Exploration: September 2011 Archives

NASA Posts Global Exploration Roadmap

"NASA is releasing the initial version of a Global Exploration Roadmap (GER) developed by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group. This roadmap is the culmination of work by 12 space agencies, including NASA, during the past year to advance coordinated space exploration. The GER begins with the International Space Station and expands human presence throughout the solar system, leading ultimately to crewed missions to explore the surface of Mars."

Keith's 16 Sep note: This presentation "Towards Deep Space Exploration: Small Steps versus One Giant Leap" (download) was presented by astronaut Andrew Thomas on 6 September 2011. Inside you will find some interesting stuff regarding the use of existing ISS and Shuttle era plus international and commercial capabilities - all matrixed together allowing us to go to new places. It also mentions problems that occur with the public and Congress when things go over budget or seem to not show any real progress or benefit, and how to use smaller steps to incrementally achieve things in space that are relevant, affordable, and show visible progress within everyone's short attention span.

Of course this is all "notional" i.e. ideas that NASA won't connect officially with any actual project or budget anywhere. But that's OK since it shows that people are thinking outside the box, cognizant of limited budgets, and aren't afraid to use old stuff for new purposes. The ideas and approach contained in this document are summarized as follows: "This is not a Program, it is not a Destination; it is a series of activities that aggregate to a deep space capability with US Leadership".

There is one problem I have with this document - and it has to do with one specific graphic (page 28 - larger view). Had the author noted that China's plans for the Moon should not spur us to do things out of fear or paranoia or something like that, I'd agree. But using an image that shows a Taikonaut on the lunar surface, planting the flag of the PRC while trampling an American flag is troubling. Are there really people inside NASA who think like this - enough that they go out of their way to create and use a provocative image like this? Alas, China-hater Rep. Frank Wolf will just love this chart.

P.S. If some graphics do not work or load it is because the original Powerpoint file's format did not exactly work perfectly for me.

Keith's update: Neither Astronaut Andy Thomas, the Astronaut Office, JSC, or NASA PAO have commented on the use of this image. One would therefore have to assume that they are afraid to comment and/or that there is tacit approval of the use of this image in official NASA presentations. None of these assumptions are remotely acceptable. So much for transparency and openness at NASA. I guess its "Lets say nothing and hope this goes away ...".

It will not go away.

"What's Next?" in space exploration - Coalition for Space Exploration announces video contest

"During this historic time of change within the space industry, the Coalition for Space Exploration (Coalition) wants to hear from the American public about what they envision for the future of space exploration. The Coalition is launching a contest based on a simple question, "What's Next?" Participants are encouraged to share their ideas for the future direction of America's space program in a video. The creator of the winning video entry wins an iPad2."

Space agencies set two courses, MSNBC

"NASA spokesman Michael Braukas told me that the roadmap was not yet available for public release, but space officials agreed that an initial version of the document would be issued sometime in the next few weeks. Based on viewgraph presentations prepared in advance of this week's meeting in Kyoto, both paths would eventually get to the moon as well as asteroids. It's more a question of which destination is targeted first."

Keith's note: "Not yet available". More NASA PAO deflection and answer dodging because no one at the agency wants to take a stance - about anything. This is getting to be pathetic. NASA cannot say what it means - or mean what it says anymore. By the way, has anyone heard Charlie Bolden say anything about this topic - or anything else for that matter - for several months - other than a bland statement in Huntsville the other night (which NASA has yet to post online)NASA leadership, wherefore art thou? Sounds like Charlie is in chronic bunker mode to me.

Oddly enough, while NASA is shy about talking about anything remotely bold these days, DARPA (of all places) is enlightened enough to be looking ahead to interstellar travel - and what technology would be required - and how this could have applications on Earth. Sounds like NASA's job - you know, "spinoffs", etc. Of course, NASA Headquarters is trying to stomp this out behind the scenes.

Why is Charlie Bolden so afraid to stand up and speak out? Is the White House telling him to be silent? Does he not care? Or does he simply not 'get it'?

We've already wasted 10% of the 21st century trying to figure out what we are going to do in space.

NASA is in wander mode - absent a "leader".

Speaking as just one taxpayer, I want more - much more - from my nation's space agency - than this diffuse, 'we'll get back to you - maybe', space "policy".

As the Gen Y kids say , "FAIL"



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