Exploration: January 2017 Archives

Scott Parazynski: Still on Cloud 10 on the summit of Mt. Everest, SpaceRef

"I tied off a pair of flags I'd made to honor astronauts and cosmonauts who had perished in the line of duty (Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia, Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 11), as I could think of no finer place on Earth to hang them. In the coming days, weeks, months and years, like their Tibetan prayer flag counterparts, they will weather under the wind, sun and snow, and slowly lift back up into the heavens."

Arctic Memorials and Starship Yearnings, SpaceRef

"Given the sheer mass of the structure, and the slow manner with which things change here, this inukshuk may well be standing 500 years from now. That should be long enough. Maybe someone serving on a starship will think to visit it."

Ancient Memorials for Modern Space Explorers, SpaceRef

"A week prior to my departure I got a call from June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger's commander Dick Scobee. She was thrilled with what we were doing and asked if we'd like to place a few mementos in the inukshuk. She then described what she was sending. A day or so later a package arrived. As I opened it I told my wife, with a bit of a tear in my eye, "this is history". I had been sent one of the few items Dick Scobee had left in his briefcase when he took off for his last mission: a business card and a mission lapel pin. I am certain that his family has so little in the way of such items. As such I was really honored that the family had chosen this inukshuk we planned to build on Devon Island, as the place where such precious items would rest."

NASA OIG: Audit of the Mars 2020 Rover Project

"The largest risk to the Mars 2020 schedule is the Project's Sample and Caching Subsystem (Sampling System), which will collect core samples of Martian rocks and soil and place them on the planet's surface for retrieval by a future robotic or human mission. At Preliminary Design Review (PDR), three of the Sampling System's critical technologies were below technology readiness level (TRL) 6, meaning the prototype had not yet demonstrated the capability to perform all the functions required. Projects are evaluated during PDR to ensure they meet all system requirements with acceptable risk and within cost and schedule constraints. The immaturity of the critical technologies related to the Sampling System is concerning because, according to Mars 2020 Project managers, the Sampling System is the rover's most complex new development component with delays likely to eat into the Project's schedule reserve and, in the worst case scenario, could delay launch. As of December 2016, the Project was tracking the risk that the Sampling System may not be ready for integration and testing - the period when a spacecraft is built, undergoes final testing, and is prepared for launch - in May 2019, as planned."

NASA's Uncertain Direction

Make NASA Great Again: A Memo to the New Administration, Futurism

"So [George] Abbey thinks the architecture of NASA's future plans should be thoroughly examined and redrawn. It won't even require a budgetary increase - just a smarter allocation of the currently available funding. For instance, he suggests scrapping the SLS program altogether. There's too much redundancy in the heavy-lift rocket market - SpaceX is working on their Falcon Heavy, Blue Origin is busy developing the New Glenn booster, and United Launch Alliance is drawing up plans for a Vulcan rocket. He also thinks a simple scaling-up of Boeing's already-proven and successful X-37 would create a serviceable replacement for the decommissioned shuttle fleet - a spaceplane that could be fitted for crewed flights and that also has the ability to transport matériel into space for orbital, in situ assembly."

NASA under Trump is still waiting for marching (and launching) orders, Washington Post

"The Trump administration's "beachhead team" for NASA showed up Monday. So far, according to Lightfoot, everyone's just getting desks and phones and computers assigned. There has been no command from on high to change policies about communications - nor any attempt to take down the agency's extensive online discussions of human-influenced climate change or other scientific issues."

Funds for exploration of Moon, Mars should be raised abroad, Roscosmos

"To fund preparations for the exploration of the Moon and Mars an international cooperation campaign will have to be launched and private investors invited to participate to raise the money required, the chief of Russia's state-run corporation Roscosmos, Igor Komarov, has said. It emerged in the spring of 2016 that the Russian Rocket and Space Corporation Energiya and the US Boeing were developing a joint project of a lunar orbital station in two versions: either two small living modules or one big module. An SLS super-heavy carrier rocket being developed by NASA is expected to be used to deliver the station's elements and the crew to the Moon's orbit. In case of a multi-modular project, they are intended to be launched together with a US spacecraft Orion, which is also being developed by NASA."

Understanding NASA's Global Reach, SpaceRef

"A young boy in Chile wearing a NASA t-shirt explains a computer game to Pete Worden from Breakthrough Initiatives. How did he get that t-shirt? Why is he wearing it? Worden sent me this picture today. He is currently in Chile to announce that Breakthrough Initiatives has teamed with the European Southern Observatory to use the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to observe Alpha Centauri. Alpha Centauri is the destination of Breakthrough Starshot Initiative. Enhancements will be made to the VLT to allow it to detect small, potentially habitable planets in the Alpha Centauri system and possibly other star systems. So why is a boy wearing a NASA t-shirt in the Atacama region of Chile? Worden did not know. I have a theory."

Keith's note: A chaotic year ends another, possibly more chaotic year begins. Suspend reality for a moment and watch this video, then think of how to push through today's chaos toward that exciting future of exploration - one that is seemingly under constant delay - today.



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This page is an archive of entries in the Exploration category from January 2017.

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