Policy: January 2013 Archives

NASA's Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus, Briefing to FISO Telecon Jan. 30, 2013 Marcia Smith, SpacePolicyOnline.com, NRC Committee Member (link fixed)

"- NASA does not and cannot set its own strategic direction.
-- A national consensus is required
-- There is no national consensus at this time
- The administration should lead in developing that consensus, working with Congress, and holding technical consultations with potential international partners
- President Obama's proposal that an asteroid be the next destination for human spaceflight has not won broad support within or outside NASA, undermining the ability to establish a strategic direction.
- There is a mismatch between the programs Congress and the White House have directed NASA to pursue and the resources provided to accomplish them."

Keith's note: NASA's Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group Telecons are held on a regular basis. But NASA doesn't really want to share the information with the public until after the fact (try and find links to this on NASA.gov). To further obscure access, they post presentations on a webserver at the University of Texas at Austin (not NASA.gov). This caveat is posted "Note: This is NOT a public telecon. You may share this link only with qualified participants. Feel free to share publicly our archive site, which is at http://spirit.as.utexas.edu/~fiso/archivelist.htm".

Here is how to listen in (until they change it): Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group Telecon Wednesdays, 3pm EST Dial in: 877 921 5751 Passcode: 623679" Next week's topic is "CST-100 Program Status" Keith Reiley, Boeing". But you are not supposed to know that since most of us are not "qualified participants".

What is especially odd is this statement: "The content of these FISOWG telecon presentations are considered the intellectual property of the person who gave that presentation." Since when are NASA employee presentations not in the public domain when they pertain to the person's official responsibilities? Oh yes, then there is this: "Presentations, papers, visualizations, and graphics produces by the FISOWG and collaborators are archived here -- http://www.futureinspaceoperations.com/". Click on the link. It goes to "Future In-Space Operations Hints on dealing with aging difficulty related to physical attractiveness". Wow. The future of space has to do with physical attractiveness. Who knew?

Oh yes, I almost forgot. All of these FISO presentations are very cool. Too bad NASA has no idea how to make all of this more widely available and accessible.

NASA mulls plan to drag asteroid into moon's orbit, New Scientist

"Researchers with the Keck Institute for Space Studies in California have confirmed that NASA is mulling over their plan to build a robotic spacecraft to grab a small asteroid and place it in high lunar orbit. The mission would cost about $2.6 billion - slightly more than NASA's Curiosity Mars rover - and could be completed by the 2020s. .. Robotically bringing an asteroid to the moon instead would be a more attractive first step, the Keck researchers conclude, because an object orbiting the moon would be in easier reach of robotic probes and maybe even humans."

Keith's note: This study has not been released yet so we don't know what is in it. All we hear is how to go get an asteroid and bring it back to Earth - but not why. If the idea is to study an asteroid close up, I would think that you could send a swarm of satellites, large antennas, etc. based on existing hardware to an asteroid and allow high fidelity telepresence capability for the same/less cost and less complexity than using brute force to bring it to Earth. The only possible rationale for bringing an asteroid back to Earth would be to use the materials in it. I have yet to see any mission statement that charters NASA to mine asteroids. Indeed, the White House doesn't even support the more modest L2 station that Charlie Bolden (sometimes) wants to build using traditional engineering.

The last time I checked, one of the main reasons why the White House tasked NASA to send humans to an asteroid in the first place was to test out long duration deep space human capabilities as a prelude to sending humans to Mars. Bringing their asteroidal destination to Earth sort of defeats that initial intent. Who knows: maybe Charlie Bolden wants to bring Mars closer to Earth to cut down on travel time.

Keith's update: the original report has indeed been released previously. But the specific mission proposal that NASA has sent to the White House has not been released - nor will it be any time soon since this is all "predecisional" stuff.


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