Exploration: November 2008 Archives

5...4...3...2...Yawwwwwn, ABC News

"What if we saw more of that on NASA TV? What if the cameras were live 24 hours a day on the space station and you could peek at the crew anytime you wanted to and see and hear what they were doing, rather than the one hour a day in the morning NASA lets you see a carefully programmed presentation?"

Editor's note: Did you know that there are as many as a dozen live cameras, some which can send HiDef video back to earth 24-7-365? Many of them look at the ISS and the Earth. Yet JSC refuses to allow that video to be streamed live over the Internet. Even NASA HQ can't make them do it.

As for the more popular aspect of the STS-126 mission, the lost tool bag, this has become a rather popular topic of discussion in the news. And no, the talk on the news does not totally focus on NASA screwing up by losing this bag. Instead, broadcasts such as the NBC Nightly News focused - as did a number of websites - on how anyone can look up track this small object in space all by themselves. Some people have actually videotaped it. Yet I cannot find any evidence that NASA's Human Spaceflight website or on its ISS/Shuttle tracking page have done anything to build upon this obvious public interest so as to facilitate more sightings. At least for a moment, a lot of people could participate albeit from afar, in the observation of this unintended satellite. But NASA does not seem to care.

This points to a critical - and chronic - failure as to how NASA interacts with the public. Something captures the public's attention in a way that normally does not happen with shuttle missions such that they are drawn to lookup at the night sky. Does NASA do anything to encourage that behavior? No. Instead they treat this toolbag as a nuisance - one that they hope will go away. Alas, that is also how they are treating public interest in NASA. And if they are not careful, that interest will most certainly go away too.

Joe Six Pack and NASA, earlier post

NASA Calls for Comment on Draft Ares V Request for Proposals

"NASA has released a draft request for proposals, or RFP, regarding Phase I of its Ares V launch vehicle. The rocket will perform heavy lift and cargo functions as part of the next generation of spacecraft that will return humans to the moon. Phase I will define operational concepts, develop requirements, and refine design concepts for the Ares V. This document is a draft of the final version of the RFP for Phase I, expected in January 2009. By responding to this draft RFP, potential offerors can provide input on the requirements, small business goals and contract structure. The industry input received will be combined with NASA's expertise for potential inclusion in the final version of the RFP for Phase I, which will ask for bids on five Ares V work packages."

Black Zones

Wayne Hale's NASA Blog: Black Zones

"In the 1950's it seemed like almost all of our rockets exploded during the launch. There were a lot of spectacular failures in those days and successes seemed rare. As we considered putting a man in a capsule on top of one of those rockets it was obvious that something was needed to get the pilot out of a bad situation in a hurry. During the Gemini program, that method of "crew escape" consisted of ejection seats which were only slightly modified from those found in that era's military jet fighter aircraft. This left a lot to be desired as we shall see. But Max Faget, the innovative genius behind much of the engineering progress in NASA's early days, had a brilliant idea. He invented something called the launch escape rocket system."

Flip Flopping on EELV Safety

Will the Real Mike Griffin Please Stand Up?

"The Space Frontier Foundation today pointed out that NASA Administrator Dr. Michael Griffin, in an interview with CBS News published last Friday, publicly contradicted his own 2003 testimony to Congress about the safety of flying humans on America's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELVs). "It's one thing for Mike to argue that EELVs can't send astronauts all the way to the Moon. But on Friday he claimed that EELVs are not safe enough, even for the easier job of launching astronauts to Earth orbit, and that's just not true," said Foundation Chairman Berin Szoka. "Just five years ago, Mike testified to Congress that EELVs were safe enough to launch astronauts to low Earth orbit. And the only thing that's changed since then is that the Delta IV and Atlas V systems have, together, successfully flown 20 times," Szoka added."

The Moon View, editorial, New York Times

"Last week, NASA released a newly restored image of a younger Earth. It was taken from Lunar Orbiter 1 in 1966, the first of several orbiters that helped gather data for the first moon landing in 1969. The photograph shows Earth just cresting the Moons curving horizon, the first picture of our planet framed by the surface of the Moon. When the photograph was published, in 1966, it looked like a newsprint version of a high-contrast snapshot from space, a stark scattering of whites and blacks. The data from the lunar orbiter was stored on old analog tape drives. Now, imaging experts at NASA have digitized those drives mining data that could not be recovered when they were first made and produced a high-resolution version of that historic photograph."

Another "Roadmap", Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"Considerable buzz was generated in space circles last week when The Planetary Society, the keepers of Carl Sagan's flame, released a report that recommended a re-orientation of the Vision for Space Exploration. This report was based in part on the results of an invitation-only workshop held at Stanford University last February. The object of that workshop was to examine U. S. national space policy with the specific aim of determining whether goals intermediate to a human mission to Mars other than the Moon were feasible and desirable. ... Space is a big place and ripe with many possibilities. The Planetary Society wants to keep it a sanctuary for science, regulated and ruled by scientists for scientific purposes. The Vision is about expanding opportunities in space for many different and varied parties, including scientists. "

Planetary Society Steps Beyond Moon for Roadmap to Space
Planetary Society Responds to Schmitt Resignation, earlier post
Former NAC Chair Jack Schmitt Quits Planetary Society Over New Roadmap, earlier post
Alt.VSE Meeting Postscript: No One From NASA Took Notes, earlier post
Stanford VSE Update Meeting: Yawn, earlier post
VSE Upgrade Update, earlier post
Alt.VSE Update, earlier post
Revising the VSE: Keeping Our Eyes On The Prize, earlier post

Moon Vs Mars

Why NASA should focus on the Moon, not Mars, Henry Spencer, New Scientist

"An exclusive focus on Mars does have one thing going for it. If you believe that any resumption of manned space exploration will inevitably end the way Apollo did, with follow-on programmes cancelled and flight-ready hardware consigned to museums as soon as the programme's first objective is met, then choosing the most interesting single destination makes sense. However . . . haven't we learned anything from doing that once? To me, it makes far more sense to try to build a programme that won't crash and burn as soon as it scores its first goal. That means systematically building capabilities and infrastructure, and doing first things first even if they aren't the most exciting parts."

Editor's note: The following email was sent to various members of the media and has been making the rounds.

From: Louis Friedman
Date: 18 November 2008 06:41:56 GMT
To: LUNAR-L@LISTSERV.ND.EDU, Harrison H. Schmitt
Cc: [MEDIA, etc.]
Subject: Senator Schmitt's Resignation from The Planetary Society

Dear All,

We received Jack Schmitt's open letter to us, "Resignation from [The Planetary] Society." which he has now distributed more widely. Because we think that our agreement is much stronger than our disagreement, we are asking him to reconsider:

Planetary Society Steps Beyond Moon for Roadmap to Space

"Several priorities came to light. For human exploration, Mars is clearly the next crucial goal. Lunar exploration can be an intermediate step towards that goal, but care needs to be taken that it not absorb too many resources and become the end goal in itself."

Moon takes a backseat in new space plan, New Scientist

"Instead of trying to recapture the thrill of the Apollo era of lunar exploration by putting people back on the Moon by 2020 - the vision outlined by President Bush in 2004 - the space advocacy organisation is urging the incoming Administration and Congress to set its sights farther beyond Earth."

Editor's note: I am not certain why anyone would take the Planetary Society seriously when it issues these roadmaps. First they were against humans back to the moon. Then, when NASA wants to go there and the notion is trendy, they are for it. Now that things are uncertain, they are against it again.

NASA Announces Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Leadership Changes

"NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Rick Gilbrech announced Wednesday that he will be leaving the agency for a position in the private sector. NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin announced that Doug Cooke, who has been serving as deputy associate administrator for the directorate since its inception in January 2004, will become the associate administrator. The change is effective Nov. 24."

Tawani 2008 International Science Team Preps for Antarctic Expedition

"The team will be on the ice for forty-five days in the Untersee Oasis of Antarctica where they will launch an interdisciplinary campaign to study this remote ecosystem. By studying the lake, soil and glacier ecosystems of the region, the team can better understand the physical and chemical environments that constrain life, and also identify novel organisms that have exploited these unique niches. These investigations will shed light not only on how life adapts to such extremes on Earth, but also shapes the search for life on other planets such as Mars as well as the icy moons of the outer solar system planets Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune, and even provide a glimpse of what Earth's earliest biosphere was like billions of years ago."

Update from Dale Andersen in Cape Town: "Looks like we will leave tomorrow as scheduled assuming the weather holds - so we hope to be on the ice by 6am Thursday Novolazarevskaya time. Its about a 6 hour flight from Cape Town to the station. Three to four days later, we should be on our way to Lake Untersee if the weather is good."

Editor's note: Dale and I have been doing this sort of thing for a long time. We're almost certain that he and I did one of the first websites updated from Antarctica back in 1997. Go to this website and see "How We Built This Website"



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

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