Exploration: November 2010 Archives

Mission would send astronauts to moon's far side, Space.com via MSNBC

"While NASA has officially given up its plans to send humans back to the surface of the moon anytime soon, a contractor is proposing a mission to send a crew to a stationary spot in orbit over the far side of Earth's neighbor. Lockheed Martin has begun pitching an L2-Farside Mission using its Orion spacecraft under development."

Lockheed Martin Sees 2013 Space Capsule Test Flight, WS Journal

"At least some of the incoming Republican panel chairmen and other senior GOP lawmakers, these officials said, may view the proposed test flight as circumventing congressional language to quickly develop a new heavy-lift NASA rocket able to transport astronauts past low-earth orbit. Congress has adopted language strongly favoring space-shuttle derived rockets for this purpose, rather than a version of the Delta IV. The Delta IV is operated by a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing Co."

Keith's note: Bravo Lockheed Martin. A near-term, private sector solution to human space flight, using a commercially available rocket and Orion - much sooner than Ares 1 could have ever done so. Now, sit back and watch as the (otherwise) pro-business Republicans in Congress - especially ATK's congressional delegation - try and stop it.

Replacing Ares V

NASA Selects Companies For Heavy-Lift Launch Vehicle Studies

"NASA has selected 13 companies for negotiations leading to potential contract awards to conduct systems analysis and trade studies for evaluating heavy-lift launch vehicle system concepts, propulsion technologies, and affordability. The awards total approximately $7.5 million with a maximum individual contract award of $625,000. Each company will provide a final report to help lay the groundwork for the transportation system that could launch humans to multiple destinations, including asteroids, Lagrange points, the moon and Mars."

At NASA, a Quiet Quest to Send a Humanoid Robot to the Moon, NY Times

"Project M slipped under the radar of everyone else in NASA, including the administrator, Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr. In February, in response to a question about projects that NASA might undertake with other nations, General Bolden cited a two-legged robot that the Japanese space agency wants to send to the Moon by 2020. "Do I think I can do that?" General Bolden said. "Probably not." At that time, the Project M team was hoping to get a go-ahead to start in March and accomplish the robotic Moon landing by the end of 2012."

Why Aren't We Hearing More About JSC's Project-M?, earlier post
Video: JSC's Project M, earlier post

Keith's Note: Then again, who's to blame Bolden? Mike Coats has openly supported and encouraged activities at JSC that have been in direct contrast to official policy issued to NASA by the President. In addition, Coats does things like this (Project M) and does not tell his boss, Charlie Bolden, what is going on. Coats is supposed to do what his boss tells him to do and so does Bolden. That's how all Federal agencies are supposed to work. In response Bolden's staff is supposed to do what he tells them to do based upon his direction from his boss, the President. Otherwise you have anarchy where everyone is in charge - and no one is in charge. Small wonder the agency is as fractionated as it is right now.

Minimal leadership + lack of workforce discipline = gridlock.

Keith's further comments: Sure this would be cool - and the potential uses for humanoid form factor robots has great potential. But Bolden has a point: can NASA really field a bipedal robot - on the Moon? Can they do so on Earth? With regard to the current state of the art of robot design, are there any bipedal robots - anywhere - that can operate autonomously or teleroboticaly that can traverse the terrain one would expect on the Moon (in 0.18G)? Can they do so and also perform meaningful tasks - task that could not be performed better (and more cheaply) by a robot with another form factor - perhaps a rover with arms? Can this JSC bipedal robot pick itself up after a fall? To be certain, the Soviets demonstrated that you can drive things around the Moon by remote control in the 1970s. But to have a bipedal robot walk around - regardless of how it is controlled - is an order of magnitude beyond that. Indeed, JSC has yet to demonstrate that anyone, anywhere, can do this. And yet they claim that they can do this from zero to flight in 2 years has yet to be demonstrated - to anyone.


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

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