cristina Chaplain
Prepared Statement By Noel Hinners
Opening Statement By Chairman Mark Udall

"Thus, at a minimum, NASA needs to follow good program management practices and do its best to control costs, something the GAO witness will discuss. NASA also needs to do a better job of keeping Congress informed of its progress on critical initiatives, so we can determine if they are proceeding in the right way and on budget. In addition, it means that we need to make sure that NASA's Exploration program is structured in a way that ensures that the critical long-term exploration research and technology investments will be made."

NASA to Brief Media About Ares I Rocket Vibration Report

"NASA will host a media teleconference on Thursday, April 3, at 2:30 p.m. EDT to discuss findings from the Ares I thrust oscillation focus team. The team has been studying possible vibration concerns in the early designs of the new crew launch vehicle NASA is designing as part of the Constellation Program, which is building a spacecraft that will return humans to the moon by 2020."

Hearing Charter: NASA's Exploration Initiative: Status and Issues

Live Webcast

"On Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 10:00 a.m., the House Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics will hold a hearing to review the status of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Exploration initiative and examine issues related to its implementation.

  • Is NASA's strategy in designing the Orion CEV to first service the ISS and then upgrading it to enable lunar missions the most cost-effective approach? That is, is the upgrade approach, rather than designing a crewed vehicle capable of both missions at the onset, the most cost- effective approach?
  • What would be the effect on the March 2015 Initial Operating Capability (IOC) date for Orion and Ares I if NASA is funded at the FY 08 level required by a Continuing Resolution in FY09? Would this reduced level for Constellation Systems exacerbate the "gap" and if so, by how much?
  • Is it technically and programmatically possible to accelerate the Orion CEV's Initial Operating Capability (IOC) to a date earlier than March 2015 and still maintain a confidence level of 65%?
  • Will the March 2015 CEV IOC date slip if projected Shuttle retirement transition costs starting in FY2011 exceed NASA's goal of less than $500 million?
  • How close is NASA to resolving the Ares I thrust oscillation issue and will this issue have any impact on milestones leading up to the March 2015 IOC date?"

Scott Parazynski Everest Update: 3 April 2008 - Dingboche, Nepal

"Another wonderful but challenging day in the mountains! In an effort to get our bodies acclimatized to the thinner air of Everest Base Camp and above, we left our camp in Dingboche this morning and ascended a rather steep ridgeline above the valley, peaking at 16,400 feet above sea level."

Everest OnOrbit

Media Advisory: Announcement of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Trophy 2008 winners and unveiling of Trophy Artifacts case

"Col. Joseph W. Kittinger Jr., 2008 Lifetime Achievement Trophy"

Joseph Kittinger, WIkipedia

On August 16, 1960 he made the final jump from the Excelsior III at 102,800 feet (31,330 m). Towing a small drogue chute for stabilization, he fell for 4 minutes and 36 seconds reaching a maximum speed of 614 mph (989 km/h) before opening his parachute at 18,000 feet (5,500 m).

Mountaineering and Climbing on Mars

"Initial human missions to Mars will be a precious commodity wherein a maximum amount of information is gathered by each crew. As was the case during innumerable terrestrial missions of exploration, the Martian terrain that visiting crews must traverse in order to gain an understanding will often be difficult. This is accentuated by the fact that Mars is a world of geology - one whose surface area is equal to dry surface on Earth. Human crews will be called upon to use a variety of skills and tools to traverse the Martian surface - including those often associated with hiking, mountaineering and technical climbing. While rovers and other mechanical devices will be employed, it should be assumed that skills commonly associated with rock climbing, caving, and mountaineering on Earth will also be required."

Everest OnOrbit

Doc Does Politico

Both parties should save space, opinion, Scott Horowitz, Politico

"Similar poll numbers characterize popular approval of NASAs Constellation Program, which is designing and building the next generation of launch vehicles, Ares I and Ares V, as well as the spacecraft Orion and Altair to replace the space shuttle, return humans to the moon and travel to Mars and beyond."

Editor's note: Funny how Scott Horowitz neglects to mention in the short bio at the end that he is currently being paid by both NASA and ATK to work on the Ares 1 rocket. So much for full disclosure.

Everest OnOrbit Update

Scott Parazynski Everest Update: 1 April 2008 - Tengboche, Nepal

"I just got a satellite phone call from Scott in Nepal. He and his team are currently in Tengboche (altitude: 3,867m - 12,687ft) where it is now evening. They have been resting in Tengboche while their bodies acclimate to the altitude. Tomorrow morning (2 April) they will depart for Dingboche (alt: 4,530 m - 14,800 ft). Once there they will rest again to continue their process of acclimatization to ever increasing altitude."

More info at onorbit.com/everest

NASA: Up To 6,400 Job Losses at KSC When Shuttle Retires, Orlando Sentinel

"In the bleakest employment forecast for Kennedy Space Center yet, a NASA report due out on Tuesday estimates that as many as 6,400 contractors could lose their jobs at KSC by 2011 right after the space shuttle is retired. With no rockets to launch, the KSC workforce, whose primary mission is to prepare NASA spacecraft for liftoff, is expected to go from 8,000 contract jobs today to between 1,600 and 2,300 in 2011."

NASA To Hold News Briefing on the Space Shuttle to Constellation Workforce Transition Report

"NASA will hold a teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, April 1, to discuss a report to Congress on the agency's workforce strategy while transitioning from the Space Shuttle Program to the Constellation Program.

The briefing participants are:
- Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington
- Rick Gilbrech, associate administrator, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters"



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

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