Exploration: February 2009 Archives

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Programmatic Workshop on NASA Lunar Surface Systems Concepts (presentations)

"As part of an ongoing collaboration, NASA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC) Space Enterprise Council (SEC) are conducting a workshop on NASA Lunar Surface Systems (LSS) Concepts. The objective is to provide a status of NASA's lunar surface exploration architecture, to share results of recent innovative lunar concept studies, and to seek feedback from U.S. industry and other interested parties."

Obama Will Stick with Bush Moon Plan, Aviation Week

"The fiscal 2010 NASA budget outline to be released by the Obama Administration Feb. 26 adds almost $700 million to the out-year figure proposed in the fiscal 2009 budget request submitted by former President Bush, and sticks with the goal of returning humans to the moon by 2020. The $18.7 billion that Obama will request for NASA - up from $18.026 billion for fiscal 2010 in the last Bush budget request - does not include the $1 billion NASA will receive in the $787 billion stimulus package that President Barack Obama signed Feb. 16. Aviation Week has learned that in addition to the human-lunar return, Obama wants to continue robotic exploration with probes to Mars and other Solar System destinations, as well as a space telescope to probe deeper into the universe."

NASA-Industry Lunar Surface Systems Workshop Set For Feb. 25-27

"NASA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Space Enterprise Council will hold a workshop on lunar surface system concepts to support human and robotic exploration on the moon by 2020. The workshop will take place Feb. 25 - 27 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H Street, NW, in Washington. The forum will provide a status of NASA's lunar surface exploration architecture and share results of recent innovative NASA, industry, and university lunar studies performed for NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and Constellation Program. NASA also will seek feedback from U.S. industry and other interested parties."

Editor's 1 Mar update: This paper has been removed from the NSS blog but has been republished here.

Editor's 2 Mar update: Buzz Aldrin has asked the other two authors of this paper to remove his name from it.

New Space Policy Statement by Buzz Aldrin, Aerospace Technology Working Group (via NSS Blog)

"In our view, there were several fundamental problems with the Bush Vision and its implementation for Space Exploration inherited from the get-go: ... (2) The VSE lacks strategic merit, which can only be built upon a sufficiently vetted decision-making process of logic and analytic rigor. Especially, such process should have been scrutinized through hearings to engage the American public and politicians. Instead, the Bush VSE was a product of a blind and near-childish emotional response to a series of domestic and international geopolitical events that occurred in 2003, such as the launch of China's Shenzou-5 manned spacecraft on the 15th of October and the STS-107 (Columbia) Space Shuttle disaster in early February."

Editor's note: "Blind and near-childish emotional response"? C'mon Buzz can't you try and be a little more accurate and engage in a little less armwaving to make your point? The "Bush Vision" has been repeatedly endorsed by both chambers of a Democrat-controlled Congress. Also, Buzz, I do not seem to recall hearing any of this criticism from you in 2004 when you were overtly campaigning for President Bush's re-election.

While there are some interesting ideas in this document, it is a little hypocritical to see Buzz and his co-authors dump on the VSE and its return to the moon program as being "imposed [on] the American people" without enough funding only to substitute their own grandiose program which includes even bigger projects across larger regions of the solar system with an equally vague description of who foots the bill or why they would pay for it. You can't just say the words "commercialization" and "development" and expect things to just magically occur.

As for their claim that this was not all discussed in the open, yes, the Bush folks were contradictory - but not at first. When the VSE was first announced Sean O'Keefe and Craig Steidle went to great lengths to open up the whole process for external input - and Buzz was there providing input. Several years later, when O'Keefe left and other political factions took the reigns, Mike Griffin came in and, in his impatience, simply swept away all that had been done before and imposed his own personal architecture. Now, several more years later, I guess it is once again time to throw all of that out too - good and bad.

Small wonder nothing ever seems to get built.

NASA seems to be much better at changing direction than consistently following its own direction - and space advocates seem to be the biggest cheerleaders for this constant state of turmoil. Each time there is a change in direction everyone ends up with a collective case of whiplash - only to immediately set the stage for another course change a few years hence. Imagine what this looks like to people outside the space community - taxpayers and legislators - when the people who are supposed to understand all of this space stuff keep changing their minds?

Small wonder space is a third tier political issue.

Inside NASA's New Moon Rover

Inside NASA's New Moon Rover

"Forgetting politics for a moment, the folks at NASA have managed to come up with a good guess at how such a rover might work - and have created something that you can drive. More importantly you can use it to perform meaningful work. To be certain, this is a vehicle that is designed to work on Earth - pneumatic tires, no life support system, etc. But that is not what it is designed to test. Rather, it is designed to be used as a rover might be used on the moon - not how you'd build the subsystems etc. for an actual moon rover. Once the utility requirements are firm, then you go and design the actual lunar rover. "

Forget The Moon

NASA urged to keep feet on Earth, Houston Chronicle

"A new report from Houston's Baker Institute declares that NASA should give up for now any ambitions of rocketing humans to the moon and focus instead on delivering payoffs in energy and the environment -- especially for climate change. Arguing that the space agency has an opportunity to prove "its relevance in the post-Cold War world," researchers at Rice University's Baker Institute of Public Policy urged the Obama administration to place the space agency on the front lines of efforts to harness electricity from such alternative energy sources as wind and solar power."

Maximizing NASA's Potential In Flight and on the Ground: Recommendations for the Next Administration, Baker Institute
Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program, NAS



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