The Space Gazette
Space for Everyone -
August 2, 2002 -
Vol. 2 No.15
The Spacefaring Web 2.11:
Writing in the Infrared
John Carter McKnight
Ideas and technologies that were recently
only the wildest speculation now are hotly, even violently,
debated worldwide. But not the prospect of a spacefaring
future. While many address opportunities in space, their
work seems to fall into a cultural blind spot, present
but unseen. It's as if they were writing in the infrared:
something is there, discernable by anyone sufficiently
attuned. The world at large, though, literally cannot
see the writing on the wall.
John Carter McKnight
Edgar Rice Burroughs, best
known as the creator of Tarzan, wrote ten novels set
on a fictional Mars known to its inhabitants as Barsoom.
Published between 1912 and 1948, these popular stories
provided seminal inspiration for generations of youngsters
who would grow into scientists and science fiction writers,
including the likes of Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke
and Carl Sagan. Writing in 1971, Bradbury (Mars and
the Mind of Man, p.17) went so far as to say that "I
also admit the terrible fact that Edgar Rice Burroughs
was in some ways my father.. thousands of wild-eyed
boys have fallen in love with [him] and had their lives
changed forever. He has probably changed more destinies
than any other writer in American history." Yet within
a few years of Bradbury's writing, Barsoom had virtually
disappeared from bookstore shelves and the popular imagination.
Burroughs' decline holds important lessons for the marketing
of Mars, as entertainment, educational subject, governmental
program or private initiative.
In Space Services, Reusable
to ISS, satellite repair, etc ...
Factsheet for SMV
The US Air Force's Space Maneuver Vehicle
satellite runs out of the fuel needed to maintain its orbit
and attitude, no gas truck is available nearby for a fill-up.
Proposals for dedicated unmanned
vehicles to service satellites and space stations have long
been around but are only now obtaining real funding.
The Air Force, for example, is
keen on launching a Space
Maneuver Vehicle that could provide a range of services
including refueling of spy satellites, fast reconnaissance
in an emergency (e.g. to look at ground targets for which
no spysat will soon have an opportunity to observe), and surveillance
and investigation of unknown space objects.
project, along with the sub-scale X-40
test vehicle, is intended to develop the technology for such
an SMV. The SMV could be launched on top of an expendable
rocket or in a shuttle bay and after spending up to a year
in orbit, would return to earth for refurbishment and reuse.
The DARPA Orbital
Express Space Operations Architecture (ASTRO) program
is developing a non-reusable spacecraft that will demonstrate
"on orbit refueling and reconfiguration of satellites".
Reconfiguring refers to replacing modules and other hardware
on the target satellite. This would require a manipulator
arm with considerable dexterity.
Cargo Vans to the ISS
The International Space Station
currently relies on the Space Shuttle and Russian Progress
module flights for fresh supplies. Only the shuttle can take
cargo, such as materials generated by microgravity experiments,
back to earth.
NASA would like to have a backup to these
vehicles and has begun the "Alternate Access" program
to encourage private firms to develop new spacecraft to carry
out these service missions.
announced that it would spread $10.8 million among four companies
for Alternate Access studies:
awards contracts to investigate commercial services to supply
International Space Station - NASA PR - July.12.02
The two largest aerospace companes, Boeing
and Lockheed Martin were included, not surprisingly, but the
other two winners were the small startup companies Andrews
Space & Technology, and Constellation
includes several space activists including Charles E. Miller,
founder of ProSpace
and David W. Anderman, a director of Space
Frontier Foundation. Walt
Anderson is also an advisor.
CSI will obtain $2.3
million grant to develop further the design of
its LEO Express(SM) Space Cargo System that could be launched
on an expendable or a reusable like Kistler
Andews is teaming with Alenia Spazio, Spacehab,
Northrop-Grumman to "evaluate innovative technologies
including recoverable, reusable and expendable systems as
well as ballistic and winged re-entry designs."
The Incentives Approach
The Alternate Access program is a move towards
the incentive approach to development of new spacecraft and
launch vehicle that space activists have been pushing NASA
to follow. Instead of dictating to contractors exactly how
vehicles should be built, NASA will just state what final
goal it has and the contractors can decide for themselves
how best to fulfill that goal.
In the Space
Investing section, the In
Space Services category lists some companies aiming
to develop on orbit servicing as well as assembly of spacecraft.
Happenings in MusicSpace
There have been some interesting
news items in the world of space music recently:
The rock musician Moby
recently got a tour of the Johnson Space Center and was quite
impressed. See his online
log (select the item about the Houston Visit on July 17,
2002) for his impressions and the article Pop
star Moby goes to space camp - CNN.com - July.29.02
His most recent album includes
Are All Made Of Stars (3 related video webcasts available
at the Moby
website), which he performed on the Saturday Nigh Live
This July an
Ten and Counting cassette tape was sold on
eBay for $162.50. The tape was the first anthology of space
filk when it was released in 1983. Various copyright
conflicts have prevented it from being re-released in CD.
Terry Riley's new Sun
Rings composition will premier this fall in
a concert by the Kronos Quartet. The NASA commissioned work
incorporates audio clips of radio transmissions from the Voyager
spacecraft. Articles about the piece have begun to appear:
The Moon is making a comeback on
Earth. Humans last set foot on our nearest celestial neighbor
in 1972. Now there are increasing calls to return, starting with
The National Research Council included
a mission to the south pole of the Moon on its latest list
of priorities recommended to NASA: New
Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy
- NRC - July.02.
The report states that "Exploring
a large impact basin located near the lunar South Pole will provide
insight into the early history of the Earth-Moon system".
Robotic Return Mission to the Moon - Space.com - Aug.1.02
Also, the indications of water
ice detected by the Lunar
Prospector could be investigated directly.
At the recent Return to the Moon
Symposium, sponsored by the Space Frontier Foundation, scientists,
engineers, and space enthusiasts gather to discuss a wide range
of possible lunar missions.
Astronomy observatories on the far
side, solar arrays to gather power to beam to earth, electrolysis
of ice to provide LOX/LH for rockets, lunar cemetaries, and knowledge
databanks safeguarded in lunar repositories were some of the projects
Private companies are also planning missions to
the Moon. Transorbital
will send within a year or so an orbiter that will broadcast high
definition TV imagery of the surface. The spacecraft will also
carry a time capsule with messages and mementos from paying customers.
is making slow progress in gathering sponsors to pay for its lunar
rover and Applied Space Resources
is working on its commercial sample return mission.