Exploration: October 2009 Archives

An Astronaut Explains How We'll Fall In Love With Space Again, Leroy Chiao, Gizmodo

"The Constellation Program was a reasonable path, five years ago, when the Vision for Space Exploration was first formulated. Since then, budget shortfalls have caused significant delays. Moreover, the goals evolved into a focus on getting astronauts back to the Moon, to the development of the Ares family of rockets and the Orion spacecraft. The public generally is bored with going back to the Moon, since we already did this forty years ago."

Coming soon: Nigerians in space?, Global Post

"Nigeria really does have a space agency. The west African nation's National Space Research and Development Agency is already celebrating its 10th anniversary. And as America and Europe's space agencies set their sights on joint exploration of Mars, Nigeria has big plans of its own: It wants to send a Nigerian up into space in 2015, making Nigeria home to the first black African astronaut."

Keith's note: Ignore the first part of the article about the stranded Nigerian in space email scam. (Pause) While some may justifiably argue that this is really a case where money needs to be spent attending to Earthly needs, why is it that poor countries like Nigeria and more prosperous, but still poverty-straddled nations like India, Malaysia, and China (to some extent) all seem to think that putting one of their citizens into space is such a big deal? After all, it was first done nearly half a century ago. It certainly can't be all the high tech spinoffs that Nigerians enjoy since 99.99% of them have never even seen "smoke detectors, implantable pacemakers ..." etc. etc. and the other spinoffs that NASA loves to incessantly wave at the general public as a rationale for NASA spending.

What is it about space that excites these countries, but leaves us mostly bored - except every few years in a few states when job cuts suddenly appear and we hoist up our grand space accomplishments as an excuse reason to not put people out on the street?

What have these countries discovered about space exploration and its potential that we have long ago forgotten? What would it take for such a (re)discovery to happen in America?

LRO Image of Apollo 17 Landing Site

"LRO maneuvered into its 50-km mapping orbit on September 15. The next pass over the Apollo 17 landing site resulted in images with more than two times better resolution than previously acquired. At the time of this recent overflight the Sun was high in the sky (28 incidence angle) helping to bring out subtle differences in surface brightness."

Masten Goes For The Gold

Masten Space Systems Attempts Launch of Lunar Lander Rocket to Qualify for Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge Top Prize

"On Oct. 28 & 29, Masten Space Systems, led by former Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society (ERPS) president David Masten, will be the second of three teams attempting to complete the requirements for the Level 2 portion of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge (NGLLC), funded by NASA, and created and presented by the X PRIZE Foundation."

NRC: Fostering Visions for the Future: A Review of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, NRC

"As requested by Congress, this volume reviews the effectiveness of NIAC and makes recommendations concerning the importance of such a program to NASA and to the nation as a whole, including the proper role of NASA and the federal government in fostering scientific innovation and creativity and in developing advanced concepts for future systems. Key findings and recommendations include that in order to achieve its mission, NASA must have, and is currently lacking, a mechanism to investigate visionary, far-reaching advanced concepts. Therefore, a NIAC-like entity should be reestablished to fill this gap."

NASA Gives 'Go' for the Ares I-X Test Rocket Launch on Oct. 27

"NASA has completed a review of the Ares I-X development rocket's readiness for its flight test and selected Tuesday, Oct. 27, as the official launch date. Liftoff is scheduled for 8 a.m. EDT from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida."

NASA has two days to launch Ares I-X before rocket range is lost, Huntsville Times

"NASA has two days - Tuesday and Wednesday - to launch the Ares I-X test rocket or it could be delayed until December or perhaps next year, said test Launch Director Jeff Spalding this afternoon. Including the Ares I-X test, Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Station have five launches to work over the next month - Ares, a shuttle mission, and three commercial launches."

The NASA Ares 1-X rocket is set for launch -- but watch those clouds!, Christian Science Monitor

"That electric charge can interfere with communications between the rocket and the ground. Since this is a test flight, no one wants anything to block the flow of data from the rocket to eager engineers back at the Kennedy Space Center. And if the range-safety officer has to blow up the rocket during its ascent because it's misbehaving in ways that threaten life or property, you want to make sure the explosives on the rocket receive the detonation command. This isn't a concern for the space shuttles. They were designed with this phenomenon in mind. But the Ares 1-X is a different beast, and the rule has come back into play."

Inaccuracies at SaveSpace

Brevard's 'Save Space' campaign pushes for NASA funding, TCPalm.com

"Brevard County officials launched a Web site, http://www.SaveSpace.us, to try to generate 500,000 letters to President Barack Obama by Oct. 31. The Save Space Web site has racked up more than 42,000 hits since its Sept. 28 launch, said Kimberly Prosser, county spokesman. The site includes six downloadable letter templates and printable posters and banners. A campaign cornerstone: Video footage of Obama's August 2008 campaign stop in Titusville, where he pledged to "help close the gap and ensure that our space program doesn't suffer when the shuttle goes out of service."

Keith's note: I posted a comment about the misleading video that this group has posted on their Facebook page. Laden with depressing music, scare mongering titles, and highly edited short snippets taken from hours of Augustine deliberations, this video purports to focus on Augustine Option 4b which talks about shuttle derived launch vehicles. Well, it is actually a propoganda piece for the DIRECT concept - one of two shuttle-derived concepts briefed to the Augustine Committee. At one point NASA JSC's John Shannon, an advocate for the other shuttle-derived concept that was thoroughly briefed (yet ignored in this video), the Shuttle Sidemount HLV, is shown talking about a shuttle-derived launch vehicle while DIRECT imagery is shown. At no time is the Shuttle Sidemount concept even mentioned. Very deceptive.

Well, they did not like my comment, so they removed it. This is rather odd given that a decision to go with the Shuttle-derived Sidemount option is most likely to retain current Space Shuttle jobs - just as they are right now. I guess the easiest way to deal with conflicting or critical information is to ignore it or remove it.

Oh yes, "42,000 hits" since 28 September is not that much to crow about given the number of people affected by this issue and the goal of getting 500,000 letters written by this coming Saturday. Many websites that are considered "small, low traffic" do this sort of traffic in a single day. Regardless as to whether this group is referring to 42,000 "hits", "file transfers", or page views" on their website, there is a zero missing in all of their numbers that one would expect to see if their effort was actually on the path toward generating 500,000 letters by 31 October 2009.

That said, this group is not sitting down but is standing up and taking some action. Inacucracies aside, that is to be applauded - and emulated. Hopefully this sort of thing can start to happen again in the future - but not just at the last second every time some scary job loss looms - but also in the quieter times when making the value of space exploration to the entire population can be done - not just focusing upon a portion of Florida.

Augustine Report Commentary

5 Surprising Passages From the Full Augustine Report, Popular Mechanics

"NASA released the full text crafted by its Review of Human Spaceflight Plans Committee (the so-called Augustine committee) today. The 157-page examination lacked an endorsement of an overall strategy, but there are a few passages of interest that were not included in the summary that was released in September. Here are a few passages that leapt out at us."

Throttling back ambitions would leave NASA adrift, opinion, Houston Chronicle

"NASA has been trying to explore space on a shoestring. Because the cash-starved Orion won't be ready until at least 2016, and the shuttle is being retired next year, the U.S. will be forced to launch astronauts on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft at $51 million per seat."

NASA's New Space Race Needs Life Support, NPR

"Houston, we have a problem: According to a blue-ribbon panel, the U.S. space program is on an unsustainable trajectory. This past week, the Human Spaceflight Plans Committee released a report saying that unless NASA receives more money fast, the space agency will have to scale back its near-term ambitions."

NASA. It's worth it., editorial, Houston Chronicle

"The government has already allocated close to $800 billion on economic stimulus, so it's difficult to understand why NASA, with a full-time and contractor workforce totaling nearly 60,000 nationwide and 18,000 in the Clear Lake area, isn't worth an additional investment to continue manned space exploration. NASA's role in stimulating technological development with widespread applications to other industries is well established."

No to NASA: Augustine Commission Wants to More Boldly Go, Science

"And the two panel members in addition expressed their interest in bypassing a landing on the moon--the destination set by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2004--in favor of a lunar flyby or rendezvous with an asteroid or Martian moon."

Greason: It's time to base U.S. space policy on the "truth", Orlando Sentinel

"OS: Now, let me put something to you that has been put to me. I don't necessarily agree with it but it is a sentiment that is out there. By not finding anything useful the U.S. can do in space for NASA's current human space flight budget of $7 billion or $8 billion a year, the committee failed. What's your reaction to that sentiment?

JG: It's not failure to point out truth. The truth is the truth. And it is high time that national space policy was made on the basis of truth and not on the basis of convenience. It is not true to say that we found there is nothing NASA can do within its current budget. There are two options laid out in the report that NASA can do with its current budget. What we did not find was a way for NASA to do significant human exploration beyond low Earth orbit in the near term with this current budget. And I don't like that answer either but that is not going to change it."

Alabama Hates Norm

Alabama lawmakers in Washington blast Augustine panel report, Huntsville Times

"U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Hallville, said the report provide no safety data that would help the White House or leaders in Congress to guide the future of NASA. U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith, D-Huntsville, said the report was incomplete, ill-conceived and would delay NASA's progress. U.S Sen. Richard Shelby said the report does not address safety concerns that could come about from extending the space shuttle past its planned 2010 retirement date and using the International Space Station as it ages. U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, said if the Obama administration is serious about space and NASA it will make sure the extra $3 billion a year the Augustine panel said NASA needs is in the federal budget."

NASA administrator addresses Thursday's expected space flight report, WAFF

"There are a million different routes to go where you want to go," Bolden said. "I know we want to go to Mars one of these days. How we get there is not yet decided, that's not tentative. That's constructive discussion and dialogue that will go on."

NASA's future missions in Obama's hands, Houston Chronicle

"The premier finding is that the human spaceflight program that the United States is currently pursuing is on an unsustainable trajectory," said retired aerospace executive Norman Augustine, who led the panel for the past five months.

Panel Says Planned NASA Rocket Won't Do the Job, US News and World Report

"The committee charged with reviewing NASA's spaceflight program concludes that the Ares 1 rocket being developed to take astronauts into space after the Space Shuttle is retired is the wrong vehicle for the job."

No to NASA: Augustine Commission Wants to More Boldly Go, Science

"And the two panel members in addition expressed their interest in bypassing a landing on the moon--the destination set by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2004--in favor of a lunar flyby or rendezvous with an asteroid or Martian moon.

U.S. panel pitches public-private space taxis, Reuters

"The United States could get astronauts back into space faster and spend less money by scrapping the Ares rocket designed to succeed the shuttle and turning instead to public-private space taxis, a presidential advisory panel said on Thursday.

Nasa 'should scrap Ares rocket', BBC

"A White House panel has suggested that Nasa should scrap its investment in the Ares rocket and instead focus on exploring places beyond the moon."

Put money into NASA or forget human spaceflight, panel says, Washington Post

"It is likely that the Flexible Path approach would engender more Public Engagement than the Moon First approach. In every flight, the Flexible Path voyages would visit places where humans have never been before, with each mission extending farther than the previous one, potentially leading to a full dress rehearsal for a Mars landing," the report states."

Human Spaceflight Committee Releases Its Report

"After an extended period of writing and editing, the Augustine Committee's final report was delivered to the White House yesterday. Today it was released to the public at a media briefing held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

The Augustine Committee - named after its chair, Norm Augustine - is formally known as the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee. The Committee was chartered earlier this year by the White House under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). As such, its deliberations and other activities are done pretty much in the open. With the advent of web streaming, and other social networking tools, nearly everything that the committee did was done in full view of the public.

As such there should have not been any surprises contained in this report. That said, people still expected to see something new today such as the cancellation of Ares 1 or the selection of a new heavy launch vehicle. None of that happened. It was never going to happen.

In a nutshell, the Augustine Committee viewed NASA's current human spaceflight program as being in a time of transition. Mounting costs and technical challenges had resulted in the current approach being deemed as unable to meet the goals it was intend to accomplish."

Senator Nelson says White House will support robust space program

"It is perpetuating the perilous practice of pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources," the report says. More specifically, the space program needs another $3 billion annually. "I've asked the president to use money from leftover stimulus funds," said Nelson, in a prepared statement.

Chairman Gordon and Subcommittee Chairwoman Giffords Comment on Augustine Committee Report

"Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) added: "While I look forward to reading the Augustine panel's final report, Congress has already made its decisions on the issues considered by the panel. Now that both internal and external independent reviews have confirmed that the Constellation program is being well executed, we know what needs to be done. Let's get on with it and cease contemplating our collective navels."

Keith's note: Um, with all due respect, the issue that Norm Augustine reiterated multiple times today is "not could NASA build Ares, but should it build Ares". He did not give a unequivocal backing for continuation of the program of record. Rather he said that he thought that NASA could eventually make it all work. Congress may well have "already made its decisions", but the White House may have some different ideas as to what they want NASA to do. Stay tuned.

Overview and Introduction of Augustine Committee Findings, OSTP

"The Committee has conducted an objective and comprehensive assessment and has found that the U.S. human space flight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory. Independent analysis conducted for the Committee determined that the proposed Ares I crew launch vehicle and Orion crew capsule (each part of NASA's plans for carrying astronauts to space in the future) would not become fully operational until at least 2017. However, this assumed that the International Space Station would be retired from service in 2016 - thus giving no immediate destination for the Ares I and Orion vehicles once they became available. Even with an unconstrained budget, the Committee determined that the Ares I and Orion would likely be available no earlier than 2016. Further, to enable astronauts to return to the Moon by the early 2020s, NASA would need at least $50 billion in additional funds, reflecting significant increases and schedule delays relative to initial estimates."

Which Way Do We Go?

Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee Final Report, Executive Summary

"The nation is facing important decisions on the future of human spaceflight. Will we leave the close proximity of low- Earth orbit, where astronauts have circled since 1972, and explore the solar system, charting a path for the eventual expansion of human civilization into space? If so, how will we ensure that our exploration delivers the greatest benefit to the nation? Can we explore with reasonable assurances of human safety? Can the nation marshal the resources to embark on the mission?"

Poll: Which of the three paths presented by the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee do you prefer?

Mr. President, Will You Lead Us to Greatness in Space?, Buzz Aldrin, Huffington Post

"In his grand novel about the space program, author James Michener put it plainly. "The world is called dark," Michener wrote, "not because the sun fails to shine, but because people fail to see the light." So let there be light.

President Barack Obama, the rest is up to you.

America, will you urge the president to pick a bold new mission for our nation in space? Call or text the president at 202-456-1111 or Switchboard: 202-456-1414. or email him at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact."

"Last week LCROSS slammed into the Moon. Subsequent analyses showed that a large plume of debris was thrown up and that NASA captured a significant amount of data. Yet the public saw something very different: a mission that was designed to "bomb the Moon" and produce a pretty explosion - live for all to see. Well, no one watching could see anything close to what NASA had predicted. Clearly, NASA failed to explain the value of LCROSS to the public and over-hyped the anticipated visuals. That said, there was once a time when people understood what NASA did. Maybe the NASA of today should stop to look back at how it was once relevant. Oh yes: you may have heard of something hot and sexy called "participatory exploration" as it relates to new ways for NASA to engage the public. Well, guess what: NASA totally understood the concept back in 1967. Read on." More

Bolden Speaks to Investors

Remarks by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden To The National Association of Investment Companies

"You may not know it, but NASA also has the authority to fund prizes. Over this weekend, NASA just held a competition in California with $750,000 in prizes for anyone in America who could move the most "regolith" --- or moon dirt --- with a robot. Twenty-three teams competed. The winning team is "Paul's Robotics", led by a young man by the name Paul Ventimiglia. Paul not only beat out 22 other competitor teams, he beat teams of professional aerospace engineers, and teams of world-class robotics experts. Paul is a college student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. He heard about the competition from a high school teacher. Now that is inspiring."

NASA Chief Praises Commercial Spaceflight, Suborbital Science, and Innovation Prizes in Latest Speech, Commercial Spaceflight Federation

Human Space Flight Review Committee Report Available Thursday

"Human Space Flight Review Committee Chairman Norman Augustine will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. EDT, on Thursday, Oct. 22, in the Zenger Room of the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, in Washington. Augustine will be accompanied by committee member Ed Crawley. Printed copies of the committee's final report will be available during the press conference and an electronic copy of the report will be posted to the committee's Web site at the start of the briefing."

Digging Teams Claim Victory in NASA Regolith Competition

"Nineteen teams pushed their robotic competitors to the limit and three teams claimed a total of $750,000 in NASA prizes for their hard work and innovation at this year's Regolith Excavation Challenge held at NASA's Ames Research Center on Moffett Field. After two days of intense competitive drama, organizers conferred Paul's Robotics of Worcester, MA, with the first place title, second went to Terra Engineering of Gardena, CA, and Team Braundo of Rancho Palos Verde, CA, took home third."

NASA 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge Kicks Off

NASA 2009 Regolith Excavation Games Continue Into Second Day

Going To Mars - To Stay

Travel to Mars - on a one-way ticket?, Houston Chronicle

"A blue-ribbon panel on human spaceflight recently declared Mars to be NASA's ultimate objective, but admitted humans aren't going there any time soon. In fact, the Augustine panel appointed by President Barack Obama said that without a substantial infusion of cash, NASA couldn't even send humans back to the moon in the next few decades. Depressing news, indeed, for the city that trains and houses astronauts. But what if NASA could land astronauts on Mars in a decade, for not ridiculously more money than the $10 billion the agency spends annually on human spaceflight? It's possible, say some space buffs, although there's a catch. The astronauts we'd send would never come home."

Diving Through A Microbial Landscape in Lake Untersee, Antarctica

"There's not much in the ice-covered lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys to interest anglers looking to land the big one. But for scientists who want to know more about some of Earth's earliest organisms -- and, by extension, to recognize what life may look like on other planets -- those unique ecosystems represent a useful portal to the past. Dale Andersen, Dawn Sumner and the rest of their team will spend nearly two months camped out at Lake Joyce in the Pearse Valley to understand more about those behaviors. Several team members, including Andersen, will actually scuba dive in the lake, using fluormeters and microelectrodes while underwater to detect, measure and quantify photosynthetic activity of the benthic mats and obtain samples for lab work on the surface."

An Open Letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Robert Bigelow, Space News

"Both large, experienced companies like Boeing, and new entrepreneurial firms like Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceX, believe in the value of commercial crew. The Atlas 5 has already proven itself more than capable of delivering high-value cargo, and, if a commercial crew program is initiated, the Atlas will readily prove itself capable of delivering crew to LEO. Herein lies the answer to your human spaceflight dilemma. A commercial crew program can easily return Americans to space in a mere four years for the amount of funding recommended by the Augustine Committee."

Keith's note: When I originally posted a link to this article last night I was able to access and read it even though I do not subscribe to Space News. Now Space News/Space.com has decided to shut off free access and only make it available to paid subscribers. As such, I have posted the letter here, courtesy of Bob Bigelow: "An Open Letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden From Robert Bigelow"

Norm Is About To Deliver

Keith's note: Mutiple sources report that the Augustine Committee's Report will be formally delivered on 21 October.

Bolden talks frankly: Ares I might be dead but so are EELVs, Hyperbola

"What was surprising was the degree to which Bolden had clearly already decided that Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles were not going to be a part of that future. Despite this journalist's prodding about the interest showninEELVs during the Augustine review Bolden was very clear, they were not man rated and multiple launch scenarios with LEO rendezvous and docking was just a no-no; so this was one formertwo-star US Marine Corp general this blogger decided it was not worth arguing with"

Keith's note: From what I hear from in and around the 9th floor, Charlie Bolden's actual opinion (and that of those around him) is somewhat different than is portrayed in Hyperbola. While there is not much interest at NASA in the evolution of EELVs towards providing a heavy launch vehicle capability, there is certainly continued interest in the use of EELVs as part of a commerical crew launch capability. As such EELVs most certainly have not been ruled out or seen as being "dead" as an option. Stay tuned. The Augustine report lands at the White House next week and then a lot of things will start to break loose.

SpaceX hopes to launch first manned commercial rocket, Orlando Sentinel

"Asked what bugs them most about NASA outsourcing the job of flying crew to the International Space Station, some astronauts roll their eyes and say: "Dragon." That's the name of the capsule being built by SpaceX, the aerospace startup founded by Internet tycoon Elon Musk, a capsule designed to be fully automated. But with no controls to "fly" their ride, astronauts fear they'll be "Spam in a can" -- little more than human cargo. And if they don't pilot a ship, they worry, how can they keep the fleet of T-38 jets that are the symbol of the astronaut corps?"

"This is an image of Earth and the Moon, acquired at 5:20 a.m. MST on 3 October 2007, at a range of 142 million kilometers, which gives the HiRISE image a scale of 142 km/pixel and an Earth diameter of about 90 pixels and a Moon diameter of 24 pixels. The phase angle is 98 degrees, which means that less than half of the disks of the Earth and Moon have direct illumination. We could image Earth/Moon at full disk illumination only when they are on the opposite side of the sun from Mars, but then the range would be much greater and the image would show less detail." More information

A Vague Call To Action

Keith's note: The Coalition for Space Exploration put an advisory out this morning about some public service announcement videos they produced for www.KeepAmericaInSpace.com. The first one is above, the second is below.

These are certainly nicely made videos. My prime criticism, however, is that after all the nostalgic imagery and emotions are brought forth, viewers are not told what specific threats are being made to American space exploration and what specific things they need to do to stop these threats from affecting America's space program. All you get are hints and vague suggestions that things might not continue - with no explanation as to why.

If these videos are meant to be a call to action, then they are missing some critical components. Why do we need to Keep America In Space? What (or who) is threatening to prevent this? Is it President Obama who is doing this? Members of Congress?

These videos impart a sense that things are going OK as they are. If so, then why make the video in the first place? What are you asking viewers to do - and to think? Who do they contact in order to stop these threats? Congress? The White House? NASA? What do they say? What needs to be fixed?

If something needs to be done then you need to give people the tools to fix things and a "to do" list to implement if you want things to be fixed. You can't just drop hints and expect things to happen.

These ads (again, nicely done from a production standpoint) seem to be aimed at people who already support space exploration. In other words, more choir practice. When will the Coalition - and all "space advocates" - finally break this habit? You really do not need to convince the faithful. They are already in the tank.

These videos are described as "public service announcements". You need to reach out into the real world i.e. the "public" and make the discussion resonate with life outside of the space community. You know, bad economy, global warming, etc. Until that happens, these ads just sound like they are saying "you should support space because we are inspired by it - and because we work here".

So what do you think?

GeoEye Looks For LCROSS

This GeoEye-1 satellite image shows the LCROSS crater impact area on the Moon. This image was taken when the GeoEye-1 Earth-imaging satellite was on the dark side of the Earth over the central Pacific heading northward at a speed of 4 miles per second. The image was taken 47 seconds after Centaur's impact. Resolution is about 230 meters.

Larger images.

Charting The Solar System

This fascinating graphic by Sean McNaughton at National Geographic shows all interplanetary missions since the dawn of ths Space age.

Larger version.

Moon Mining

2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge

"A record number of entrants have signed up to compete in the 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge and its whopping $750,000 prize money. Twenty-three teams have fulfilled the application requirements to compete in the October 17 and 18 event at the NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field in Mountain View. The competition requires teams to build a roving lunar excavator that can "navigate, excavate, and transfer 150 kg of simulated lunar regolith (moon dirt)" into a collector bin within 30 minutes. As part of NASA's Centennial Challenges designed to incubate cutting-edge aerospace technology through non-traditional incentives and public competition, the competing excavators must carry their own power source and are required to be controlled remotely in a way that mimics the logistics of lunar surface communications. Each team has just one chance at the prize. Thirteen of the teams are returning to compete after having attempted in prior years."

Keith's note: After he sent Mike Coats his thoughts on the Augustine Committee, Jeff Hanley forwarded these comments to others with some additional commentary. That email was forwarded again - and again ...

"From: Jeff Hanley
Date: Wed, 2 Sep 2009 20:25:13
Subject: Fw: Reaction...

fyi - Coats gave me a draft of the Augustine 'exec summary', and after reading it I sent him these notes...

My overall reaction is 'what a fcking mess' - they make empty claims of 'possible' this and'could result in' that with no data, they contradict themselves by claiming to be worried about life cycle cost and then pushing 'options' that actually are WORSE for LCC, they dismiss anything positive about Ares I or Constellationin general, base theirfindings on a vacuum of systems engineering or responsible programmaticassessments, and ignore THEIR OWN statements from their public sessions that'any change in path should be compelling' by being dismissive ofCx as defined.



Internal NASA Email from Constellation manager Jeff Hanley to JSC Center Director Mike Coats

Blasting for lunar H20 on CNN.com - NASAwatch.com's Keith Cowing talks about the rocket that crashed into the moon in search of water.

Margaret Warner's Full Interview With Keith Cowing of NASA Watch regarding LCROSS

Internal NASA Email from Constellation manager Jeff Hanley to JSC Center Director Mike Coats

"Page 12 "In the Ares I plus Ares V system planned by Constellation, the Ares I launches the Orion and docks in LEO with the Altair lander launched on the Ares V. This is the system planned by the Constellation Program. It has the advantage of projected very high ascent crew safety, but delays the development of the Ares V heavy lift vehicle until after the independently operated Ares I is developed."

. Great heavy sigh.

. This paragraph demonstrates either an intentional mischaracterization of the facts or a clear lack of understanding of Constellation."

NASA Invites Media to View Historic Ares 1-X Move

"Reporters are invited to cover the historic Ares I-X rocket move to Launch Pad 39B on Oct. 19 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first flight test of NASA's Constellation Program, Ares I-X is targeted to launch on Oct. 27. First motion for Ares I-X out of Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad is targeted for 12:01 a.m. EDT on Oct. 19. The 4.2-mile journey is expected to take approximately seven hours. Activities include a first motion photo and interview opportunities with Ares I-X managers. In addition, a sunrise photo opportunity will be available at 7 a.m."

Keith's note: Why is this "historic"? This is not the first time that a large rocket has been moved on the crawler transporter - Saturn rockets were much bigger - and Ares 1-X is mostly built out of dummy parts or systems borrowed from other rockets. So ... why is this "historic"? Or is this "historic" because it is the first time NASA has built only one copy of an expensive rocket with lingering doubts that no more will ever be built?

Keith's note: As was the case yesterday with this NASA Watch posting "Let's Bomb The Moon Into Oblivion Once And For All" JSC IT has apparently once again blocked this NASA Watch posting of CNN video as well. What are these people afraid of? Streaming video? Do they block NASA TV?

Last Augustine panel meeting ends in debate over Ares I, Orlando Sentinel

"The last public hearing of a White House space review committee on Thursday ended in a debate over whether NASA's controversial Ares I crew rocket was safer than other rockets and should be scored higher in rankings of the various options the panel would present to the White House. The decision was made to not rate the safety of any rockets, in part because the committee members decided it was impossible to accurately assess the safety of space ships that have never flown before, like the Ares I."

Direction of NASA's Future at an Impasse, Wired

"The specific vehicles and systems involved in the missions were not a significant factor, said Ed Crawley, an MIT professor and committee member, in introducing the meeting. Still, some members, notably Bohdan Bejmuk, chair of the Constellation program Standing Review Board, argued that the Ares I should get a higher safety rating than its competitors. "I completely disagree with that assessment," shot back Jeff Greason, CEO of XCOR Aerospace and vice-chair of Personal Spaceflight Federation."

'Deep space' mission is frontrunner in NASA review, New Scientist

"Augustine noted that the committee would not give an overall ranking for the options, since it would require making judgements about the relative importance of the various criteria. "That's beyond the committee's capability," he said. "For example, we're not in the position to judge the possibility of adding funds to the various programmes."

Panel's report threatens NASA's mission, The Hill

"A report suggesting that NASA's space travel goals are too ambitious for its budget is imperiling efforts by Florida and Texas lawmakers to win more money for the agency's budget. The Human Space Flight Committee, which was created by President Barack Obama, said this week that NASA's flight program is on an "unsustainable trajectory" due to its "pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources."

President Obama kicked off Astronomy Night on the South Lawn of the White House. Some 150 middle school students from the Washington area got to learn more about their universe using more than 20 telescopes provided by NASA and other organizations. They observed Jupiter, the moon and selected stars. Other activities included science presentations with samples of meteorites and moon rocks. NASA's Museum Alliance, a consortium of museums, science centers and planetariums conducted activities worldwide to coincide with the White House event. Astronomy Night helped note the International Year of Astronomy, a global celebration of contributions to society and culture in the 400 years since Galileo first used a telescope.

VASIMR Fired at 200 kW

VASIMR VX-200 Reaches 200 kW Power Milestone (with videos), Ad Astra Rocket Company

"Ad Astra Rocket Company's VASIMR(R) VX-200 rocket prototype reached its highly- coveted 200 kW maximum power milestone at 11:59 am (CST) in tests conducted at the company's Houston laboratory. The DC power trace actually exceeded the design requirement by 1 kW and exhibited the clear signature of a wellestablished plateau at peak power (see graph). The achievement comes after an intense experimental campaign that began last April when the engine was fitted with a powerful low temperature superconducting magnet, a critical component that enables VASIMR(R) to process large amounts of plasma power. The electrical power processing is accomplished using high efficiency, 95%, solid state RF generators built by Nautel Ltd of Halifax, Canada."

NASA review panel report likely to be delivered to White House by mid-October, Huntsville Times

"A much anticipated independent report about the future of NASA and human space flight probably will not be sent to President Barack Obama until the middle of October, a spokesman for panel told The Times today. "I don't see a firm date just now," said Augustine Commission spokesman Doc Mirelson. "What we are seeing is probably the second week of October."

Keith's note: As such it is unlikely that the White House will have anything definitive to say until perhaps a few days before Thanksgiving.

Augustine Space Flight Committee Announces Additional Meeting

"The Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee will hold a public teleconference on Thursday, Oct. 8, from approximately 1 to 2 p.m. EDT. The only topic for discussion will be finalization of scoring of options the committee presented in their summary report on Sept. 8. This meeting will be held by teleconference only. The teleconference will be open to the public."



Monthly Archives

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Exploration category from October 2009.

Exploration: September 2009 is the previous archive.

Exploration: November 2009 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.