Exploration: June 2008 Archives

Neuroscientists Discover a Sense of Adventure, Wellcome Trust

"Wellcome Trust scientists have identified a key region of the brain which encourages us to be adventurous. The region, located in a primitive area of the brain, is activated when we choose unfamiliar options, suggesting an evolutionary advantage for sampling the unknown. It may also explain why re-branding of familiar products encourages to pick them off the supermarket shelves. ... "Seeking new and unfamiliar experiences is a fundamental behavioural tendency in humans and animals," says Dr Wittmann. "It makes sense to try new options as they may prove advantageous in the long run. For example, a monkey who chooses to deviate from its diet of bananas, even if this involves moving to an unfamiliar part of the forest and eating a new type of food, may find its diet enriched and more nutritious.""

Long Island Air National Guard Rescue Unit Supports NASA's Haughton-Mars Project, New York State Division of Military & Naval Affairs

"The 106the Rescue Wing will support NASA's Haughton-Mars Project Research Station located in the Canadian high arctic by flying in research equipment, personnel and supplies next week. Aircraft and personnel will launch their second of three missions on June 28th for NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California at which time they will provide transportation for scientists and researchers from various universities and agencies and cargo destined for Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island."

Two Days to Initial Deployment to Resolute Bay, HMP

Haughton Mars Project
Mars Institute
HMP Research Station's photostream, Flickr
HMP Research Station Videos, YouTube
HMP Twitter Feed

Glenn, Garn, Nelson: What Bush doesn't know about NASA, Opinion, Orlando Sentinel

"... NASA needs additional guidance from Congress on what its future course should be. It especially needs that guidance, because this administration has thoroughly failed to provide the direction -- or the funding -- necessary to achieve what President Bush called for in January 2004 when he announced the Vision for Space Exploration. We can only attempt to explain why the administration has undermined the Vision for Space Exploration, though we suspect it can be explained by Bush not knowing all the facts about what the real impact of NASA's annual budgets has been since the loss of the Columbia in 2003."

KSC Folks: Call Paul Shawcross, earlier post

Editor's note: The sad thing about all of this these days is that OMB's Paul Shawcross has more say as to what happens at NASA than NASA's Administrator does. You can yell at Mike Griffin until you are blue in the face but it is Shawcross and the OMB who calls the shots.

The Power of Many, When We Left Earth, Discovery.com

"As a mountaineer, I'm measured not so much by my summits, but by my performance, my behavior all the way up the mountain and all the way down. If you're lucky enough to have a touch-and-go at the summit, that's great, but I've turned away from several summits over my many years of climbing for weather, running out of water, gear problems, what have you. It is important to keep your wits about you so I take some pride in knowing that I can still do that even with the temptation of the summit," [Scott Parazynski] says."

Earlier updates

Mars Down Under

Sailing Through Space -- Or Something Like It, Next Generation, Discovery Channel

"There are a lot of different aspects to traveling in space, especially the kinds of long-duration flights required to get to another planet, or to spend a stint on the International Space Station. Some aspects of those missions can be simulated on Earth, and many can't. But among those that can are the physical and psychological demands of spending a long time in a small space under challenging and occasionally life-threatening conditions."

Status reports

Does Ares V + I = VI?

NASA Study Provides Next Step to Establishing Lunar Outpost

"To accomplish those objectives, the current configuration of the Ares V will use six RS-68B liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen engines on a core stage along with two five-and-one-half segment solid propellant rocket boosters, which are a direct evolution from the first stage of the Ares I rocket."

Editor's note: So, Mike, is this latest redesign going to be called the Ares VI?

Smithsonian's Folklife Festival Celebrates NASA's 50 Years

"Moon buggies, stardust and space food are a few of the things visitors will learn about at the "NASA: 50 Years and Beyond" program during this summer's Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The program will showcase the role men and women of NASA have played in broadening the horizons of American science and culture, and the role they will continue to play in shaping the future through exploration and stirring the public imagination. The festival will be held outdoors on the National Mall between 7th and 14th streets from Wednesday, June 25, through Sunday, June 29, and Wednesday, July 2, through Sunday, July 6. Admission is free."

New Gallup Poll Reveals Americans Strongly Support Space Exploration, Believe it Inspires Younger Generation, Coalition for Space Exploration

"Approximately two-thirds (68%) of adults surveyed agree that the benefits of space exploration outweigh the risks of human space flight. "

Editor's note: Ok, so Americans support space exploration - but do they want to pay (more) to do it? There is a difference between "support" (words) and reaching for your wallet.

Gallup Poll Results (PDF), Coalition for Space Exploration

"Approximately one in every two (52%) adults say they would support increasing NASAs budget from one-sixth of one percent to one percent of the federal budget (14% strongly support and 38% support this). Nearly as many (45%) report they oppose increasing the budget (30% oppose it and 15% strongly oppose it)."


"When the public is asked how willing they would be to support an increase in taxes if the money was to go to NASA to help close the budget deficit, 43% said they would be willing however, more than half(57%) report they would not be willing. There was not a great deal of variation in responses by gender, age or education a majority in each of these groups said they would not be willing to support an increase in taxes to help close this five-year budget deficit."

Editor's note: In essence, a razor thin majority in this poll supports more budget money for NASA - so long as it comes from somewhere else - but not if it means that they have to pay more taxes. Sounds like broad, but thin and diffuse support for NASA. I'd be curious to see what a poll of the same people would show if mention of "NASA" was omitted and questions were simply asked about space exploration - as a concept - regardless of how it would be done (private and/or private sector).

If the Coalition for Space Exploration really wants to further the notion of a robust taxpayer-funded program of space exploration - one based on a solid footing of public support - then they need to start paying attention to what their polls actually say and stop trying to skew the results to say something that the numbers do not support. If, however, they want to support space exploration - regardless of how it comes about - then they need to re-examine their motives - and ask different questions.

People might not want to pay more taxes for space exploration, but they might be interested in buying a ticket.

Former NASA Science Chief Alan Stern joins Odyssey Moon, the first registered competitor in the Google Lunar X PRIZE

"Odyssey Moon, a commercial lunar enterprise, announced today that former NASA Associate Administrator Dr. Alan Stern has accepted a role with the Isle of Man-based company. Dr. Stern was a recognized engine of change and innovation as chief of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, championing new science programs while being a stalwart advocate of cost and value control when he served at NASA."

New Gallup Poll Reveals Americans Strongly Support Space Exploration, Believe it Inspires Younger Generation

"As America prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NASA later this year, a new Gallup Poll released today shows strong support for the U.S. Space Exploration Program. The most recent poll, conducted in May 2008, is the latest in a series of four polls commissioned by the Coalition for Space Exploration in an effort to better understand the extent of support and public attitudes toward America's space program. The first three polls were conducted in June 2005, March 2006 and August 2006."

Editor's note: Great news! Too bad the Coalition can't seem to figure out all of that advanced Internet stuff so as to have a way to let people visiting its website i.e. the main home page, the press releases page, and oddly, the Gallup Poll page, and find these poll results easily. Oh yes, where's the emailing to media and space websites? Or is NASA Watch no longer on your list?

NASA Edge: These ARE the droids you are looking for...

"If Luke could have put NASA's Chariot, ATHLETE, K-10 and the LSMS on the south ridge near his home on Tatooine, he could have joined the rebellion much sooner, avoided kissing his sister and even saved his father. Okay, maybe I'm stretching things a little bit. But after only 10 seconds of seeing these vehicles in action, it is tough to supress my enthusiasm. We arrived late in the afternoon in the thick of multiple simulations. The pictures don't quite capture the 20 mph wind, dust devils and chaotic temperatures, but each projects' team and hardware didn't seem phased. They were vigilantly putting everything, including themselves through the data collection ringer... And loving every minute of it. I have to hand it to them all. They are real troopers."

Ares Family Problems

Editor's note: It would seem that ESMD's implementation of the exploration architecture put forth in the ESAS study is not going smoothly . The original Ares V concept (named/modeled after Apollo's 5 engine Saturn V) was not capable of launching what NASA needs to launch. So, an internal study recommends adding a 6th engine to Ares V and stretching everything else to boost performance. Meanwhile, the vibration problems that have plagued Ares 1 have not been solved. Stay tuned for some bad news and another schedule slip in the near future.

Changing Horses

NASA Awards Contract for Constellation Spacesuit for the Moon

Oceaneering Announces NASA Space Suit Contract

Hamilton Must Wait For NASA Rationale, Hartford Courant

"It will be at least 10 days before NASA makes public its rationale for abandoning Hamilton Sundstrand as its spacesuit supplier after more than 40 years. The federal space agency announced Thursday that it has awarded a contract for the next-generation spacesuit to Oceaneering International of Houston, the only bidder competing against a Hamilton partnership called Exploration Systems and Technology."

Everest Recap

Astronaut's adventures don't end in space

"Parazynski joined NASA's astronaut corps in 1992 and flew to Russia's Mir space station as well as its successor, the international space station. He crewed on a shuttle flight in 1998 with John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, and in Houston he trains astronauts for spacewalks. He's unsure whether he will be given an opportunity for a sixth trip into space.

But the desire burns, close to his quest for another shot at Everest's summit. "The mountain will always be there," he said. "It's not that I need to prove anything. The more I thought about it coming home, the more I longed for going back. "I just want to see it with my own eyes."

More information on Scott's climb at EverestOnOrbit

Editor's note: This letter has been going out to Apollo program veterans from United Space Alliance:

"I was given your name by some folks here, who told me you were involved in the Apollo program. I am part of the NASA/Contractor Process Control Focus Group and we develop awareness products for suppliers and the workforce.

With Shuttle coming to a close in the next couple of years, we were brainstorming ideas that would have an impact on our workforce. Then we thought about the Apollo program and what the environment was like when the folks knew the program was coming to an end. I assume it is similar to our current situation, the folks are nervous, preoccupied, etc. and therefore the potential exists for more process escapes.

NASA Lunar Surface Systems Concept Studies Broad Agency Announcement

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is currently studying lunar outpost architecture concepts, including habitation, mobility and communication systems, to support U.S. lunar exploration and science objectives. NASA is in the process of defining functional capabilities and concepts for architectural elements to provide core capabilities.

NASA conducted a discussion of a planned Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Lunar Surface Systems Concept Studies on June 6, 2008, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC."

NASA chief urges Europe to build manned spaceship

"NASA encouraged Europe on Thursday to develop its own manned spaceship, which would give the world -- and particularly the U.S. -- another way of reaching the international space station. Europe became "a full-fledged space power," the agency's administrator said, when flight controllers at a European Space Agency center guided an unmanned cargo ship to the international space station in April, successfully delivering food, water and clothes."

Stylish Moon Buggies

Move over Phoenix: Moonstream Mars rover, the best view of the Red Planet, DVICE

"Anthony Sims, a student at the Art Center College of Design, conceptualized the Moonstream rover after forms found in nature, such as turtles and whales, and modeled it after working NASA designs. Each wheel, for instance, can walked upon just like NASA's Athlete robot. Inside, astronauts will find a cabin built for comfort and security, with space that allows some privacy as well as ample room to work and sleep. Form isn't fighting function here, either the driver lies against an independently suspended pod that allows the pilot to spot troublesome terrain as well as remain stable through rough riding."

Scott Parazynski Everest Photo Update 4 June 2008

"Image: a self-portrait just before going to bed at CIII on O's"

Pictures From the Summit of Mt. Everest, OnOrbit.com

"These two photos were taken of Scott Parazynski's good friend and climbing partner Adam Janikowski on the summit of Mt. Everest. Adam is shown posing with memorial banners for cosmonauts and astronauts who died during their missions (which were left at the summit) and Explorers Club Flag #114 (which will be returned to the Explorers Club along with a report)."

Astronaut and Mountaineer Scott Parazynski Brings Explorers Club Flag to Mount Everest, OnOrbit.com

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

NASA Solicitation: NASA Lunar Science Institute

"On June 2, 2008, NASA SMD, in cooperation with ESMD, is releasing a Cooperative Agreement Notice soliciting proposals for the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI). Proposers will be required to clearly articulate an innovative, interdisciplinary, lunar research program, together with plans to advance the full scope of NLSI objectives as defined in the Institute's Mission Statement. Proposals may address science of the Moon, on the Moon, and from the Moon, including objectives that meet NASA's future lunar exploration needs. NASA anticipates making $8-10M per year available for this selection, leading to 5 to 7 awards at least one of which will be focused on exploration objectives. Awards will be for 4 years duration."

NASA'S Griffin: Space is not an election issue, Orlando Sentinel

"In a quick interview before Discovery was set for liftoff on Saturday, NASA Chief Mike Griffin dismissed the notion promoted by many political strategists in Florida that space was an election issue. He also said he was confident that the successor to the shuttle program would survive the change of administration next year.

"Space is not an election issue," Griffin said. "Iraq is an election issue. The economy is an election issue. The deficit is an election issue. But space is not an election issue and they [the candidates] are not focused on it, and I don't expect them to be."

His blunt assessment runs contrary to efforts being made by space supporters on Capitol Hill to make NASA and money for human space flight an election issue, especially in Florida. Leading the charge is Florida's democratic senator Bill Nelson, who earlier this week told the Washington Space Business Roundtable that space will be critical to winning Florida, and thus the White House."

But wait - there's more

Editor's note: Gee Mike, what about the thousands of jobs to be cut - cuts based on political decisions - and your implementation thereof? The fact that you don't see real world aspects of how the space program actually works simply confirms your oft-noted total lack of political radar.

Editor's 29 May note: On June 4th there will be a full committee markup of the HR 6063, the NASA Authorization Act of 2008. It will be webcast live such that anyone can watch. This legislation is a follow-on to a similar bill in 2005 which puts much of the VSE into public law. Given that the Coalition for Space Exploration was created to promote the VSE, you'd think that they'd want to tell people about continuing legislative progress in keeping the VSE on track. Is there any mention of this important event on the calendar on the Coalition's website? No.

Editor's 2 June note: It has been 4 days. Still no mention of this important step at keeping the VSE on track. Have the folks that run the Coalition's website bother to add an update? No.



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

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