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The Space Log
Space for Everyone      -    November 2002

Nov.30.2002 More about Tate in Space

In my entry below about the Tate in Space project, I should have said more about the overall project than just the ETALAB entry.

Susan Collins, director of the Tate in Space program, has informed me that the ETALAB - Extra-Terrestrial Architecture Laboratory is just "one of three architectural practices invited to propose models for a new Tate in Space as part of the Tate in Space project."

"There is also now launched a competition open to everyone to also submit propositions/models for the new Tate in space...[D]etails can be found at http://www.tate.org.uk/space/spacearch.htm#4"

See the Tate in Space website for full details about this serious attempt to involve art and artists in the expansion of humanity into space.


Nov.29.2002 Mars Art Show

The British artist Damien Hirst has provided a combination color calibration and artwork for the Beagle 2 Mars lander:

Space Fable - How The West Wasn't Won (NAFA) at Space Future


Nov.28.2002 Transorbital Buys Launch Ticket

Transorbital, who I'm proud to say has been a long time advertiser at HobbySpace, signed this week a $20 million launch contract with a Russian firm to launch its spacecraft to the Moon in the fall of 2003.

This follows the company's announcement in September that it had obtained the various governmental licenses needed to export its spacecraft to Russian for launch and to put a camera in space.

The spacecraft will carry a digital messages, tokens and other items from the public. (See their catalog for different options.) The spacecraft will also transmit high definition TV of the lunar surface for several months and then crash into the surface at the end of the mission.

Space Activist Progress - Note that Transorbital is a spinoff from the Artemis Project, from which the Moon Society also emerged, that began several years ago as an on line group devoted to developing ideas for the commercialization of lunar development.

Like other space activist projects, Artemis has not been taken seriously by many people and often ridiculed as a talking society. However, as shown earlier by activists' success in helping to get the Lunar Prospector mission (see intro text) off the ground and now by the progress of Transorbital, we see that determined groups of space enthusiasts can, in fact, make things happen in space.

Related info:
Space Activism - Project oriented groups
Investing - Lunar Ventures
Space Tourism - Space Tokens


Nov.27.2002 Space Politics or Participation?

The National Space Society announced the selection of Brian Chase as the new executive director - New NSS Executive Director - SpaceRef - Nov.26.02.

Though his background is in Washington politics, I hope that he makes participatory activities by members, as demonstrated so successfully by the Mars Society, a top priority for the organization and not just to concentrate on influencing legislation and NASA policies. Space Activism

More Space Radio - In addition to webcasts of space news and interviews like the new Planetary Radio mentioned below, you can also find many webcasts of space music. For example, I just got a notice about KNEW Space Rock Cafe at MP3.com. The Music section lists a number of other space music stations.


Nov.26.2002 Planetary Radio Stars

Now you can hear the latest news from our solar system on Planetary Radio, a weekly radio and webcast sponsored by the Planetary Society. Heard live every Monday at 5:30pm PST (2:30pm EST) over the air in southern California at 88.9mhz FM and over the Internet at KUCI. There is also an archive of previous shows.


Nov.25.2002 Space Phones to the Rescue

Despite their heavy use in the 9/11 aftermath, satellite phones are still not a standard component of emergency systems in the US. However, Europe has begun to incorporated them into their systems :Europe Primed for Quick Rescues [using Globalstar phones for emergency communications] - Wired - Nov.25.02

Go to the Moon in Las Vegas - Check out the elaborate website, video and graphics for a proposed $5 billion resort and casino with a space and Moon theme.


Nov.24.2002 Sony Commercializes Space

If you have not seen it on TV, you can watch Sony's clever and well-made commercial involving space tourism on line at Sony - be INSPIRED - What's Next.


Nov.22.2002 Space Music Way Up There

Alan Boyle at MSNBC writes about Tena Clark and her new song commissioned by NASA for the upcoming Centennial of Flight : A New Anthem for Flight [about Tena Clark's Way Up There song] - Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log - Nov.21.02.

It will be recorded by Patti LaBelle but Clark gives a very nice rendition of it herself : Tena Clark singing her song Way Up There - (Windows Media Format) - MSNBC.

More about NASA commissioned music in Space Music section.

Note: I applaud NASA' s commissioning of space art and music despite complaints by some who claim this is just PR for the agency. However, I think space inspired arts developed at the "grass roots" level deserves just as much attention.

For example, I was happy to be contacted a few months ago by a woman working on the Centennial of Flight website who asked me about a song from space enthusiast Elaine Walker and her group ZIA. I recommended she also include the filk classic Witnesses’ Waltz by Leslie Fish. I heard later that she had asked for the rights to post a copy of the version at MP3.com sung by Kristoph Klover. The Sounds of Aviation page has not yet opened so I don't know if these space songs will be included in the final official list but I sure hope they will be.


Nov.21.2002 Space Art in Space

Tate in Space - the famous Tate Gallery in London has sponsored a project by two architects to design a space based art gallery. Space Art Gallery Pushes Boundaries of Imagination - Yahoo - Nov.20.02. Using inflatable structures, the ETALAB - Extra-Terrestrial Architecture Laboratory the form would continuously vary and the windows would "expand and contract like the lens of an eye to present the visual wonder of the universe."

The web site provides an interactive Flash program to illustrate the exotically designed space-art-craft.

Imagine Mars is an educational program sponsored by JPL in which K-12 students develop a simulated settlement on Mars. While technical and scientific issues are certainly studied, the students can also explore aspects of the arts in a Mars community such as painting, music, and architecture.

See more about efforts to put art into space in the section Art in Space


Nov.20.2002 Space News Briefs...

More Mars Music... I discussed earlier the music making of some members of the Mars Society during their stay at the Desert Research Station last season. Astronomy.com now has an article about them and their group - The Extremophiles : Music on Mars: It wasn't all science at a simulated Mars base in Utah last spring. - Astronomy.com - Nov.20.02. -

Both this article and the one mentioned earler at Digizine provide a couple of nice songs in MP3 format, including Mr. Robinson - a tribute to author Kim Stanley Robinson and his famous Mars trilogy.

Stringing Us Along to Orbit... More about efforts to move space elevators from sci-fi to reality : Space Elevator Upstarts Settle Down To Business - Space.com - Nov.20.02

Students Make Mission Patches... A team of students at York University in Toronto created mission patches that Canadian Space Agency astronaut Steve MacLean and the other astronauts will wear on their uniforms during shuttle flight STS-115/12A next May : York U. students deliver patch designs for Space Shuttle mission - York Univ. - Nov.11.02 - patch images .

The Space Art section has more about the art of mission patches.

Geocaching Hams...Geocaching, mentioned here many times, continues to grow in popularity. The GPS guided treasure hunts provide a puzzle to solve and an excuse to get outdoors and have some fun. Now ham radio enthusiasts combine both hobbies: Geocaching: A GPS Receiver is a Radio Too! - ARRLWeb - Nov.12.02


Nov.19.2002 A Regular Rocket Guy

Rocket Guy Brian Walker has received enormous publicity for his plans to ride a homebuilt hydrogen peroxide rocket to an altitude of 30 miles. He said that he plans first to test a scaled down version of the rocket in 2003. After three successful unmanned flights, he will take the rocket for a ride himself.

Assuming that this phase succeeds, he will then proceed to a larger vehicle capable of reaching his target altitude. Walker is a successful toy inventor who is paying for the project out of his own pocket.

(On November 28th Walker will be on late night TV - Brian Walker, Rocket Guy: Guest appearance on Conan O'Brien show - RocketGuy.com - Nov.18.02.)

Discussions about Walker on the various rocketry and space forums usually deride him and his project in an unforgiving, if not vicious, way. He has no prior experience in rocketry and is doing most of the construction himself.

Walker came to the Space Access Society meeting last April and, although I did not meet him, my friends who did said he was actually quite reasonable and very willing to listen to suggestions for his project.

My feeling is that he falls into the great American tradition of daredevil stuntmaking as in, for example, Evel Knievel's famous attempt to cross the Snake River Canyon on a rocket powered "Sky-cycle". Although not nearly as flamboyant and flashy as Knievel, Walker seems to sincerely want to make the flight just to prove he can.

You can follow his progress via the Updates page on his web site.


Nov.19.2002 Space Tracking Optimism

While most segments of commercial space are still suffering through the aftereffects of the Iridium & Globalstar satellite phone constellation bankruptcies and the general telecommunications recession, one area is actually looking up - satellite based vehicle and cargo tracking systems.

Just in the past couple of weeks the Washington Post has reported on two startup companies in the DC area that provide low cost tracking devices based on GPS location finding and satellite

The company SkyBitz received $18 million in funding during a tough period for obtaining venture capital - Investors Put $18 Million Into SkyBitz - Wash Post - Nov.13.02. The company offers a low cost, low power consumption Global Locating System that can be used in shipping containers and other such cargo systems that require low maintenance devices.

The company 10-20.com offers a vehicle tracking system for both commercial and consumer use. 10-20.com Wants to Track Its Customers' Every Move - Wash Post - Nov.18.02

Several other companies are pursuing similar markets (see Satellite Tracking & Messaging). Orbcomm managed to launch its own set of satellites but went into bankruptcy before being taken private. Though typically lumped in with Iridium and Globalstar, Orbcomm actually had high demand for its units but technical problems slowed down installations and unrelated financial problems of its backers led it into severe cash crisis. Now as a private company it seems to have regained its momentum.

Globalstar, in fact, is now in a collaboration with AeroAstro to provide a worldwide tracking system. AeroAstro Successfully Tests the SENS Global Asset Tracking System Over the Globalstar Satellite Constellation - Globalstar PR - July.29.02

Note that neither SkyBitz nor 10-20 indicate on their web sites what LEO constellation they are using. They must be using either Globalstar, Iridium or Skybitz but apparently agreed not to publicize the arrangement.


Nov.16.2002 The Leonid Radio Stars

This years Leonid meteor shower will peak on Tuesday, November 19th. Leonid Meteor Shower Has Begun! - Space.com - Nov.15.02. Even if skys are cloudy you can detect them with your FM radio and even on the TV. See details at Listen to the Leonids - Space.com - Nov.14.02.

Otherwise, you can watch Leonid videos directly on NASA TV : The Leonids TV Show: NASA TV kicks off live coverage of the 2002 Leonid meteor storm on Monday, Nov. 18th. - Science@NASA - Nov.16.02

Nov.16.2002 Force Field Construction Zones

Using a grant from NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts (NAIC), Narayanan Komerath at the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed the concept of using radio waves to assemble space dust into large structures. The approach was inspired by techniques using sound waves to manipulate small particles in a weightless environment.

Using a pulverized asteroid, for example, the technique could build the framework of a large space habitiat. However, details such as the power levels needed have not yet been worked out.


Nov.15.2002 The Economist Supports Space for Everybody

Over the years the influential magazine The Economist has editorialized against human spaceflight and related projects like the ISS as a waste of money. (It's my favorite magazine nonetheless.)

In the current issue, for example, the article 2020 Vision: NASA does some fancy financial footwork to deal with a budget crisis - Economist.com - Nov.14.02 comes down hard on NASA's new long term plan for vehicle development (see the RLV News section for several recent entries about the plans).

Surprisingly, however, an editorial in the same issue (unfortunately in the paid subscription area) actually comes out in favor of human spaceflight, just not in the way NASA has been doing it or justifying it:

"...The only good reason for NASA to be involved in human space-flight is to lay the ground for opening space up for everybody. It takes a vast leap of imagination to detect this reason in NASA's present strategy. Fleeting visits to the moon (or, one day, to Mars) would turn the agency into little more than an elite travel agent. But for decades there has been a huge pent-up demand for flights into space. Although the private sector is finally making some progress towards this, NASA should have been there years ago. What is still needed is research and development on economical and safe space transport for the public at large. Space, like the Wild West, can be truly opened up only by the private sector. NASA's central goal in human space flight should be to make that possible..." - Too farsighted: The dangers of too much vision - Economist - Nov.14.02 (paid subscription required)

I find it refreshing that a mainstream periodical now sees spaceflight as a legitimate goal in itself and not just for scientific missions. Many space advocates have long held the view that NASA's approach actually detracted from the primary goal of "opening space up for everybody" but nevertheless supported NASA for fear that it would lose funding for the necessary work it does in developing space technology.

Perhaps as these nuances of space advocacy become widely known and understood, we will find more people starting to view human spaceflight as more than just a NASA program.

I think the Economist's stand also reflects the aftermath of the flights of Tito and Shuttleworth, which brought legitimacy to the notion of space tourism. Various surveys since then show great enthusiasm among a significant plurality of the public in personal spaceflight and indicate the basis of a real industry.

Perhaps eventually, even NASA will start to see vehicle development in a bigger context than simply as a means to carry out the occasional crew transfer for the ISS.


Nov.26.2002 Russian Space TV Game Show On Course

Apparently the Russian TV gameshow project that plans to send a contest winner to the International Space Station has officially gotten off the ground.Channel One has paid its first $2M installment for the seat on a Soyuz flight next October.

First announced a month ago, see Russia TV Network Announces Space Tourism Contest - Space.com - Oct.9.02, the game show will follow a "Survivor" style format in which contestants will be gradually eliminated during cosmonaut training. Sources report, in fact, that the producer of the Survivor series, Mark Burnett, is involved with the Russian program.

More about the various space tourist game show projects in Space Tourism section.

Note that since Soyuz flights occur every April and October, a seat remains open for the April 2003 flight. While Lance Bass still thinks he has a shot at raising the money to go, several other candidates have a better chance. The late collapse of the recent deal resulted in insufficient time to prepare another paying passenger for the flight, thus depriving the Russian space agency of desperately needed funds. They probably will require full payment far in advance before they will consider Lance again.


Nov.12.2002 Space News Briefs...

Upcoming Spacecasts - A couple of interesting webcasts will occur this week. On Thursday scientists working with the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which began orbiting Mars last October, will report on their latest findings and take questions from students and educators over the web. See the webcast of the presentation on November 14, 2002 at 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. PST (12:00 -1:00pm EST)

You can watch the first launch of Boeing's new Delta IV over the webcast on Saturday starting at 4:45 pm EST. Like the recent Shuttle and Atlas V launches, it will include a camera mounted on the rocket looking backwards:

Space Humor - Top Ten Things Never Before Said In Space - Late Show Top Ten Archive: November 11, 2002


Nov.9.2002 Red Planet Habitat Rocks

The next group of Mars-on-Earth explorers will soon begin their stay in the Mars Desert Research Station to initate the second season, which will last from November 2002 to May 2003. Several teams will each spend a few weeks at the habitat.[Mars Desert Research Station to Resume Operations - Mars Society Bulletin - Nov.11.02]

Check out the fascinating article Digi 001 Goes to Mars! - Digizine - Nov.2002 - (magazine cover) about music making by last years occupants of the desert habitat.

Speaking of music from strange places, Dr. Demento will soon release a collection of humorous space music - Hits from Outer Space - (Amazon commission link).


Nov.8.2002 Viewing Mars

The ExploreMars.org website provides an extensive interactive Flash presentation of a habitat on Mars. The site grew out of the Mars Society's habitat simulation projects.

If you are looking for a good place to land on Mars be sure to try the Mars Exploration Program Landing Sites (MarsoWeb). This NASA tool comes with vast resources of Mars surface imagery and sensor data and is used by the Mars Rover teams to decide where to send their next missions.

If you want to explore Mars virtually, try the amazing visualization tools at Mars3D. Be warned that most of the downloads are large but the views are well worth the effort.

More Mars imagery and VR in the Space Life & Multi-media sections.


Nov.7.2002 Rocketry Briefs...

Wireless Camera for Rocketry - Wireless "look back" video isn't just for big rockets anymore. Check out the RKT25 - Rocket System at WirelessVideoCameras, which makes specializes in video systems for hobbyists. The Wireless Airborne Rocket Video section gives some cool clips from launches of rockets with the system. More Rocketry Videos

Rocketry Screensaver - real rocket nuts will need this Rocket Screensaver from Big Kid Productions.

The Tube Takes Off - RLV News - Armadillo begins flying its largest rocket powered vehicle yet.


Nov.6.2002 Space News Briefs...

Webcast of Night Engine Tests - NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi will webcast a test firing of a Shuttle engine this Friday at 6 p.m. EST. To see the after dark test, log onto www.ssc.nasa.gov beginning at 5:30 p.m. and click on the scrolling link at the top. Space Shuttle Main Engine Night Test Firing at Stennis to be Shown Live on Internet - NASA Stennis PR - Nov.6.02 . Spacecasts

Portrait of a Young Space Station - NASA commissions artist to paint the ISS: Painting a Still Life That Moves at 17,000 M.P.H. - NY Times - Oct.31.02 (free reg required) . Space Art


Nov.5.2002 Aviation News Briefs...

Skycar Demo Flight
Moller Skycar demo flight - Oct.26,2002
(click on image for large version).

By Golly, It Really Flies - check out the impressive Skycar flight photo on Moller's News page. The image shows the vehicle flying clearly out of ground effect and only attached to a data/safety cable, no tether. The long awaited personal flying car is starting to prove its mettle. A second prototype, now under construction, will use new, more powerful engines and allow the vehicle to meet all the design performance goals that include the capability to land safely if one engine fails.

Airframe Parachute Backup in Action - the Skycar includes lots of safety redundancy but if all else fails, the ultimate backup comes with ballistically deployed parachutes. This is not as radical as it might sound. The Cirrus Design general aviation builder offers rocket launched parachutes with its SR20 and SR22 planes.

Airframe parachutes have been controversal among pilots who say that the presence of parachutes could take the pressure off a pilot and this in turn could lead to mistakes that cause an accident. Also, there was a lot of debate about whether the systems would work in a real life situation.

However, for Lionel Morrison there is no debate. He "was the pilot of N1223S, the first certified aircraft in aviation history to use an emergency parachute system to lower both him and his plane to the ground due to an inflight emergency". Read about his first-of-a-kind emergency landing in the article Historic SR22 CAPS Deployment: Part 1 - AeroNews - Oct.8.02 * Part 2.

Electric Plane Update - the first fully electric powered plane could begin flights within months. The E-Plane will initially use lithium-ion batteries to achieve a 100 mile range and later switch to a fuel cell to reach 250 miles. The project uses a lot of donated equipment and the labors of a many students and volunteers. See the October Update for a summary of recent progress.

BTW: One of the test pilots is former astronaut Robert "Hoot" Gibson.

Micro-UAV Breaks Endurance Record - micro-UAV's have become a hot R&D area and could offer unique capabilities for both military (e.g. battlefield surveillance) and civilian (e.g. searching for survivors inside an earthquake damaged building) applications. However, they present a number of challenging practical problems with regard to efficient propulsion and obtaining sufficient power for flights of useful duration.

WASP UAV
Larger image available with the DARPA News Release - Oct.22.02

The Defense research organization DARPA has recently announced that a micro-UAV (see above image) built by Aerovironment and funded by DARPA managed to fly for an hour and 47 minutes. This is "more than three times the previous micro air vehicle endurance record of 30 minutes set two years ago." The breakthrough came by combining the battery and wing into a single structure "that supplies electrical energy for propulsion while carrying mechanical and aerodynamic wing loads."

See the press release Micro air vehicle sets endurance flight record - DARPA PR - Oct.18.02 (pdf 82kb) for more details.


Nov.4.2002 Roving Mars

Mars Student Astronauts - The Planetary Society recently announced the Mars Student Astronaut contest in which winners of an essay contest will participate directly in analysis of data from the Mars Exploration Rovers that will land on Mars in early 2004.

It is "open to young people worldwide. To enter the essay contest, students must be born between September 1, 1986 and September 1, 1990. For complete contest rules and registration information, go to www.redrovergoestomars.org."

Name the Mars Rovers Contest - the Society, in collaboration with Lego and NASA, is also sponsoring a contest www.nametherovers.org (not yet active) to give names to the two rovers:

Send your name to Mars - don't forget to add your name to the DVD disks that will travel to Mars on the rovers. Deadline is November 15th.

Mars on your wall - the Mars Global Surveyor continues to churn out thousands of specatacular and beautiful images of the red planet. You can now purchase high quality photograhic prints of Mars Global Surveyor's Mars Orbiter Camera images at the The Mars Orbital Camera Shop, run by Malin Space Science Systems - the contractor for the camera.


Nov.4.2002 :Beamers Meeting in Huntsville - RLV News

Nov.4.2002 :Hurling RLVs and Conjectures - RLV News

Nov.4.2002 :The Tube to Launch Soon - RLV News

Nov.1.2002 :Another Sub-orbital RLV Project - RLV News

Nov.1.2002 :Radical vs Good Enough in Large Quantities - RLV News


HobbySpace News Articles Index 1999-2002

 

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