Exploration: August 2008 Archives

Editor's note: Have a look at this page at 12seconds.tv - it is Ariel Waldman's page. Ariel is a quasi-famous Gen Y blogger and "digital anthropologist" in Silicon Valley who recently started to work at NASA ARC.

Check out the 12 second videos. Yea, can't do much in 12 seconds, right? It's just like Twitter. 140 characters. How profound can you get with such constraints? But wait - just like the telegrams used by a previous generation, doesn't that forced brevity make you pause and think about your words and what you really NEED to say?

For you NASA folks - recall that dumb phrase you hear at NASA i.e. the "elevator speech" - what would you say to someone about what you are doing at NASA if you only had an elevator ride for a few floors to make your point. Consider this an online example - with video.

Join up - i.e. ask for an invitation to join - and send us your links for your 12 second videos: why is space exploration important, why does your job matter, or whatever you think needs to be said.

Editor's update: Check the comments section. Michael Mealing is the first person to create a video - and it is a good one.

Lack of funding shortchanging NASA on mission research, Houston Chronicle

"NASA is not receiving enough money for research and, as a result, faces significant challenges in developing technologies for living on the moon or flying to Mars, a study said Thursday. Little money is left over to study the hazards faced by astronauts during months-long missions into deep space, said the study by a National Academies of Sciences panel, because most of the research funds go into studies of the obstacles to short-term flights to the moon."

Panel warns NASA is focused on short-term goals, New Scientist

"NASA may get its Moon-Mars programme off the ground, and even land astronauts on the Moon. But it's going to have trouble establishing a long-term lunar base or making the big leap to Mars, says an expert review panel."

NRC Says ETDP Needs Corrective Action, earlier post

"NRC Report: A Constrained Space Exploration Technology Program: A Review of NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program

"The Committee to Review NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program is broadly supportive of the intent and goals of the VSE, and finds the ETDP is making progress towards the stated goals of technology development, but is operating within significant constraints which limit its ability to successfully accomplish those goals the still dynamic nature of the Constellation Program requirements, the constraints imposed by a limited budget, the aggressive time scale of early technology deliverables, and the desire to fully employ the NASA workforce...

... The committee found that in 20 of the 22 ETDP projects, corrective action leading to project improvement was either warranted or required. However, the committee felt that the ETDP contains a range of technologies that will, in principle, enable the realization of many of the early endeavors currently imagined in the Exploration Systems Architecture Study architecture, i.e., the development of a transportation system to the International Space Station, and the early human exploration of the Moon. The committee concluded that the ETDP, if adequately and stably funded and executed in a manner consistent with the planning process, would likely make available the required technology on schedule to its customers in the Constellation Program."

NASA Tests Orion Parachute (Result: Spectacular Failure), Gizmodo
Orion Test Set-Up Parachute Fails, Mockup Crashes, Wired
Spacecraft crash due to test setup, not design flaw, New Scientist

NASA releases Orion crash photos, Scientific American

"Budding astronauts, avert your eyes. NASA has posted photos of a failed test landing (read: crash) of a mock-up of the Orion crew exploration vehicle, part of the Constellation program to replace the shuttle in 2015."

NASA Tests Launch Abort Parachute System - Releases Crash Photos

"NASA tested the parachutes for the recovery system on its Orion crew exploration vehicle above the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona on July 31. The test proved unsuccessful when a test set-up parachute failed..."

Editor's 19 Aug 3:00 pm note: ... And the test vehicle crashed into the desert floor. Nowhere does NASA mention that the vehicle slammed into the desert floor or crashed. They just say that "the result was a landing that severely damaged the test mock-up."

Nor has NASA issued a media advisory or a press release to alert people of the images it claimed that it did not have last week. No, they just quietly mentioned that some pictures will be online later to some reporters. And when these images were posted quietly on the NASA website, they were on a page titled "NASA Tests Launch Abort Parachute System". No mention of a failure, a crash etc. Nor is there any mention on the media page or on the ESMD page.

[Hat tip to eagle eyes Robert for spotting this]

Editor's 20 Aug note: ESMD is still not making any mention of this video or photos on its website. Why is this being hidden?

Editor's 20 Aug update: The links are finally up.

More Details on PTV Test Failure and Crash, earlier post
NASA Orion Parachute Test Vehicle Fails Drop Test, earlier post

Crash video below

Editor's note: According to the National Research Council, a new report will be released at 11 am EDT, 21 August 2008. Titled: "A Constrained Space Exploration Technology Program: A Review of NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program", this report "looks at the quality of technological research conducted at NASA and determines how well-aligned it is with President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration. Specifically, the report examines the degree to which technology development at NASA includes exploration beyond the Moon. The report also identifies gaps in the current research program and estimates the likelihood that needed technologies will be developed in time for the flight schedules outlined by the agency's Constellation Program."

IPP Lunar Lander Challenge

NASA Notice of Centennial Challenges Lunar Lander Challenge

"The Lunar Lander Challenge is now scheduled and teams that wish to compete may now register. The NASA Centennial Challenges Program is a program of prize contests to stimulate innovation and competition in space exploration and ongoing NASA mission areas.

The Lunar Lander Challenge is a prize contest designed to accelerate technology developments supporting the commercial creation of a vehicle capable of ferrying cargo or humans back and forth between lunar orbit and the lunar surface."

OSU's cadaver tests help NASA design spacesuit

"Crash-test dummies are designed for a frontal crash; they don't have the instrumentation to predict injuries that could occur when landing a spacecraft," Bolte said. The bodies of three men who died in their 50s and 60s were used to test for injury at forces of 10 and 20 times the gravitational force we feel on Earth -- the landing forces used in Wright-Patterson tests."

Using Cadavers To Test Orion, earlier post

Editor's note: The field season at the Haughton Mars Project Research Station (HMPRS) on Devon Island is coming to a close. The HMPRS webcams will go offline at some point today as everyone starts to pack up. You can get one last look at the three webcams: one that is looking out at HMPRS, another that is located inside the office tent, and another that is looking down at HMPRS from a nearby hill.

An archive of time lapse videos of these webcam feeds can be found here. Further information on the HMPRS is online here.

The time lapse video below shows a day's activities (12 August) inside the office tent where the HMPRS is managed.

KARI signs a Statement of Intent for participation in the ILN August 12th, 2008, rescommunis

"Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) signed a Statement of Intent to participate in the International Lunar Network at NASA Ames Research Center on July 24, 2008. The International Lunar Network (ILN) is a network for the exploration of the lunar environment and resources by landing 6 - 8 stations on the lunar surface led by NASA."

Internal Memo Details Failed NASA Orion Parachute Test Vehicle Drop Test

"According to an internal NASA memo CPAS Cluster Development Test 2 (CDT2) experienced a test failure on 31 July 2008. Initial observations indicated that
the programmer parachute did not inflate properly when the Parachute Test Vehicle (PTV) separated from the test pallet.

The programmer parachute puts the PTV into the proper position and thus sets up proper initial conditions for descent to the ground. In this test, the programmer parachute failed to inflate.This was due to the fact that the programmer parachute did not take in enough air to fully inflate and produce the proper drag. This situation occurred because of hard buffeting produced by the wake formed by the PTV and the stabilization parachutes."

More rumblings over Ares I; Is the stick dying? , Orlando Sentinel

"There are rumblings of discord in the NASA family over the agency's troubled Ares I moon rocket. According to well-placed sources inside NASA, the astronaut office is deeply unhappy with the design of Ares as it emerges from an important review that is in the process of being finished up now. The concern is so great, the sources say, that there is some talk at the highest levels of NASA about the possibility of ditching the Ares, with its unconventional stick-like solid rocket booster first stage, in favor of a more conventional rocket design - one that sounds like the shuttle launch system without the shuttle."

Editor's note: NASA sources report that a week or so ago the Ares 1 PDR Board pulled a presentation on thrust oscillation solutions because of concerns voiced by the Astronaut Office. At this point the favored solution seems to be heading for "Option B - Active Pulsing RCS Plus Single Plane Isolation" which involves using thruster packs that are aimed upward on the aft end of the first stage plus hardware at the upper end of the first stage to isolate/dampen loads.

Ares Architecture and ELVs

Pre-solicitation Synopsis of Proposed Contract Action for Ares Electric Thrust Vector Control Prototype Risk Reduction Procurement

Editor's note: I am a little confused (it happens). According to the Electric TVC Prototype Specification (PDF) contained in this pre-solicitation notice: "The heritage TVC (Thrust Vector Control) System does have some shortcomings: ... The system is a design that has not been in production for 20 years. The Ares launch architecture may seek expendable launch vehicle solutions and the cost associated with production of new heritage hardware would be prohibitive."

Does this mean that NASA MSFC is looking for ELV component solutions (Thrust Vector Control) for use in the Ares I/V launch vehicles (as currently being designed) or that NASA is looking to use ELVs as part of their Ares launch architecture?

X PRIZE Foundation Announces Ten Teams Vying for Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

"The X PRIZE Foundation today announced that ten teams will compete in the 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, which will take place at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, October 24-25, 2008.

The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge is a two-level, two million dollar competition requiring a vehicle to simulate trips between the moon's surface and lunar orbit."

Infrastructure needed for future space exploration, The Space Review

"We need to establish a broader set of space mission interests and requirements based on overall national goals--not just those perceived by the NASA--and carefully identify the existing and planned space program capabilities that could relate to this unified need. We also need to establish independent advisory and review teams that could help to ensure that the national plan reflects a sound basis for achieving national goals and which is not swayed by regional and shortsighted special interest groups."



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About this Archive

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

Exploration: July 2008 is the previous archive.

Exploration: September 2008 is the next archive.

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