Exploration: May 2010 Archives

Something Old, Something New, and If We do it Right, Maybe Even Something Bold! , Dennis Wingo

"As a long time space advocate, I have found recent events to be extremely disheartening. Before my eyes, I am seeing the battle between the old exploration plan (Constellation), and the new plan put forth recently by NASA and the White House. This is battle is compounded by the fact that it is forcing a Congress unwilling to take on more fights before the election to allow NASA to operate for months under a continuing resolution (CR) for its next budget year.

The effect of this CR will be that NASA will have two zombie programs. By "zombie" I mean programs that were supposed to go away in FY 2011 but will be in a limbo state under a threatened Continuing Resolution - funded with their end dates no longer certain, but unable to truly move forward as they await their fate."

NASA's mission to nowhere: Big, fat, pointless and expensive describes plan to twiddle our fingers, Paul Spudis and Bob Zubrin, Washington Times

"Although we are known for holding different opinions on the order and importance of specific objectives in space, we are united in our concern over this move to turn away from the Vision for Space Exploration (hereafter referred to as Vision). Vision gave NASA's human spaceflight program a clear direction: to reach the moon and Mars. Congressional authorization bills in 2005 (under Republican leadership) and 2008 (under Democratic leadership) endorsed this goal."

NASA Announces Posting of Space Exploration Workshop Charts

"Presentation charts for the opening-day briefings of NASA's Exploration Enterprise Workshop in Galveston, Texas, will be posted online at noon EDT, Monday, May 24. The two-day workshop brings together a broad community of space exploration stakeholders from government, industry and academia. The Exploration Systems Mission Directorate's plans for human and robotic space exploration and the administration's fiscal year 2011 budget request for the agency will be discussed."

Keith's note: Exactly one year ago I had the profound and life-altering privilege to live at Everest Base Camp at an altitude of 17,500 feet for a month so as to watch - and listen - and report - as my friend Scott Parazynski walked up into the Jet Stream to the summit of Mt. Everest. In the ensuing year, not a week goes by without one of us sending an email to the other noting that we still think about this epic part of our lives every day. Together with our friends Miles O'Brien and Bob Jacobs and the good folks at NASA HQ PAO, we sought to bring this experience to as many people as we possibly could using all manner of Internet, social media, and satellite toys - er tools.

Yes, if you look at the photo closely (larger view) you will see that Scott carried my first NASA badge from 1990 and a picture of astronaut Suni Williams' famous space dog Gorbie to the summit - all held together with authentic NASA duct tape.

The video below captures a moment in time shortly after Scott reached the summit. Our fervent hope in this era of "participatory exploration" and "citizen science" is that we helped to set the standard for how NASA will document and relay its future accomplishments to the world.

FWIW Charlie Bolden, you are not the only person who gets misty-eyed.

More information on the summit bid is online here. For those of you in the Houston area, Scott will be making a presentation on his climb at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on Thursday, 20 May. Please try and stop by. No doubt he will continue to spread utter lies about my experiences with the yaks of Nepal.

I carried an Apollo 11 Moon rock with me from America to Nepal and then to Everest Base Camp. Scott then carried it to the summit of Mt. Everest. We're still arguing as to which one of us has a world record for the amount of time that a Moon rock was in intimate proximity to our body. In either case, this year the Moon rock and a piece of the summit of Everest was carried into orbit on STS-130 to the ISS where it resides now.

Multiple historic and exploration resonances abound - just as they should since Neil Armstrong and Edmund Hillary were friends.

Ad astra y'all.

Exclusive Video: Scott Parazynski on Summit of Mt. Everest

Mars Institute "Moon-1" Humvee Rover reaches Devon Island, High Arctic

"An international team of researchers led by Mars Institute scientist Dr. Pascal Lee successfully reached Devon Island, High Arctic, on Sunday, 16 May, 2010 after a 13-day, 150 km vehicular journey from Cornwallis Island to Devon Island, along the fabled Northwest Passage."

Driving to Devon Island Across Sea Ice, earlier post

NASA Request for Information Synopsis for the Flagship Technology Demonstrations

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is seeking information through this Request for Information (RFI) to identify, improve and/or enhance approaches that will demonstrate the targeted technologies described in this RFI. NASA has defined six (6) targeted technologies that are to be demonstrated via spaceflight in support of the Flagship Technology Demonstration (FTD) effort. Towards this end, four (4) Point of Departure (POD) missions have been identified. While emphasis in the responses should address the existing POD missions, alternate approaches may be suggested in order to more efficiently demonstrate the selected technologies."

Life and Death - and Life - Outside My Tent Flap

"May 6th 2009 was one of the more remarkable days I have had in many a year - so much so that It took me several days to collect my thoughts on all that transpired. The day began with a friend and his colleagues departing on a personal quest. It was interrupted by an abrupt and brutal reminder of just how deadly this quest could be and how others can die in its pursuit. A life was lost this day. Lives were also saved. In both cases, it was Sherpas who either bore the loss or engaged in selfless heroics. I continue to be amazed and yet humbled by these happy, usually quiet, courteous people. Their strength and skill serve only to underscore their humble, understated nature. Alas, this amazing capacity often goes under appreciated."

Massive Avalanche Over The Lower Khumbu Icefall (photos)

Mars Institute team to complete Arctic sea-ice drive along fabled Northwest Passage to reach "Mars on Earth"

"An international team led by Mars Institute scientist Dr. Pascal Lee will depart the Arctic community of Resolute Bay today aboard the Moon-1 Humvee Rover on a sea-ice crossing expedition. The team is headed for the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station (HMPRS) on Devon Island, High Arctic, a remote outpost dedicated to space exploration on the world's largest uninhabited island. The Moon-1 is an experimental vehicle simulating future pressurized rovers that will one day allow humans to explore long distances on the Moon and Mars. Last year, the scientists completed a record-setting 494 km drive on sea-ice in the Moon-1 along the fabled Northwest Passage between Kugluktuk and Cambridge Bay, Nunavut."

Keith's update: You can follow the Moon-1 Humvee as it traverses the ice between Cornwallis Island and Devon Island here LIVE via SPOT. Status reports are online here. As you can see, they are now on the sea ice.

Keith's note: ARC PAO is deliberately ignoring this activity even though it is coordinated at ARC. Go figure. FAIL.

Going commercial frees NASA for deeper space, Alan Stern, Orlando Sentinel

"The administration's wise commercialization approach echoes an immensely successful path taken by NASA in the past. Consider: At the dawn of the Space Age, all satellites were built and launched by governments. But early on, communications satellites were encouraged to go commercial. The result: a $100 billion-plus spinoff industry that employs thousands of workers to build the satellites, their ground stations, launchers and associated command and control infrastructure. It also launches more satellites annually than any other form of spaceflight. The money saved frees NASA to do other things with its resources."

NASA Invites Public to Take Virtual Walk On The Moon

"More than 37 years after humans last walked on the moon, planetary scientists are inviting members of the public to return to the lunar surface as "virtual astronauts" to help answer important scientific questions. No spacesuit or rocket ship is required - all visitors need to do is go to www.moonzoo.org and be among the first to see the lunar surface in unprecedented detail. New high-resolution images, taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), offer exciting clues to unveil or reveal the history of the moon and our solar system."

Keith's note: ESMD AA Doug Cooke briefed Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan today via telecon on the results of NASA's internal exploration working group studies. No word yet as to when the rest of us will learn what Doug told Armstrong and Cernan - perhaps next week a this Senate hearing on 12 May?

Reshaped spaceflight plan gains support, MSNBC

"Nelson has arranged a high-profile Senate hearing on the future of U.S. human spaceflight for May 12, just two days before the shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift off on its final trip to the International Space Station. Among those who may testify are Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, the first man and the last man to walk on the moon."

Keith's update: The witnesses for Wedensday's hearing have been announced: Holdren, Bolden, Armstrong, Cernan, and Augustine.

NASA Request for Information: Enabling Technology Development and Demonstration Program

"In Fiscal Year 2011, NASA plans to begin the Enabling Technology Development and Demonstrations (ETDD) Program. The primary goal of the ETDD Program is to develop and demonstrate the technologies needed to reduce cost and expand the capability of future space exploration activities. A secondary goal is to create opportunities for engineers and scientists from NASA, private industry, and academia to gain experience in designing, building, and operating new space technologies and spacecraft. A third goal is to develop technologies that can be relevant to non-exploration space activities and life on Earth."

Keith's note: Hmm, didn't Craig Steidle try and set NASA off on this path 6 years ago? Imagine if NASA had followed that path.

We must remain a nation of spacefarers, opinion, June Scobee Rodgers, Arizona Republic

"So now, there is a great national debate on the future of our space program. Do we go on to asteroids and then Mars, perhaps finding life on that tantalizing world, even if it takes decades to get there? Or do we focus on Earth, using the orbital perspective to see and steward our home planet and its resources? Perhaps we should fuel the creative energies of private space exploration. NASA's new direction certainly embraces that entrepreneurial spirit, including flying student experiments on new types of spacecraft. Perhaps this opens up "space exploration for the rest of us."

Keith's note: NASA civil servant Nick Skytland is one of the Education and Public Outreach Officers for NEEMO-14. He is overtly using his Twitter account for the performance of his official duties - yet he still blocks specific taxpayers from following his postings. I have to wonder when NASA CIO Linda Cureton will finally put a social media policy in place at NASA that deals with such flagrant abuses of one's position as a NASA employee.


Keith's note: The following was distirbuted inside NASA by Brett Silcox, Legislative & Industrial Affairs Specialist: "All: In conjunction with AIAA, NASA will host an Exploration Enterprise Workshop on May 25-26, 2010 at the Moody Gardens Hotel and Convention Center in Galveston, Texas. The workshop will bring together a broad community of stakeholders from industry, academia, and the Federal Government to engage in discussions related to strategy building, development, and the implementation of the new plans for human and robotic exploration in space.

The workshop will focus on the President's FY11 budget request for NASA Exploration. The Agency has completed the initial phase of planning for the new technology and robotic programs and will provide insight into progress to date. The objectives of the workshop are to:

- Convey progress in planning toward the new programs
- Discuss NASA Center proposed Program assignments
- Solicit feedback, ideas and suggestions from interested parties
- Prepare for the next steps once the new programs are implemented

I will be sending out additional information as it becomes available.

This event is less than 3 weeks away. NASA expects hundreds of people to show up - but they have not even formally announced it yet. This event ends (in Texas) on 26 May. The next day the ISDC starts in Chicago, Illinois. Charlie Bolden and Lori Garver will be speaking there. Many people already have travel plans made for ISDC so they'll skip this Texas event - or they'll have to decide between one or the other. It baffles me why NASA never stops and thinks before they do things like this.

Keith's update: Registration is now open

Launch could be first test of rocket and Obama space plan, USA Today

"For company founder Elon Musk, it's showtime. "We're super excited to be launching from Cape Canaveral," Musk said. "It's like opening on Broadway." For others, the flight will be a measure of President Obama's plan to kill NASA's moon program, dubbed Project Constellation, and instead invest in developing commercial "space taxis" for astronauts traveling to and from low Earth orbit. The plan has encountered opposition in Congress. The odds of success on the first launch of any new rocket are about 50-50. "I hope people don't use us as a bellwether for commercial space," Musk said."

The Four Flavors of Lunar Water, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"New studies of lunar samples, along with results from several missions in recent years, have given us a revolutionary new picture of water on the Moon. Study of volcanic glass from the Apollo 15 landing site in 2008 demonstrated that tiny amounts of water (about 50 parts per million) are present in the interiors of these glasses, suggesting that the lunar mantle (whence they came) contains about ten times this amount. This was a startling result, considering the extreme dryness of other lunar samples."

Scientists Say Ice Lurks in Asteroid's Cold Heart, NASA

"Scientists using a NASA funded telescope have detected water-ice and carbon-based organic compounds on the surface of an asteroid. The cold hard facts of the discovery of the frosty mixture on one of the asteroid belt's largest occupants, suggests that some asteroids, along with their celestial brethren, comets, were the water carriers for a primordial Earth."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Exploration category from May 2010.

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