Exploration: June 2016 Archives

Today is Asteroid Day

"Asteroid Day is a growing global movement, supported by international organizations, experts in planetary science, astronauts and citizens around the world to increase awareness, education and support of programs for greater detection, knowledge of the composition, mapping and deflection of dangerous asteroids. ASTEROID DAY is held each year on JUNE 30, the anniversary of the largest asteroid impact of Earth in recent history, 1908 Tunguska event in Siberia, which devastated 2000 square km/800 square miles in Siberia. ASTEROID DAY was co-founded in 2014 by Astrophysicist and QUEEN lead musician Dr. Brian May and Filmmaker Grig Richters, Apollo 9 Astronaut Rusty Schweickart and Silicon Valley operative Danica Remy."

More info: http://asteroidday.org

Slooh: Celebrate World Asteroid Day with Live Show, Expert Guests

"On Thursday, June 30, at 4:00 pm PDT | 7:00 pm EDT | 23:00 UTC (International Times: http://bit.ly/28YW91a), Slooh is celebrating World Asteroid Day with four hours of live programming and an amazing roster of guests."

Keith's note: I'll be appearing on SLOOH's Asteroid Day broadcast to talk about the NASA politics behing asteroid detection and collection missions - and how they do/do not relate to human missions to Mars.

Brexit From ESA?

Brexit Does Not Mean the UK Will Leave the European Space Agency, Right?, Inverse

"The resources and partnerships that UK-based companies rely on are now hanging in the balance as the vote moves forward. However, a UK exit from the EU should not affect the country's involvement with ESA. The ESA and EU are two separate entities with different goals and member states."

'Brexit' leaves lingering questions about involvement in European Space Agency, WRAL

"In a May CNN interview from the ISS, Peake commented on how leaving the EU might impact the UK: "The UK will still be part of the European Space Agency, that won't change at all. The European Space Agency is still part of this international partnership here with the International Space Station." Peake added "it really cuts through all barriers, its such a strong partnership."

RAS Statement on the Outcome of the EU Referendum in the UK, RAS

"UK and European science benefit from the free movement of people between countries, something that has allowed UK research to become world leading. Although for example membership of the European Space Agency and European Southern Observatory is not contingent on EU membership, these organizations depend on international recruitment made easier by straightforward migration between countries. We therefore urge the Government to ensure it remains straightforward for UK scientists to travel and work in EU countries, and for EU scientists to come to the UK."

Keith's note: While NASA pours money into its goofy R5 robot that cannot walk unless it is on a hoist, controlled by a human, and is always broken, Boston Dynamics continues to make astonishing progress on autonomous robots. Imagine if you had something like this on Mars as part of a sample return mission. It would allow access to places that rovers cannot go and has dexterity unmatched by anything NASA has built. Wouldn't it be cool if that first SpaceX Red Dragon opened up and one of these droids walked out?

Rescuers succeed in evacuating sick workers at the South Pole, Washington Post

"For the third time ever, rescue workers have successfully evacuated someone from the South Pole during the brutal Antarctic winter, the National Science Foundation said. A plane carrying two sick workers from the Amundsen-Scott research station arrived on the Antarctic Coast early Wednesday afternoon, following a harrowing 10-hour flight across the continent. Both workers require medical attention not available at the station, prompting the rare rescue effort. ... Typically, none of the 50 or so people who overwinter at Amundsen-Scott can leave between February and October. One former worker described the South Pole as more inaccessible than the International Space Station."

Ailing Antarctic personnel transported to safety, nsf

"NSF determined that an evacuation was warranted and called on Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air Ltd., which has a U.S. government contract to fly in support of U.S. Antarctic Program science, to conduct this mission."

Keith's note: I have flown in Kenn Borek Twin Otter planes multiple times in the arctic. More than once my pilot was an antarctic veteran - in once case, a mid-winter medical rescue pilot. These folks really, really know their stuff.

Human flights to Mars still at least 15 years off: ESA head, Reuters

"Dreaming of a trip to Mars? You'll have to wait at least 15 years for the technology to be developed, the head of the European Space Agency (ESA) said, putting doubt on claims that the journey could happen sooner. "If there was enough money then we could possibly do it earlier but there is not as much now as the Apollo program had," ESA Director-General Jan Woerner said, referring to the U.S. project which landed the first people on the moon. Woerner says a permanent human settlement on the moon, where 3D printers could be used to turn moon rock into essential items needed for the two-year trip to Mars, would be a major step toward the red planet. U.S. space agency NASA hopes to send astronauts to Mars in the mid-2030s and businessman Elon Musk, head of electric car maker Tesla Motors, says he plans to put unmanned spacecraft on Mars from as early as 2018 and have humans there by 2030. The ESA's Woerner said it would take longer."

- Moon and/or Mars: Challenging Human Exploration Orthodoxy, Earlier Post
- #JourneyToMars Via #ReturnToTheMoon, Earlier Post

Coalition for Deep Space Exploration Issues Policy Paper to Guide Incoming President and Congress

"The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration has released a policy position paper highlighting the key issues that every presidential and congressional candidate should understand in order to ensure that deep space exploration remains a bipartisan priority over the next several years. The Coalition is the voice of America's deep space industry, with over 40 corporate members supporting NASA's deep space human exploration and science programs. The full paper, entitled "A Space Exploration Roadmap for the Next Administration," is available for download on the Coalition's website."

Keith's note: This document is mostly recycled word salad that states the obvious without ever getting to the point - other than to request continued support SLS and Orion. This is yet another attempt by this organization (actually there is no "organization", its just Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Orbital ATK and Aerojet Rocketdyne with other smaller companies tossed in who write checks) to preserve the status quo. Everything else is just window dressing adjusted to meet the needs of these two programs. Note that there is no support for NASA's "Journey To Mars" or ARM so they're already throwing the Obama folks under the bus. As for space commerce, the Coalition makes little mention of it other than to describe it as something that happens in low Earth orbit - so long as it does not get in the way of SLS and Orion, that is.

We've seen this movie before. Just three months ago a similar effort by many of the usual suspects produced a similar document with the same intent:

Space Policy White Paper = Shopping List For The Journey to Nowhere, March 2016

"Such is the problem with these sort of documents from the space community. On one hand the space groups want to have a say in the political decisions that affect their members (and donors). But on the other hand they'd rather not have the politicians pay too much attention to space such that the current status quo is not upset. In other words "write us the checks but don't rock the boat" - or more bluntly "look but don't touch". This is, at best, naive thinking on the part of the space community. If you read the white paper it becomes immediately apparent that this coalition wants everything that they are doing to be supported and in some cases, they want even more money. They also want a stable funding environment (makes sense). The two main programs being supported by this coalition are SLS/Orion and Commercial Crew and Cargo with gratuitous mention of other projects that are important to the members of this coalition."

- Pioneering Space National Summit One Year Later: No Clear Direction
- Fact Checking SLS Propaganda
- How The #JourneyToMars Becomes The #JourneyToNowhere

Do we really need humans to explore Mars?, Ars Technica

"There's been a myth that there's some things you can do with robots and some only with people," Grunsfeld replied. "All exploration is human research. Even when we use robotic spacecraft, it's still human research. The question is how close are the people to the action? And it's also about the pace of discovery. When you have people on the scene, especially putting planetary scientists, geologists, astrobiologists on Mars, it's really going to accelerate the pace at which we can make discoveries." ... After lunch [Chris] Kraft and I drove back to his home, which overlooks a golf course a stone's throw from Johnson Space Center. As we shook hands in his driveway, he reiterated his closing argument to me: "Oh yes, I've heard the argument that we've been there before. I know that more than most. But we have unfinished business on the moon."

- #JourneyToMars Via #ReturnToTheMoon, Earlier Post

If We Want to Send Astronauts to Mars, We Must Go Back to the Moon First, Scientific American

"Bush's idea was inspiring enough that, in addition to NASA, no fewer than 13 international space agencies signed on to participate in developing a plan for reaching the moon. Unfortunately, the plan's implementation was badly flawed. NASA tried to relive the glory days of Apollo by focusing on one-use vehicles that would transport everything to the moon from Earth. Apollo was a fantastic achievement, but it was not sustainable, which was in part why the program was canceled in the early 1970s. Bush's vision proved too expensive to sustain as well, and in 2010 President Barack Obama declared that the U.S. had no need to go back to the moon, saying, in essence, that we've been there, done that. Instead, he said, we would go to Mars without taking that interim step. But a return to the moon is crucial to the future of human space explorationand - not just for the experience it would give us in off-world living."

Elon Musk provides new details on his 'mind blowing' mission to Mars, Washington Post

"Essentially what we're saying is we're establishing a cargo route to Mars," he said. "It's a regular cargo route. You can count on it. It's going happen every 26 months. Like a train leaving the station. And if scientists around the world know that they can count on that, and it's going to be inexpensive, relatively speaking compared to anything in the past, then they will plan accordingly and come up with a lot of great experiments."

SpaceX's Elon Musk teases 'dangerous' plan to colonize Mars starting in 2024, Geekwire

"Musk said 2022 would mark the first use of the Mars Colonial Transporter, a spaceship that's big enough to carry scores of people to Mars. The first MCT would be uncrewed. However, it's plausible to think that the craft could be pre-positioned at Mars to support the crewed mission to come, and the return trip to Earth. That's the part of the plan that's still fuzzy."

- The Real Cost of a Red Dragon Mission to Mars, earlier Post
- SpaceX Will Go To Mars Starting in 2018, earlier Post



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This page is an archive of entries in the Exploration category from June 2016.

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