with Constance Adams
check out my latest interview. This time I talk with the architect
for the TransHab Inflatable Space Station Module project. Though
the module was never built, the technology holds great promise for
future structures in space.
over NASA... Philip Chapman proposes a new agency to
promote private space development - The
Failure of NASA And A Way Out by Philip K. Chapman - SpaceDaily
a big splash ... This analysis of an asteroid impact
shows the devastation possible even if it lands way out in an ocean
tsunami sweeps Atlantic Coast in asteroid impact scenario for March
16, 2880 - UCSC PR - May.27.03. Though the threat from this
asteroid is far off, a currently unknown asteroid or comet could
be headed our way even sooner. We need an infrastructure in space
as soon as possible so that when such a threat is discovered, we
can do something about it.
racing to space...
This essay proposes that the China
space program should be taken seriously - The
race into space by Robert Walker - The Washington Times - May.29.03.
I don't see China's program as a threat and instead see some competition
as a great way to awaken the US to the importance of space development.
Deliveries from space...
transportation both to and from space has precluded serious development
of products in space. The limited amount of microgravity
research carried out so far in space as yielded hints
of possible industrial products that could eventually be made there
but it will be a long time before this work reaches an advanced
level of development. As discussed in my Future
section, I think that consumer items such as exotic glass and metal
artworks may become the first moneymaking products from space.
is still the problem of expensive transportation. One low cost approach
for the down trip is to use simple unmanned pods similar to the
way that spysats returned cannisters of film before film was replaced
by digitial transmission. Now we see that the Japanese are, in fact,
exploring this sort of capsule technique for returning space materials
Recovers Capsule That Carried Made-In-Space Product - Space.com
great space books ... Richard Godwin of Apogee
Books contacted me about their "multitude of new books
including the official SpaceDay
publication entitled Vision
of Future Space Transportation and our latest biography
by Sy Liebergot Apollo
collection includes books in many underserved areas especially in
space history. See also their space
models and toys section. Note that many of their books come
with CDs or DVDs.
with Space Art ... Rick
Sternbach, Senior Illustrator Emeritus with Star Trek, Paramount
Pictures, has become editor for the e-Pulsar
webletter of the I.A.A.A.
(International Association of Astronomical Artists).
He wrote to
tell me they have a new look to the bi-monthly publication (see
above). Also, he says the
is actively seeking new members and associates. You don't need to
be an artist to join as an associate - just a keen interest in supporting
and following developments in space
science ain't so bad... As discussed here recently,
the sweeping dismissals of microgravity science often heard in the
media from some scientists are nothing but rhetorical bombast for
their battle to switch money from NASA to the programs they are
interested in. However, I also emphasized that microgravity science
alone cannot justify the huge costs of NASA's human spaceflight
done by the Houston Chronicle for the article - Shuttle
science: Does it pay off? Space-based research brings modest results
- Houston Chronicle - May.24.03 - supports both assertions.
The research does produce novel results that get published in top
journals. However, none of the research has exactly set the world
afire with excitement and can't come close to reasonable cost effectiveness.
Note that the
total amount of time in space that has gone into these experiments
is very small compared to the many person-years that typically go
into a project in a ground based lab. The fact that solid results
came from these short studies is very promising.
this article indicates - NASA
budget cuts, delays endanger space experiments - HoustonChronicle.com
- May.24.03 - the very expensive way that NASA runs the human
spaceflight program, means that good science often never gets a
chance to be done in space at all.
if NASA switched from its science focus for human spaceflight to
concentrating on getting the most number of humans into space in
the cheapest possible manner, it would actually benefit science
done in space far more than what it is doing now.
Space Society Meet ... The NSS
will meet this weekend in San Jose, California for its annual meeting
Space Society's 2003 International Space Development Conference
(ISDC) . Some of the local press has noticed the space spirit
on display - Bay
Area spaceniks aim high - Oakland Tribune Online - May.22.03.
I couldn't make
it myself but I know at least two bloggers who are attending - Rand
Simberg of Transterrestrial
Musing and Michael Mealling of Rocketforge.
I expect they will do nice summaries of the meeting if not daily
log entries from San Jose.
on the run... The government goes after those subversive
rocketeers - May
24th Rocketry Impacts - Space-Rockets.com - May.22.03. (This
item found via Transterrestrial
space shots ... Space Station astronaut grabs a rare
photo of two simultaneous Iridium
Flares : Double
Iridium Flare - Space Station Picture of the Day - May.21.03
Meanwhile, the Mars
Global Surveyor circling Mars takes a break from imaging the
surface of the Red Planet to look back home and take a super photo
showing both Earth and Jupiter, as well as a Jupiter moon : Alien
Earth: Mars Global Surveyor photographs Earth from Mars orbit -
Science@NASA - May.22.03
radio looking real...
As mentioned here several times, Satellite
Radio has become very important for restoring faith in
commercial space following the catastrophes of Iridium and Globalstar.
After a rough startup in the midst of an economic slowdown, it looks
increasingly likely that the satellite radio ventures will indeed
become successful ones.
observers didn't think a pay radio service would attract sufficient
subscribers to become profitable, both of the US satellite radio
firms are showing strong subscriber growth. With fewer start up
Radio built a big lead on Sirius
and now has over 500,000 subscribers. However, Sirius is overcoming
various financial and technical difficulties and has recently reached
60,000 subscribers - Sirius
Roars Back At XM - Forbes - May.22.03. Both predict that by
the end of 2004 they will attain the two to three million subscribers
needed to achieve breakeven.
As this article
May Be Catching Up With Satellite Radio Hype - The Street - May.22.03
- indicates, it looks like satellite radio will be a hit and a big
boost to space commerce. [I sold my XM and Sirius stock after their
recent run up in price but I may buy some back since things look
better and better.]
students, & the future... Jeff Foust writes about
the recent Team
America Rocketry Challenge rocketry competition (see pictures
below) where "hundreds of high school students gather[ed] in
a muddy Virginia field on a rainy Saturday this month" : The
young rocketeer's guide to range safety - The Space Review - May.21.03.
He reports that "they were there to launch rockets and boost
their chances of pursuing a career in space."
rocketry ... Jeff
Foust attended the finals of the Team
America Rocketry Challenge rocketry competition held in Virginia
back on May.11.03 and sent me the above photos. (Click on these
thumbnails for larger images.)
memories ... America's first space station gets some
recognition on its 30th anniversary - Elegy
To A Space Station by Rand Simberg - Transterrestrial Musings
Today... Check out this daily
update on Mars :
as it is Today : The Mars Today poster is produced daily by
Howard Houben of the Mars Global Circulation Model Group for the
Center for Mars Exploration at NASA's Ames Research Center. The
poster depicts current conditions on Mars and its relationship
to Earth in six panels."
Settlement ruckus... John Carter McKnight's recently
wrote an essay
(that went a bit overboard in this editor's opinion) in attacking
a press release by the Moon
Society/ Artemis Society in
support of Alan Wasser's Space
Settlement Initiative. The Initiative advocates that the government
sell plots on the Moon to motivate private development.
Mealling notes that Mr. McKnight mistakenly attributed the press
release to those groups went it actually came from Wasser's organization
Like Body Odor - Rocket Forge - Michael Mealling ...
others have vigorously responded to the general theme of the essay
that it is a bad idea for activists to push the Initiative until
after greater progress is made in basic space development. Mark
Whittington, for example, gave an item by item rebutted
and Wasser later posted his own response.
(Thanks to Rand
Simberg for posting updates on this debate.)
See the Ownership
of Space Resources... section for more details on the
issue of space property ownership. (Note that the Space
Settlement Manifesto involves the completely separate
topic of whether human settlement of space should be the primary
goal for both the government space program and private development.
Ownership of property is a side issue.)
Finals...The finals to the Team
America Rocketry Challenge, sponsored
by NAR & AIA,
took place last Saturday in Great Meadow, Virginia. The
national model rocket competition for U.S. high school and junior
high school students challenges students "to design, build,
and fly a multi-stage model rocket carrying two raw eggs and an
electronic altimeter to exactly 1500 feet, returning both eggs intact."
hundred students from 36 states participated. The top five teams
shared a total prize pool of approximately $50,000 in savings bonds,
and approximately $9,000 in cash awards will be divided among the
sponsoring teachers' departments.
advocacy meetings...Here are some upcoming meetings of
interest to space enthusiasts:
Space Society's 2003 International Space Development Conference
- San Jose, California, May 23 - 26, 2003.
Update : Enterprise Project parallel meeting has been
Space Frontier Foundation's Fifth Annual Return to the Moon Symposium
"The Moon Will Save Us" - July 18 - 20, 2003 (34th anniversary
of the first moon landing) At the Hilton NASA Clear Lake Hotel,
Mars Society Conference 2003, Eugene, Oregon, August 14-17,
I would like
to thank two new advertisers for recently placing their banners
at HobbySpace and helping to
support the site:
I'd also like
to thank my other sponsors Transorbital,
and SpaceToys.com for their
takes up a huge amount of my time and is still far from generating
a sufficient income to justify all that but these sponsors definitely
help the cause.
your name to a Comet... NASA's Deep
Impact mission will smack into Comet Tempel 1 on July 4th 2005.
Your name can be aboard that spacecraft if you register now at Deep
Impact: Send Your Name to a Comet!. See also the article Your
Name Could Make a 'Deep Impact' on a Comet - JPL - May.8.03
mission just left for an asteroid (Japan
launches asteroid probe [Muses-C] - BBC - May.9.03 ) carrying
names registered under a joint program - "Star
Prince" Muses-C - with the
ISAS and the Planetary Society of Japan.
of airliners... Checkout this amazing video - Day
in the Life of air traffic over the United States - that shows
the flow of airliners over the US. Posted at Aerospace
Technology Enterprise - NASA. (Link found at Boing
Activist Clearinghouse... Peter Kokh is a long time space
activist and editor of the Moon
Miners Manifesto, a newsletter that has provided a wealth of
ideas on lunar exploration and settlement since 1986.
Kokh now has
Space Chapter Hub. This site offers a central location for local
chapters affiliated with any of the space organizations to share
resources, ideas, and plans. The site is fairly new but already
provides sections on models
& exhibits, transparency
handbooks, and more.
contests with government purses... The X
PRIZE seeks to provide incentives for development of reusable
launch vehicle technology. It offers a $10 million dollar prize
to the first team to launch a 3 person vehicle to 100km and back
safely and repeats the feat with the same vehicle within 2 weeks.
The X PRIZE
is patterned after the aviation prizes early in the previous century
that gave a tremendous boost to the development of new and improved
aircraft. It is often suggested that such prizes should be offered
for other space goals such as the first orbital RLV, the first rover
on the Moon, and even the first crewed mission to Mars. However,
it will be very difficult to raise from private sources the money
to fund the prizes to the level that could significantly offset
the costs of such undertakings.
So the obvious
solution to this is to seek government money, but the precedents
for public money supporting such technological prizes is limited.
At least until now.
Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently announced
Grand Challenge. This contest will award $1 million to the team
whose robotic autonomous vehicle makes it from Los Angeles to Las
Vegas along a designated route within a specified time limit. The
are quite tough and its not clear anyone will win the competition
in the next year or two. However, the contest will surely motivate
many teams to compete and will advance the technology significantly.
See also the
article at Smart
Robot Autos Tough It Out - Wired - May.7.03.
So with this
precedent there is no reason similar prizes could not be offered
for achieving important milestones in space development.
space science ... I would be the last to claim that pure
scientific research carried out by people in space justifies the
large expenditures on human
spaceflight. Only a long term commitment to space
settlement justifies such expense.
proclaimations that no interesting and novel science can come from
microgravity research are simply wrong. As this article shows Space
station unlocks new world of crystals - New Scientist - May.10.03,
very interesting phenomena can be seen and studied in space that
are not possible in a high gravity environment.
and sites listed in the Microgravity
section emphasize that a wide range of interesting studies in areas
such as combustion science, crystallization, biology are seeing
very intersting and promising results that deserve continuing support.
space in a heartbeat... Mark Shuttleworth reflects on
his trip to space and the aftermath : My
year of living famously, by Afronaut Mark [Shuttleworth] - IOL -
will you go to space again?"
A : "I believe so. In another 20 years it will be much more
accessible, much more conventional and easier to get a ride up
hell, if there is an opportunity to fly up there professionally,
and do some edge of the envelope risky type work up there, where
I'd learn as much, I'd do it in a heartbeat. "
attention... Peter Diamandis gave an interesting status
report on the ZERO-G
company, which he co-founded, at the recent Space
Access Society meeting. The company will begin this summer
to offer rides on a Boeing 727 cargo plane that follow parabolic
trajectories to produce periods of weightlessness.
The latest issue
of the Economist magazine gives a generally postive review of the
tourism - Economist.com - May.1.03.
boosted Cable TV ... The battle between direct-to-home
Satellite TV and cable TV in the US and around the world has become
an increasingly competitive one. However, most people don't realize
that cable TV itself depends on satellite delivery of programming.
(Your local cable providers headquarters is probably surrounded
by several giant satellite dishes.) In fact the introduction of
this service back in the 1970s is what vastly expanded the number
of stations that cable could provide and gave the industry the boost
that made it so common today.
has been posting a series
of articles about the history of communications satellites.
The latest article - Enter
Cable and Broadcasting - Part 8 - discusses the introduction
of satellites to the cable industry and in particular discusses
the history of Ted Turner's invention of the "superstation".
glide to Mars... The BIG
(Baseline Inflatable Glider Balloon Launch Unmanned Experiment)
project is led by students at the University of Kentucky. They are
studying designs for gliders that could fly in the Mars atmosphere.
They plan to release prototypes at high altitudes where atmospheric
density matches that on Mars.
To pack the
long wings needed to obtain lift in such thin air the wings are
initially flexible and rolled up into a tight package. An epoxy
resin is embedded in the material and when the wings unfurl the
UV light from the sun cures and hardens the epoxy, making the wings
stiff and strong.
For more info
Glider: Just add Light - Science@NASA - May.2.03
Yet another GPS application has appeared : locating remote hot springs
for lovers of natural hot tubs. The site Soak.Net
-- A place for natural hot springs resources
gives the coordinates for springs all over the US.
'Soakers' Use Tech to Get Wet: GPS, Web Site Help Adventuresome
Find Natural Hot Springs - ABC News - May.2.03
Astronauts Offer Experiences & Artifacts for Auction
OFFER EXPERIENCES, ARTIFACTS AT AUCTION
TO BENEFIT STUDENTS
Scholarship Foundation and collectSPACE.com
Organize Sale to Raise Scholarships Titusville, FL
(May 1, 2003)
- The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF), in cooperation with
collectSPACE, the leading online community for space memorabilia
collectors, debuted today the online catalog for its first Astronaut
Experiences and Space Memorabilia Silent Auction.
May 24, simultaneously online and in Washington, DC at a astronaut-studded
gala hosted by Sims & Hankow Enterprises at the Capital Hilton
15 former NASA astronauts are participating in the auction by
consigning personal possessions or lending their time by taking
part in activities with winner bidders.
"This is the
first time the members of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation
have, in a major effort, offered personal items or services to
be sold at a silent auction," said James Lovell, Apollo 13 commander
and Chairman of the Foundation. "We became involved only because
we have confidence in the sponsors and their ability to produce
a first-rate event that will greatly benefit our scholarships."
"We are honored
to host this auction for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation,"
said Robert Pearlman, editor and founder of ollectSPACE.com. "Collectors
can now help students succeed in their studies by doing what already
comes naturally, buying astronaut memorabilia and experiences."
For his part,
Lovell contributed both an Apollo 13 mission emblem that flew
to the Moon and a private dinner with him and his wife. "I also
wanted to contribute something more personal, and I hit on the
idea on hosting a dinner for four, along with my wife Marilyn,
at my restaurant, Lovellís of Lake Forest, in the Chicago suburbs.
I look forward to sharing a meal with the top bidders," said Lovell.
four-time flier including as pilot of the first Space Shuttle
launch, is offering to take four people on a personal tour of
the Kennedy Space Center. Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen Garriott
will guide a similar tour at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in
Al Worden will play a round of golf with his lot's winner. John
Glenn, the first American to orbit and the oldest person to venture
into space aboard a shuttle 37 years later, will hold a telephone
conversation with another lucky bidder.
died in 1998, Alan Shepard, Americaís first man in space who later
walked on the moon on Apollo 14, left two items to the Foundation,
with instructions that they one day be sold to raise money for
the scholarship program. Alan had been chairman of the Astronaut
Scholarship Foundation for its first 13 years, until Lovell succeeded
him in 1997. The items are rare models of his Mercury Freedom
7 capsule and the Antares Lunar Module that he steered to the
surface of the Moon.
were presented to Shepard by the manufacturers of his two spacecraft
- the Mercury by McDonnell Aircraft in 1961, and the Lunar Module
by Grumman Aerospace in 1971. These are exquisitly-crafted replicas
that are the centerpieces of Foundationís auction items.
other astronauts consigning items or experiences are Buzz Aldrin
(Apollo 11), Mike Collins (Apollo 11), Edgar Mitchell (Apollo
14), Charles Duke (Apollo 16), Skylab astronauts Jack Lousma,
William Pogue, Jerry Carr, and Paul Weitz, and Space Shuttle commander
years, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarships
to 158 college science and engineering students. ASF currently
awards $144,500 annually to 17 students.
goal is to increase the annual payout to $200,000," said Lovell.
"This auction should help us meet that target."
Scholarship Foundation: The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation
is a non-profit organization established in 1984 by the six surviving
members of Americaís original Mercury astronauts and Mrs. Betty
Grissom, widow of the seventh, Gus Grissom, William Douglas, Project
Mercury M.D. and businessman Henri Landwirth. The Astronaut Scholarship
Foundationís goal is to facilitate the United States in retaining
its world leadership in science and technology by providing scholarships
to upper level college students and those pursuing masters or
doctorates in the fields of science and engineering. The ASFís
headquarters is located at the Astronaut Hall of Fame, which is
adjacent to Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida. For more
information, call 321-269-6119 or visit www.astronautscholarship.org
: Founded on July 20, 1999, the 30th anniversary of the first
Moon landing, collectSPACE.com is the leading website dedicated
to space memorabilia and artifacts. The site features an exclusive
astronaut appearance calendar, original news articles and interviews,
a directory of space collectors worldwide and an online memorabilia
consignment shop, buySPACE.
is getting used for all sorts of tasks such as tracking grocery
carts for frustrated shoppers - CNN.com - Apr.30.03 and for
cabs. NPR did a piece
this week on geocaching.
to April 2003 articles in archive