Exploration: May 2008 Archives

ISDC 2008 - Friday Morning - Constellation panel, Hobbyspace

"Discusses the studies that justify the Constellation architecture that Griffin had decided on long before he came to NASA as director and long before the studies were done."

Editor's note: Whoa ... wait a minute. Mike Griffin loves to go on and on about all of the analysis that went into the decision to go with the Ares 1/V architecture and how those studies (ESAS etc.) arrived at the conclusion that it was the best path to take. Now ESMD's Doug Cooke is admitting in public what many people have long known: that Mike Griffin had already decided on this concept before he even came to NASA. That said, what was the purpose of ESAS and all of the trade studies Griffin refers to if the answer was already known - smoke and mirrors?

Editor's update: Now the editor of this site has changed it to state that this was his comment - (apparently) not what Doug Cooke actually said (sorry Doug). Oh well. So much for relying on that site for accurate liveblogging quotes. FWIW the editor also mangled what I and others said in an event at ISDC yesterday.

Friends on Everest

Editor's note: Dr. Christian Otto, whom Leroy Chiao, Matt Reyes and I worked at HMP on Devon Island in 2007 (see photo), and his brother Eric, made it to the summit of Mount Everest last week.

They are part of the Canadian Mt. Everest Medical Operations Expedition. You can follow their expedition on the following web sites:



20-Year Journey for 15-Minute Fall, NY Times

"He has spent two decades and nearly $20 million in a quest to fly to the upper reaches of the atmosphere with a helium balloon, just so he can jump back to earth again. Now, Michel Fournier says, he is ready at last. Joe Kittinger has the longest recorded jump from a balloon, from 102,800 feet in 1960. Depending on the weather, Fournier, a 64-year-old retired French army officer, will attempt what he is calling Le Grand Saut (The Great Leap) on Sunday from the plains of northern Saskatchewan."

Le Grand Saut (The Great Leap), Official website

Balloon blows away free fall record bid, CNN

"French skydiver Michel Fournier's bid for a record-breaking parachute jump from Earth's stratosphere was aborted Tuesday when the balloon that was to carry him into the far reaches of the sky slipped away from his flight crew."

Today's Video: Space Diving, earlier post

"First Man in Space - Skydiving From The Edge Of The World (Extended Version) // On August 16, 1960, Joseph Kittinger jumped his last ... all " Excelsior jump, doing so from an air-thin height of 102,800 feet (31,334 meters). From that nearly 20 miles altitude, his tumble toward terra firma took some 4 minutes and 36 seconds."

Homeward Bound

Astronaut Scott Parazynski Everest Update: 25 May 2008: Homeward Bound

"My last 24 hours at Everest Base Camp were a blur. After guardedly muscling my way down the Khumbu icefall for the last time, I immediately began thinking about what it would take to get back home. I knew that once I began the trek out, each step I took would finally be one step closer to home. ... A friend and fellow climber had developed a medical condition necessitating evacuation, however. As he was unable to make the long trek out, physicians at the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) clinic at base camp ("Everest ER") requested a helicopter evacuation for him."

Ernst Stuhlinger

Ernst Stuhlinger, One of the Last Von Braun Rocket Team Members, Dies

"Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger, one of the last surviving members of the 126 German rocket scientists brought over to the United States after world war II has passed away quietly in Huntsville Alabama. Dr. Stuhlinger was 94 years old. Dr. Stuhlinger designed the first manned ion propulsion system for sending humans to Mars as far back as 1958 and by the 1970's he and Von Braun were convinced that ion propulsion would open up the solar system for exploration. This dream is very slowly being realized."

Editor's note: This letter [full text below] by Ernst Stuhlinger was written in the 1970-71 time frame when he was Associate Director for Science at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. It is referenced in this thesis NASA TM X-58055 "Space Program Benefits" by Frederick A. Zito online at NASA - see pages 9 - 12.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Editor's note: Once again the Coalition for Space Exploration - the organization set up back in 2004 to promote the VSE (the one that all the big aerospace companies pour huge amounts of money into) - is asleep at the throttle. This organization is supposed to be enhancing awareness about space policy and space advocacy. Instead it is inert and behind the times.

Earlier this week the House Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics unanimously passed HR 6063, the NASA Authorization Act of 2008. This is the reauthorization of a similar bill enacted into law in 2005 which made NASA's implementation of the VSE a matter of public law and national policy. You would think that the coalition - with its $20,000 a month website - would be on top of such things. Think again.

If you look at their press release page - there is nothing about the this new legislation - its introduction, subcommittee hearings, votes - Nothing. Nor was this markup included in their calendar. What are they doing with all of this aerospace money?

VSE Hearing (Coalition drops the ball again), earlier post
Coalition for Space Exploration Drops The Ball, earlier post
Yawn - Its The Coalition for Space Exploration, earlier post
What Does the Coalition for Space Exploration Actually Do?, earlier post

Astronaut Scott Parazynski Everest Update: 22 May 2008: Resting at Base Camp

"I just got a satphone call from Scott Parazynski at Everest Base Camp. The word I'd use to describe his mood is "contemplative". Otherwise, Scott is Scott, and he just always seems to be able to find a positive way to look at things. He was cheering me up!"

Astronaut Scott Parazynski Update 22 May 2008: Summit so close, yet so far...

There I was, literally just 24 hours from standing atop the world's tallest mountain, 6:30 am, May 21, 2008.

The radio call from Casey had just come in, indicating that he, Ari, Danuru and Dawa had actually done it, and with extra determination I gave my pack a hoist, wincing in sharp pain in the process.

Berrimilla Down Under Mars Status Report 20 May 2008

Editor's note: this is the other expedition (earlier reports) I am following and supporting: a 10 meter sailboat Berrimilla ("Berri") heading from Australia, via the Northwest passage to Devon Island in time to see a total solar eclipse in early August. They are making similar mission risk calculations as did Scott Parazynski the other day when he turned back from a summit attempt on Mt. Everest. Alex lost my contact info (again). He's on a little sailboat - he's forgiven. Looks like a satphone call from the middle of the Pacific (as if Scott hasn't already woke me up more than once from Nepal). Oh well, these guys called the ISS a few years back. This thought process - real time risk evaluation in a hazardous environment - is what will be needed on the Moon and Mars ...

House Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Passes NASA Authorization Act

"Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics unanimously passed HR 6063, the NASA Authorization Act of 2008 without amendment. Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced the bill to reauthorize the programs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for Fiscal Year 2009. Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Feeney (R-FL) were original cosponsors of the legislation."

NASA Reauthorization Approved by House Panel, CQ Politics

Subcommittee Chairman Udall's Statement on the NASA Authorization Act of 2008

Full Bill Text

Editor's note: The current thinking is that Scott Parazynski's summit window is centered on 22 May. Weather and human traffic are the main factors affecting Scott's progress to the summit.

Our original plan did not work out in terms of comms and updates we planned to do from from Base Camp. So ... here is the back up plan: post your comments below. If you simply want to wish Scott "good luck, best wishes, etc." post that and I will do a head count. If, however, you have something a bit more expansive to say - please post it. Please try and make it simple so that I can condense it down to something I can efficiently convey to Scott and that he can keep in his oxygen-starved brain. Longer comments will be left online for Scott to read when he gets back home.

Scott will be the first human to both fly in space and summit the highest peak on our planet. What does this mean in terms of personal determination and endurance? In terms of exploration and pushing frontiers? As a preview of things to come - and of risks to be taken - on other worlds?

We won't see a similar combination and alignment of first accomplishments again until someone summits the highest lunar peak - or Olympus Mons on Mars.

Send your thoughts to the summit of Mt. Everest. Give Scott something to think about. Be a part of this unique climb.

Further updates and fresh images from Mt. Everest at Everest On Orbit

Getting Unstuck: 30 Years in Low-Earth Orbit, When We Left Earth, Discovery

"When you hit the moon at age 11, the rest of your life isn't going to be easy. Like a child prodigy, you've got that record to uphold, an achievement removed from the ordinary flow of time and displayed like a photograph at your mom's house. It'd be perfectly understandable if you were in full crisis mode at mid-life: getting divorced, pining new cars, contemplating the meaning of life. "At 50, you're probably more than halfway done," says NASA's Wayne Hale, an even-keeled senior manager who recently left his job as shuttle program manager to help plot the agency's course out of low-Earth orbit."

Reader note: "Jesco von Puttkamer is by far the most popular NASA official here in Germany, perhaps less so in the U.S. Now he's visiting a German state which has put out an exuberant press release: - here we learn that he is going to give a talk about "das Vorhaben der amerikanischen Weltraumbehoerde NASA, den Planeten Mars zu besiedeln", which translates roughly as "the intention of the American space agency NASA to colonize the planet Mars". Wondering where "the vision" is heading these days? Here you have it, from a NASA guy's own mouth ..."

Editor's note: I ran this through Babelfish and got "the project of the American space authority NASA to settle the planet Mars". Either way it sounds like a rather fanciful leap beyond the scope of the VSE - especially given how hard it is for NASA just to do "Apollo on Steroids" - and to get back to the Moon 50 years after we last went there.

To ISRU or Not to ISRU, This is the Dumbest Question, Dennis Wingo, SpaceRef

"In Situ Resource Utilization or ISRU is the use of materials derived at the location in space that you have traveled to. This is mostly associated with the Moon, Mars, or the Asteroids. Without ISRU there simply is no long term human space program. Why? We simply cannot afford to take everything with us at prices exceeding two hundred thousand dollars per kilogram for the Moon and even more for Mars. Therefore, for any rational human space exploration program, the question is not why but how, when, and where we implement ISRU."

National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008 (Introduced in House) H.R.6063

"SEC. 407. PARTICIPATORY EXPLORATION. (a) In General- The Administrator shall develop a technology plan to enable dissemination of information to the public to allow the public to experience missions to the Moon, Mars, or other bodies within our solar system by leveraging advanced exploration technologies.

Participatory Exploration: Climb Everest, Bring 10K People With You, Wired

"Last fall he performed an unplanned EVA to help repair a critical solar panel on the International Space Station, this month he is attempting to summit Mount Everest. For emergency room surgeon turned NASA Astronaut Scott Parazynski the only way to do summiting Everest right would be to make sure you include as many people in the experience as possible."

Everest Update

IMG Everest Expedition Dispatch #24 May 17, 2008

"The plan is to get the rope fixed on the 20th, with the first summit bids on the 21st. This morning (18th Nepal time) Scott, Adam & Bob Lowry with their personal sherpas and Casey and his team (Bob and Ari) headed up for their summit bids. They all went to C1 with the exception of Scott and Kami who went on to C2. They are scheduled to go for the summit on 21st or 22nd."

Astronaut Scott Parazynski Everest Podcasts 16 May 2008

"Hi again, this is Scott. Just wanted to make a few comments about the tools that are required to scale a mountain as it compared with going outside on a spacewalk. It's actually quite similar, in many regards... We're at great heights, of course gravity affects us in space a little bit differently as we're in a free fall around the earth but here on Mt. Everest if you're to slip and fall, it could mean a long ride, of several thousand feet...with a pretty bad outcome."

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."

Astronaut Scott Parazynski: Many Small Steps to the Summit of Mt. Everest

"For Scott, the plan is to get to the summit, take some photos, and then head back down. Too much dawdling can be life threatening. Low on oxygen, sapped of strength, he will have only moments to savor the experience.

I first met Scott darn near 20 years ago when I was working at NASA Life Sciences and he was about to graduate from medical school. I have to tell you, NASA could have no better representative in this place - at this time - than Scott.

Although, in the important moments, this climb is a test of one's personal physical skill and endurance, knowing Scott as I do, when he stands atop Everest he will be standing there for all of the comrades lost in the exploration of space. You can see it by the patches he has on his summit jacket and the banners he will leave behind.

He'll be thinking of his family and all of the events that somehow led to his presence in this most improbable place.

And he will also be standing there thinking about every person at NASA - and elsewhere - who pursues this passion for exploration of space - no matter how or why they do so.

We'll all stand atop Everest with Scott. Dig it."

Russia and Europe may team up for moon flights, Reuters

"Russia and Europe are teaming up to build a spaceship which will fly astronauts to the moon, Russia said on Wednesday, although the European Space Agency struck a more cautious note. The first test flight is set for 2015 and the first manned flight is planned for 2018, Russian space agency Roskosmos said."

Reader note: "In conjunction with the NASA 50th anniversary showWhen We Left Earth: The NASA Missions, which airs on Discovery Channel beginning next month, we'd love to hear any short stories you may wish to share about missions from the agency's early days or from the shuttle program. Here's a link:

as you will see there are three numbers:

1) for the early missions- Mercury, Gemini, Apollo866-947-6272
2) for crews and anyone involved with the space program 866-948-6272
3) for Shuttle stories 866-949-6272"

Googling The Moon

Reaching for the moon: Interview with Robert Richards, CNN

"Robert Richards is CEO of Odyssey Moon Ltd, the first contenders for the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million prize fund for the first commercial team to land a craft on the moon and send back video footage. CNN spoke to him about his inspiration, his career and the potential of the moon as a resource for Earth."

Everest Update

Scott Parazynski Everest Update: 13 May 2008 - Back at Base Camp - Again

"Keith Cowing 13 May 2008 5:00 pm EDT: I arrived home today to find a voice mail from Scott Parazynski who called by satellite phone from Everest Base Camp (5,380 meters - 17,700 feet) - it was morning here when he called, nighttime there."

Scott Parazynski Everest Update: 14 May 2008 - Back at Base Camp - Again

"Keith Cowing 14 May 2008 12:20 am EDT: Just got another call from Scott. Coordinating media issues. The summit window now looks a bit firmer for 22 May. That would put him back at Everest Base Camp on 24 May."

Astronaut and Mountaineer Scott Parazynski Brings Explorers Club Flag to Mount Everest

"When astronaut Scott Parazynski stands atop Mt. Everest in a few days, he will be making note of a number of non-profit and educational organizations - among them the Explorers Club. With him will be a small Explorers Club flag. A full sized flag (#114) will remain at Everest Base Camp.

According to the Explorers Club website: "Every year Explorers Club members launch new research expeditions around the world, thus continuing the early goals laid down by the Club's founders in 1904. The Explorers Club flag represents a history of courage and accomplishment and has been carried on hundreds of expeditions since 1918. Flag expeditions fulfill a fundamental part of the Club's mission: To engage in scientific exploration and share the results."

Everest Update

IMG Everest Expedition Dispatch #20 May 11, 2008

"Camp 3 is now established at 24,000 feet on the Lhotse Face and Chip/Jamling & Vance/Pemba Dorje are sleeping there tonight. Scott, Adam and Joe climbed to C3 today and came down to C2."

NASA Everest Trek Blog Update 10 May 2008

"Scott Parazynski found us there and it was very good to see him. He was very excited to see us too and explained his ascents up through the Ice Fall as well as climbs to Camp I and Camp II.

As we were about to head back to Base Camp (merely 3 minutes away) a large portion of a glacier caved on a mountain ledge adjacent and to the left of the Ice Fall creating an avalanche that lasted about 2 minutes. Within seconds the snow plume created by the ground impact drifted over us giving the appearance of a light snowfall. This was a very unique experience to see, being so close to a large avalanche, but Scott mentioned it is a common occurrence here at Base Camp."

More updates at Everest OnOrbit

NASA's next boondoggle always best, Opinion, Orlando Sentinel

"Six years after finishing the space station, NASA plans to retire it. Having gotten a whiff of the moon, NASA can't abandon its orbiting boondoggle fast enough. ...

... You know we are headed for a boondoggle when the agency's marketing division starts up a Web page called, "Why the Moon?"

And the first sentence is, "If you asked 100 people why we should return to the moon, you'd probably get 100 answers -- or more!"

Translation: We can't come up with one good one."

Berrimilla Down Under "Mars Status Report 8 May 2008

noon 1237.47 16450.27 28 days at sea

Dtd 2867 so dmg 101 and dmg overall 2952 out of 5819nm. All approximate...

At about this time in any long journey - for me, in a marathon, it kicks in around 25 k - one becomes conscious of distance travelled, which focuses the mind on distance yet to go and, for me anyway, there's always a tendency to anxiety and depression. I've never started a marathon, let alone anything like this, knowing absolutely that I would finish it and there's always that corrosive doubt travelling in company - what if...Then, in a marathon, perhaps around 37-38 km, certainty takes over and while the body slowly eats itself, there's an end and an achievement in sight and the pain is diminished. We're not anywhere near there yet on this gig."

Current location N 16 16.29 E 165 50.34 - South of Wake Island

Earlier status reports

Statement by Robert Dickman - Senate Hearing on Reauthorizing the Vision for Space Exploration

"Use of the CEV to provide crew rotation for the International Space Station (ISS) is not projected after 2017, jeopardizing the opportunity to reach the full benefit of this unique research facility. There are alternatives to the Ares-Orion for access to the ISS, including commercial and government approaches. However, none will be available without additional funding."

Editor's note: It would seem that some of the occupants of the 9th floor at NASA HQ are not at all happy with what the Executive Director of the AIAA said on Capitol Hill this week. Calling for consideration of non-Ares launch solutions and alternative approaches other than those ordained by ESAS is tantamount to heresy in Mike Griffin's world view. Stay tuned.

Everest Update

On the way down, NASA Everest Trek Blog

"When we finally made it to base camp we were greeted by a very happy and active Scott Parazynski. He was bounding across the rocks as we were barely catching our breath. To see him so positive gave us all a lot of energy. We took a lot of pictures around base camp, and the Khumbu ice fall."

Editor's note: NASA Ames Research Center has been developing the Modular Common Spacecraft Bus (MCSB). The MCSB is a spacecraft designed to go to a variety of destinations such as lunar surface/orbit, Mars orbit, asteroid missions, and Earth orbit. The MCSB uses a cold gas propulsion system (and some SCUBA tanks) rather than a hot gas rocket. This only allows a few seconds of flight time - but it also reduces the time needed to prepare for repeat flights from intervals of many days - even months - down to around 40 minutes. This allows rapid prototype development to be conducted. The video below shows a series of tests conducted in 2007 and 2008. More to follow.

Bootstrapping the Moon, Dennis Wingo, SpaceRef

"In thinking about the how and the why of the economic development of space, mental frameworks are of crucial importance. A mental framework governs everything in terms of how any particular engineering project evolves from concept to implementation. Over time in the space arena our mental framework has evolved, in ways not all together positive from the perspective of those of us who believe that the economic development of space is practical and indeed crucial to the continuing development of our planetary civilization. This missive will explore the mental framework of economic development (the level zero requirement in government speak) and then explore how that would unfold."

VSE Hearing

Hearing: Reauthorizing the Vision for Space Exploration

Wednesday, May 7, 2008 09:30 AM Archived Webcast

Statement by Frederick Tarantino
Statement by Joan Johnson-Freese
Statement by Robert Dickman
Statement by Gene Kranz
Statement by George Whitesides

Editor's note: Gene Kranz is listed as representing the Coalition for Space Exploration as a witness at this hearing. Yet if you go to their website there is no mention of this hearing nor any mention of Kranz's participation in it. No press release or media advisory was issued in advance of the event. I am told that the Coalition spends $20,000 or more per month to run this website. I do not think they are getting their money's worth. The people in charge of this website are clearly asleep at the wheel.

Editor's update: The Coalition eventually updated their website so as to reflect Kranz's presence - but only after the hearing was over. They back dated it to make it look like it was posted at 9:30 am. So much for drawing attention to an event in advance, eh?

Plan B For Outer Space, Dennis Wingo, SpaceRef

Those of us who were disappointed with the demise of SEI shared the frustrations that I am sure that Dr. Griffin shared and is trying to fix today with the ESAS architecture. NASA is furiously working to make the Ares 1 overcome its problems while also looking to the future in the development of the Ares 5 and the retirement of the Shuttle. However, there are many of us out here who were around then, I have written before, think the same forces that killed SEI are going to kill the ESAS architecture and Constellation systems.



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About this Archive

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

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