Memoribilia Auction... Announcement from Swann Galleries:
On April 12,
2003, there will be a major auction in New York City of Space
Exploration of over 400 lots of memorabilia, documents, flown
items and much much more pertaining to the exploration of space.
From an over-glove worn by Gene Cernan on the surface of the moon
(Apollo XVII), with a substantial coating of lunar dust, to a
Playboy centerfold flown to the moon on the same mission, “the
material being offered in this catalogue includes flown and/or
signed items reflecting most of the major events of the golden
age of space exploration, primarily artifacts of the Mercury,
Gemini, and Apollo programs, but also including some Russian material”
All of the
material will be on display from Saturday, April 5, at Swann Auction
Galleries in New York City.
You can view
the entire catalogue at www.swanngalleries.com or you can contact
Cristina Capello for a press release at (212) 254-4710 x 23. www.swanngalleries.com.
amateur rocket motor test ...
Darren Wright of Ozark
Aerospace has informed me about the successful test of a 80,000Ns
P motor jointly developed with Jeff Taylor of Loki
Research. for the JAMSTAR
project at the Florida
Insitute of Technology.
motor weighed 140lbs and had 82 lbs of propellant, and was 6"
x 8ft long. We got a 8.5 sec burn with a max thrust of 3300lbs.
I believe this is the largest amateur motor ever successfully
fired East of the Mississippi. The rocket is slated to launch
April 19th in southern Florida, and should hit 100,000ft.(35km]"
[Modified from 140k ft Mar.31.03]
See the P-Motor
Mayhem page for photos and videos of the test.
(Joint Aerospace & Meteorlogical Stratosphere Analysis Rocket)
project aims to develop sounding rockets to launch meteorlogical
instrument packages (so-called dropsondes that descend on parachutes)
up to 30 miles (~50km). These will provide useful scientific data
and also train students and develop the capabilities of the FIT
See the Mission
page for details about JAMSTAR and the rocket, which includes the
first stage booster and an unpowered dart type second stage that
carries the payload.
site posted this announcement - Enzi
launches model rocket protection bill - RocketForge - Mar.27.03
- from Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo). He has now introduced bill S.
724 that "would exempt users of certain model rocket propellants
from explosive permit requirements.."
Iridium moment in space...
Check out this wonderful
photo of an Iridium
Flare taken by Don Pettit on the Space Station. Note
that he knew when to look for the flares due to the assistance of
amateur astronomers Rob Matson and Robert Reeves.
zoom in ... The TerraFly
site at Florida International University
provides a "zoom in" service on a given location, via
address entry, using satellite and aerial photography.
A popup applet
provides various options including a map overlay with labels on
major highways and other landmarks.
site provides a similar zoom-in service. More remote imaging info
and links in the Eyes
in the Sky section.
Streakers... Evidence is increasing that not only does
the Mars surface contain enormous amounts of ice but in some areas
it occasionally melts and shows up as dark streaks. While pure liquid
water would quickly evaporate in the very low atmospheric pressure
on Mars, this article Mars
Water, Odd Surface Features Tied to Life By Leonard David - Space.com
- Mar.28.03 discusses how briny slush may arise from geothermal
The dark coloring
could indicate microbial activity. See
Mars Pictures in the Multimedia
section for links to sites with collections of images from the two
Orbiters that indicate all sorts of temporal changes
on the surface.
In the latest
issue of Aviation Week, Arthur C. Clarke states his firm belief
that some of these pictures indicate signs of life.
Water section for links to related articles.
satellite imagery .... I'll maintain a list
of links to sites and articles about satellite imagery
of Iraq, some in "near" real-time .
water on the Moon... Analysis of the size of crater areas
in permanent darkness is larger than previously thought. Such areas
allow for water deposits (from cometary debris) . Five
times more water on Moon? Doubling of cold, dark lunar craters raises
human colonisation hopes. 26 March 2003 (Saw this in a posting
by Dennis Wingo.)
Rocketeers under watch... An American
reports that some rocketry dealers have been approached by government
authorities asking for names of people buying "rockets, rocket
motors and R/C airplanes." Homeland
Security Wants Names and Addresses For Rocketeers and R/C Airplane
Owners - ARSA - Mar.25.03 (Thanks to Andrew Case for this info.)
million man and woman march to space
- The Space Review - Mar.25.03
- I wrote this essay about the need to create a community of space
enthusiasts large enough to sustain space ventures independently
of the interest in space by the general public.
Space Roadmap: Mine the Sky, Defend the Earth, Settle the Universe by
Lee Valentine - I've posted this interesting article sent to me
by Dr. Valentine, who is a director of the Space
Studies Institute. This article derives from a briefing he gave
last Spring to the to the Aerospace
Technology Working Group (ATWG) at the Space Infrastructure
Development: Near Earth meeting in Arizona.
In the article
he sets out a roadmap for space development and settlement based
on a number of economic and social drivers. These include space
tourism, space based solar power, asteroid mining for high value
metals such as platinum, and defense against near earth asteroids.
reconnaissance... Now you too can get satellite views
of the Iraqi conflict - Satellite
Photos of Iraq for Sale - Space.com - Mar.24.03 * NOAA
Satellites Capture Burning Oil Fields in Iraq - NOAA - Mar.21.03
on the Space Settlement Summit... John
Carter McKnight provides more information on the background of the
Space Settlement Summit mentioned below
and what happened during the meeting - The
Space Settlement Summit - Spacefaring Web/SpaceDaily - Mar.20.03
radiation levels livable... Results from the The
Martian Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE) system on the
orbiter indicate that radiation levels are, as expected, higher
than in Mars orbit than in earth orbit, but are well within limits
acceptable for explorers and settlers.
AP report reflexively took the words radiation and higher to mean
deadly but as Robert Zubrin points out - AP
Falsely Reports Mars Radiation Data - The Mars Society - Mar.14.03
- the levels barely increase the chance of cancer over the course
of a lifetime.
Odyssey Shows Extreme, But Managable Radiation Risk for Astronauts
- Space.com - Mar.13.03
Note that the
exposure estimates also assume that shielding is not significantly
improved over that currently used in spacecraft like the ISS. Obviously,
those living on Mars (or on the Moon) could use underground dwellings
or heavy construction materials for surface habitats to reduce exposures
This will also
work for high energy cosmic rays (CR). The statement in this article
Dangers for Mars Astronauts Downgraded - Sky and Telescope - Mar.19.03
- tha there is "no practical way to shield astronauts from
cosmic rays" is wrong. While current propulsion systems allow
only for minimal shielding during transit, once the astronauts reach
the surface they can use underground facilities or "earthen"
techniques for effective shielding against CR.
There is nothing
magical about the earth's atmosphere for filtering cosmic rays (or
the magnetosphere for shielding out the lower energy solar wind).
It's a question of practicality with regard to how much bulk matter
you can use to obtain equivalent shielding. The huge O'Neill
habitats, for example, were always designed with an outer
layer of lunar rock delivered by mass
drivers on the Moon. This shielding would allow for earth type
radiation levels for those living inside the rotating habitats.
and layering arrangements provide different levels of shielding.
A priority for current space research should be to find the least
massive combination of materials and layered structures that provide
the highest degree of shielding. For example, when a CR collides
with an atom it will produce a shower of secondary particles. These
will be of lower energy but if there is not enough material to "soak
them up", then this effect can actually raise an astronaut's
It's quite conceivable
that a Mars transit vehicle could be designed with an inner sanctum
area, surrounded by water tanks, layers of shielding materials,
and the vehicle's structural mass, that would provide significant
protection against both solar protons and cosmic rays.
even with current systems, the risks are manageable for those who
choose to go to space. Remember, on earth we live our whole lives
in a continual spray of natural background radiation. Future archeologists
can date our bones from the radioactive carbon that we store in
them. If you live at higher elevations or in areas with higher radioactivity
in the ground, you get substantially more than the average rate.
Going to space is a question of increasing your degree of exposure,
not of whether you are exposed or not.
Space Settlement Manifesto
announcement was released tonight:
of Space Groups and Leaders Unite in Call for Space Settlement
as Core of Human Space flight Agenda
In the wake
of the Columbia tragedy America has been engaged in a discussion
as to the need for such activities and the real goals of our space
program. To answer these questions, a group of space leaders,
opinion makers, entrepreneurs and financiers met in Los Angeles
this month to seek common agreement on guiding principles for
the U.S. human space flight effort and begin coordinating strategies
to provide a direction for a currently rudderless U.S. space program.
The result was the formation of a strong consensus that the nation’s
human space agenda needs a unifying central goal, that the current
climate is hindering the opening of space, and that top level
space policies must be changed if we are to ever open space to
To address these concerns, the group developed an over-arching
declaration of purpose for the US human space flight agenda, developed
the first of a set of principles they will work to incorporate
into national space policy, and began planning for a set of follow
on meetings and actions, designed to expand their circle and develop
The historic private meeting, held at the Riviera Country Club
in Los Angeles, was quickly organized in the few weeks following
the shuttle disaster. Its central purpose was to bring together
several citizen space organizations that had often been at odds
in the past. Those attending included members and leaders of the
Mars Society, the National Space Society, the X-Prize Foundation,
The Space Access Society, the Space Frontier Foundation, the Space
Studies Institute, the Mars Institute, Space Tourism Society,
Space Generation Council, Yuri’s Night, California Space Authority
and others. Each group and the individuals attending agreed to
drop personal or organizational agendas such as planetary destinations,
or technological fixes and work together to create a space exploration
and settlement agenda for the nation that could be carried to
the White House and Congress.
The event was Chaired by Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, citizen
space explorer Dennis Tito and Rick Tumlinson of the Space Frontier
Foundation, with Dr. John Lewis of the University of Arizona as
Moderator. Notable participants included shuttle astronaut Rick
Searfoss, authors Gregory Benford, and Jerry Pournelle and the
CEOs and founders of several entrepreneurial space firms. In addition,
the event drew an unprecedented and historic gathering of the
top financiers of "alternative" space efforts, who between them
have and are currently funding hundreds of millions of dollars
of work in this area, including the private construction of new
rockets and space hotels.
Based on the enthusiastic response of all those attending, and
the new spirit of co-operation it has created, the coalition is
looking to repeat and expand this initiative to include more organizations,
policymakers, the broader space industry and media. The next meeting
will occur in the next months in Washington D.C.
A First Step
The Summit was the first step of a drive to change our civil space
policy, and create a legacy that is worthy of the lives of those
who have sacrificed so much to open the frontier of space. Making
our space agenda reflect our free enterprise system and pioneering
heritage, and reflecting the partnership between the government
and private sectors that has produced such great rewards for our
citizens is the coalition’s core goal. The coalition believes
this will not only change the decisions to be made in such areas
as the space station, new destinations for human exploration and
how that exploration is conducted, and space transportation policy,
but by accelerating the opening of space, will also transform
our nation and the world in years to come.
The following is the first (top level) statement produced by the
coalition. More specific recommendations will flow during the
WHY SPACE SETTLEMENT
The human settlement of space is a noble cause that deserves the
attention and support of people throughout the world for the following
- To enhance prosperity for all people and make use of the abundant
resources of outer space;
- To fulfill the drive for discovery and exploration, which is
an innate human quality at the core of progress and thriving civilizations;
- To ensure the survival of human civilization and the biosphere,
and protect them from natural and man-made disasters.
Expanding boundaries to this new frontier is a pursuit of freedom,
a fundamental element of progress essential to the fulfillment
of human potential.
the question... We go to space to stay there. In the
severe retrenchment in space exploration after the Apollo program
cancellation, a shell-shocked NASA grasped for science research
as a justification for its manned space program. However, the scientific
return has been modest compared to the enormous costs of the shuttle
and ISS programs.
people are coming to see that creating permanent settlements in
space must become the main goal of our space programs. John Carter
McKnight develops this proposition in the following essays:
elevator's rising visibility... Brad Edwards and the
Systems continue to gather attention for their proposed Space
Elevator. The April issue of Wired Magazine includes
this article - Starlight
Express - Wired - Apr.03 issue.
there will be an open briefing on the concept on Capitol Hill from
Dr. Edwards (10:00 am in room 2325 of the Rayburn House Office Building)
sponsored by the National Space Society.
One of the co-founders
of HighLift announced a spinoff company called LiftPort
Inc that will focus on hardware development rather than research
Elevator Company Co-Founder Forms New Venture: LiftPort Dedicated
to Development of Commercial 'Railroad' To Space - LiftPort PR -
rocketcam videos... The recent launch of the Delta IV
included four rocketcams on the vehicle to provide video all the
way to the final separation of the payload from the second stage.
IV Launch Success Ushers in Record Year for Ecliptic's RocketCam-
Ecliptic Enterprises - Mar.12.03
See the videos
Gallery at Ecliptic Enterprises
glasses... The most elegant demonstration of general
relativity must be the phenomena of gravitational
lensing. Einstein's prediction that light could be bent
by high mass objects was proven in 1919. It was eventually realized
that, just the way that glass in a lens bends light to form an image,
a massive astronomical object could bend the light of a star or
galaxy behind it to form an image that could be visible to observers
on earth. This can produce multiple images of the same source.
The first such
gravitational lensing case was discovered in 1979. Since then the
effect has become an important tool in astrophysics since it allows
the study of both the source of the light and the mass distribution
of the deflector. See this table
of imaged systems.
For more about
gravitational lensing, see the introductory level materials at
Peter Newbury's site.
You can also
have fun with this gravitational
lensing simulation program offered for free at Kwakkelflap.com.
Gets Slashdotted... Slashdot:
News for Nerds has become famous for spiking the traffic to
sites that get an item about them posted on the popular technology
news posting sevice. Last Friday someone posted an item about the
a Weather Station section I created a couple of years
Your Own Satellite Ground Station - Slashdot - Mar.14.03. (Thanks
to Eli Goldberg of Prometheus
Music for telling me about the posting. I didn't know about
it till a hour or so after it came up.)
spiked my traffic. Instead of the average 1700 visitors and 2500
page views per day, HobbySpace received
nearly 19,000 visitors/35,000 pageviews on Friday. The total
for the past 3 days was roughly 35,000 visitors/ 64,000 pageviews.
Over 6 GB were downloaded, which is close to a typical total for
a whole month. (Thankfully, I'm still within my hosting plan limit!)
The traffic has died down considerably now but I sure hope many
of those who visited decide to become HobbySpace
Note that some
of the comments on the item indicate that weathersat scanning is
an old hobby and hardly qualifies as news. I agree in principle
but most people don't know about the hobby so it will be news to
them. My pages are written at a very introductory, newby-friendly
level to try to entice more people to get involved.
Line Space Courses... The Florida
Space Research Institute - FSRI provides a number of on line
space courses. Supported by the state of Florida to increase the
number of people trained in space related fields, the courses can
be taken for a membership fee of $25 per year. See the ALE
- Advanced Learning Environment section. Two courses - Shuttle
Program and Newtons Laws are free. Courses range in depth from high
school to college level
NSS Chief Talks to HobbySpace
Interview with Brian Chase, Executive Director of
the National Space Society.
Mr. Chase talked with me about space activism, space policy, the
Columbia aftermath and efforts to replace the Shuttle, and priorities
for the NSS.
I also got
a chance to offer some of my observations and suggestions on moving
the the Society, in which I've long been a member, towards a more
hands-on participation orientation. It was the relatively low membership
in the NSS, compared to the millions who show a strong interest
in space, that originally inspired HobbySpace
and its emphasis on space hobbies and activities in which everyone
can get involved.
Rocketry campaign info... The Rocketry
Information Center provides background
info, news, announcements, etc. about the campaign to remove rocketry
fuels from the US government's list of explosives needing strict
campaign headquarters is, of course, also the site to
go to for the latest developments.
inspiration... From model
rockets to X PRIZE
vehicles, rocketry serves as a great inspiration and educational
tool for young people (of all ages) : Space
Entrepreneur and PTC Urge Kids to "Shoot For The Stars": Space Exploration
is Still An Inspiration to Students - PTC - Mar.14.03
stop the rocketry bombardment... The recent
campaign to convince senators to back a bill to remove
rocketry fuels from explosives regulations seems to have overwhelmed
Senate offices with phone calls. The ARSA
campaign headquarters site now requests "Please discontinue
calling your Senators for now." The staff are becoming more
annoyed than impressed by the large number of calls. Continue sending
The magazine Variety reports that Clint Eastwood has bought
the movie rights for the book First Man, an authorized
biography of Neil Armstrong that will come out in 2004. Eastwood
spaces out on Neil Armstrong film - MSNBC - Mar.12.03. Eastwood
does not plan to star in the movie but would produce and direct
business... Here are some recent developments of
interest in the world of space business:
via satellite prospects have risen slightly after getting knocked
flat by the telecom recession and LEO satellite phone failures.
which seemed out for the count when Echostar removed it's support
last year, is now back on its feet with fresh investments from
Intelsat and other major large backers - Report:
WildBlue Ready to Deliver - SkyREPORT.com - Feb.5.03 * WildBlue
to get $156 million: Liberty Media leads group of investors;
satellite launch set - Rocky Mountain News - Dec.24.02
Ergen, head of Echostar, now claims that satellite broadband
is viable though last year he said that it would be so only
if the Echostar - DirecTV merger went through. In the most recent
Space News he claims that new advancements in satellite technology
now make broadband feasible with Echostar's financial resources.
This May the company will launch a satellite with Ka-band transponders
on it. Though current Ku band transponders have been used for
home internet delvery, it is believed that Ka band is required
for providing broadband internet to a large numbers of users
at a reasonable price - EchoStar
to Launch EchoStar IX Satellite in May; New Satellite to Test
First Ever Ka-Band Commercial Service - EchoStar PR - Mar.11.03
mobile satellite phone company plans to introduce a mobile broadband
service - Thuraya
and M2sat Launch a New Mobile Broadband Service... - Thuraya
- Mar.3.03 - though this will be a premium service
such as that offered by Imarsat.
phones - Those two successful companies, which use
satellites in geostationary orbit, are usually ignored in discussions
of satellite phones (their combined subscribers are a few hundred
thousand) and instead the bankruptcies of Iridium
are the focus, as in this report - Satellite
Phones Go To War - Washington Post - Mar.13.03
is now a privately held company with a large US Defense Department
contract. Reports from the company indicate that it now also
has a significant number of non-DOD customers.
contributed to a fund to help Globalstar through its bankruptcy
restructuring - Globalstar
Debtor-in-Possession Financing Approved by Court - Globalstar
PR - Feb.21.03. Whether this indicates a possible joint
operation or takeover in the future is not known.
Monitoring & tracking I've noted before that
there has been something of a boomlet recently in the number
of companies getting involved in using satellites for tracking
of industrial shipments and for data monitoring, i.e. obtaining
data from distributed sources such as pipeline pumping stations
and electrical meters. See the Tracking
& Monitoring section for more info.
have been collaborating on a project to use the Globalstar constellation
of satellites for tracking and monitoring applications. Yesterday
they announced that the service is now available in North America
Introduces Data Monitoring Service in North America - Globalstar
PR - Mar.12.03
TV continues to expand . The total number
of subscribers in the US is now over 20 million and there are
millions more around the world - BSkyB
Reaches 6.5 Million Subs - SkyREPORT.com - Feb.18.03.
Produces Leads ...
public computing project, which now involves more than 4,280,000
users, has accumulated over a million processor-years of computation
on space radio data in search of signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.
Now scientists plan to use the Arecibo radio telescope to re-examine
150 celestial locations for the most promising candidate signals
found in the analysis so far.
Check out the set of Model
Rocketry Ads from
1950s & 60s collected by Sean Lannan and posted at Ninfinger
TrailBlazing Commercial Lunar Exploration
Interview with Paul Blase
- Co-founder and CTO of TransOrbital, the company that plans to
launch its TrailBlazer spacecraft to the Moon this autumn. Last
December the company successfully launched a test spacecraft on
a Dnepr rocket and last August received all necessary licenses for
the lunar mission.
Mr. Blase discussed
with me the status of the project, the challenges of getting such
a mission underway, how activists can contribute to space hardware
development, and what TrailBlazer will mean for commercial exploration
and development of space.
Mr. Blase says there is extra
room on the Dnepr for a small payload. If you know of
a university project or other group in need of a ride for a nanosat,
tell them to contact Paul
Blase for more information.
debut... As mentioned below,
the Chinese manned spaceflight program looks more and more vigorous.
website today published pictures of the Taikonaut Chen
Long expected to make the first flight on the Shenzhou.
now offers an extensive set of resources on the Chinese
Space program. See also the Chinese
links listed here.
It will be very
interesting to watch as their progress in space.
sail status... This article - Plan
to sail space on sun's rays garners interest - SFGate - Mar.4.03
- discusses the status of plans by the Team
Encounter project and the Planetary
Society to place solar sails into space.
to work with Mars rovers... The
Athena Student Interns Program at
JPL will allow students to workd for a week in Pasadena directly
with data from the Mars rovers, which head for the Red Planet this
Spring. Deadline for applications is
brave spacers... Two valiant and spectacularly successful
space probes have recently begun their goodbyes:
10 has apparently sent it's last transmissions from 12 billion
(7.5M miles) away - Deep
space probe says farewell - BBC - Feb.26.03. Launched over 30
years ago, the spacecraft is now on a silent journey into interstellar
space as it's radioisotope power supply slowly dies away.
has been studying Jupiter and its Moons for thirteen years and has
taken a beating from the severe radiation belts there. On February
28th the data recorder was shut down - Goodbye
Galileo - Sky and Telescope - Mar.4.03 - and only minimal contact
will be made with the spacecraft until it dives into Jupiter's atmosphere
on September 21st.
tell you that much if not most of the knowledge and skills for making
something, whether it's rockets or buildings or widgets of any sort,
are carried in the heads of the people involved, not in books or
on computer disks. Saving
all of that knowledge is usually done by passing it on to younger
workers via tutoring and verbal communications.
such knowledge is often lost when projects are canceled or older
workers retire. We
could not, for example, start building Saturn V rockets tomorrow
if we wanted to because a huge body of lost knowledge would first
need to be re-discovered.
Much of history,
in fact, has been lost because the knowledge and memories of those
who were actually involved there "on the ground" so to
speak, never recorded their memories and experience. How can we
understand the Moon Race period, for example, without hearing from
members of the public who remember the mood and spirit of that time.
Science & Technology Memory Bank project at George Mason
University seeks to save some of this knowledge by recording the
"stories and the ever-expanding, ever-accelerating history
of recent science and technology using a contemporary technology
well suited to such a daunting yet critical task: the Internet."
The ECHO wants
those "who have participated in the world of science, technology,
medicine and engineering" to contribute to their growing databank
that will be a treasure trove for future historians who will want
to examine this age.
recently created the Space
in which participants in shuttle development, as well as members
of the general public, can post their stories and impressions about
the loss of Columbia.
section deals with the personal histories of the Apollo landings
on the Moon.
The ECHO site
also maintains an extensive links
directory of Space
Exploration & Aviation historical sites
In the HobbySpace
History section, the Personal
Space Histories sub-section lists a number of other sites
that deal with the recountings by individuals who participated in
space related endeavors or simply what to tell how space exploration
affected their lives.
gets more press ... The attack upon hobby rocketry by
bureaucrats continues to attract more press attention: Toy
rocket engines under ATF scrutiny - Washington Times - Mar.3.03.
(link via Save
Model Rocketry! - Rand Simberg).
seems serious about a long term committement to space
plans three-phase Moon exploration - New Scientist - Mar.3.03
. (Maybe they want to get back on track from where they stopped
600 hundred years ago. See the note below about the Ming Dynasty's
turnaround from exploration.)
Outlawing exploration ... A great nation succeeded at
exploration for a time but then turned back and became a lot less
Ming Emperor Would Have Grounded the Shuttle. Bad Idea - Washington
Post - Mar.2.03
He, Again - Rand Simberg . I should have mentioned that others
had used this historical analogy to space exploration. However,
I though it was interesting that this essayist had made the connection
X PRIZE Founder talks with HobbySpace
Interview with Peter Diamandis
: Founder and President of the X
PRIZE Foundation - Dr. Diamandis answers questions about
a number of topics including the funding of the prize, the sub-orbital
approach to developing spaceflight, regulatory issues, and follow-on
to February 2003 articles in archive