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The Space Log
Space for Everyone - August 2004

August.31.2004 Space News

Amateur satellite info... An excellent introduction to amateur satellite projects is given in this set of slides: Introduction to Satellites by Emily Clarke - West Coast Space Symposium - April.2004 (pdf, 1.5M) from the projectoscar.net website. This site offers a lot of other resources as well such as the OSCAR links.

The Project Oscar home page currently is posting a set of papers from the same symposium like this intro to space radio: Getting Started by Cliff Buttschardt and Ed English - West Coast Space Symposium - April.2004 (pdf, 600K)

Emily Clarke provides a lot of interesting info on her own Planet Emily web site. For example, the AO-7 Resource Page reports on the OSCAR that refuses to die.

Space all around... Dennis Tito said he never tired of watching the infinite variety of magnificent scenery as the earth passed below the ISS. He only had a relatively small window to view it all, though. He may decide to go back after they install the cupola in 2009: A room with a view for the International Space Station: Completion of the cupola observation module - ESA Portal - Aug.30.04.

The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday August 31, 2004: 7-8:15pm Pacific Time - "features Jeff Krukin, advocate of the importance of space to human survival and prosperity, and our connection to space in numerous ways, i.e. "Human-Space Connection. (tm)" This covers the spectrum from spiritual to scientific to environmental to commercial.

Sunday Sept. 5, 2004: 12:00-1:30pm Pacific TIme - features Dr. Barbara Thompson, NASA GSFC, "Space Weather - Conditions, Considerations, Forecasting" and much, much more!

Now posted in the archive are recent interviews with Gene Meyers, Founder and CEO of The Space Island Group, Inc, with Dr. John Brandenburg who is a Mars scientist, researcher in various forms of propulsion, and science fiction author aka Victor Norgarde, and with Jim McDade who is a long time space advocate, activists, and publisher of Space ADG newsletter.

Hear the SpaceShow programs live at KKNW, 1150 AM in Seattle, and on line at www.live365.com/stations/dlivingston?site=dlivingston.

News briefs ... The ISS astronauts work with two ham stations: ARISS Puts ISS Phase 2 Equipment to Use as FM "EasySat" - ARRLWeb - Aug.30.04 ...

... Saw a link yesterday to this useful resource site: Encylopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy, and Spaceflight - David J. Darling. See also these other space encyclopedias and references and space statistics....

... Satellite phones are finding their niches: Security Concerns Seen as Boon for Mobile Satellite Services - Space News/Space.com - Aug.30.04 * Wireless World: Satellite Phones On The Rise - SpaceDaily/UPI - Aug.20.04.


August.30.2004 Space News

NASA - always losing its mind... While some say that the NASA culture is gradually overcoming its faults, the agency's memory continues to fail badly. Take, for example, the President's Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond, also known via its chairman's name as the Aldridge Commission.

The commission had hearings over several months that included testimonies from a broad range of space advocates, entrepreneurs, scientists, analysts, and others with interesting point of view on the future of US space policy. One doesn't have to be an Internet pack rat to realize the educational and historical value of the transcripts and videos from these hearings that were available on the commission's web site.

Yet, without any warning or explanation, the original commission link now goes to nothing but a short, dull message from the administrator. Thankfully, a non-NASA archive has made a copy of the commission's web site, which even includes its documents and videos (link via the Space Review).

This is hardly an unusual occurrence. Frequently, NASA web pages, and even vast web sites devoted to particular projects like the X-33, just disappear without a trace from the NASA.gov domain. (Usually there is no forwarding address provided even when a page has simply been moved to a different location. Innumerable bookmarks around the world are spoiled everyday by NASA.)

While some fraction of the resources of the NASA's disappeared web resources can be found in third-party archives like the CyberCementary and the Wayback Machine, some significant information is lost to public access. The agency has never explained why it doesn't provide a complete online archive on its own.

As someone who has for years tried to post and maintain links to a sampling of the vast amount of NASA web resources, I can tell you that nothing is more exasperating than the way the agency cavalierly breaks those links. To me this represents the breaking of an implicit promise by a government agency to preserve, protect, and publish the results of its expenditures of the public's money.

Even if a project like the X-33 is a failure, there is no excuse for blanking it out from the agency's web publications. Much can be learned from mistakes as well as successes.

This problem goes beyond just web sites. Constance Adams, the space architect, lamented in an article in Popular Science a general Knowledge Capture failure by the agency. For example, when starting to work on development of a module for the ISS, she had great difficulty locating technical information about the agency's first space station - Skylab. Her group came to rely heavily on a cadre of retired NASA engineers who provided crucial advice and data from their own personal archives and memories.

She points out that this kind of human data resource is also cavalierly discarded by the agency. Teams that have accumulated hundreds of person-years of work in a particular area are broken up without any systematic effort to collect and retain all of the experience and knowledge gained. These will all have to be re-accumulated again when some future project returns to that area.

While the agency works on its cultural shortcomings, it should also seek a cure for its long term memory problems.

News briefs... Speaking of the Adridge commission, there is at least one Mars advocate who won't mind if it disappears from view: Debating the Aldridge report by Jeff Foust - Space Review - Aug.30.04....

... Check out the other interesting articles in the latest Space Review such as Whatever happened to solar power satellites? - The Space Review - Aug.30.04 and Buy the light of the Moon - The Space Review - Aug.30.04....

... Taking Mars life seriously: Life on Mars: A Definite Possibility - Astrobiology Magazine - Aug.30.04.

News briefs... Add a solar activity monitor monitor to your home page courtesy N3KL.org...

... A chance for amateur space explorers to obtain a set of big radio dishes: Stanford 8/26 meeting report: Success! Dish demolition deferred - ERPS Forum - Aug.27.04 ...

... Dennis Wingo expects a Moonrush: We must mine the moon, man says: Local author argues lunar mission works only as business trip - Huntsville Times - Aug.28.04...

... The Space Flight Adventure Camp of the Virginia Space Flight Academy offers summer and weekend Camps at the Wallops Flight Facility near Chincoteague Island, Virginia. It's trying a more low-key, educational approach than that of Space Camp in Huntsville: Flying high at space camp: Director laments local students' lack of interest in program - Eastern Shore News - Aug.28.04...

... Tripoli West Palm launches The Big Kahuna, Spirit of Columbia built by local high school students: 'Chute fails at 8,000 feet, foiling kids' space project: The payload from a 24-foot rocket that Pembroke Pines students helped build crashes in a field after takeoff, but students and their teacher remain optimistic. - Herald.com - Aug.29.04

... A TIVO for satellite radio isn't appreciated by everyone: Homemade Sat Radio Software Bump - Wired News - Aug.29.04 ...

... Washington Post reviews the status of the new space policy: Plan 1 for Outer Space: In a Treacherous Environment, NASA Charts a New Course - Washington Post - Aug.29.04 ...

... This article is not quite right: Have $20 million? Be a space tourist: Russia willing to sell seat on flight taking Danville astronaut to station - Tri-Valley Herald Online - Aug.29.04. I've heard that Lori Garver was making great progress in setting up sponsors for her trip to the ISS until Lance Bass made it appear he was certain to fly, which caused her sponsors to back out.


August.27.2004 Space News

World Space Week - Oct.4-10 will involve "celebrations in over 50 nations on all seven continents marking the 5th year of World Space Week" -

Students will compete for the chance to meet World Space Week Youth Spokesperson Lance Bass of NSYNC by designing Lance's Lab for the International Space Station.

Teacher Materials include activity guides for space-related math and science topics. There's also a kit with the guide, poster and certificate.

Lift prize ... Alan Boyle reports on an X PRIZE type of contest for space elevator technology development: Space elevator contest proposed: 'Elevator:2010' aimed - MSNBC - Aug.27.04.

The Space Elevator Climber Competition is sponsored by Elevator 2010. The latter group is in turn supported by The Spaceward Foundation and Gizmonics, Inc..

News briefs... Use the Bigha: Jasper Laser, an ultra-bright green laser, at night to point out constellations and other celestial features. ...

... Check out the this building block, functional nanosat model at EyasSAT : Educational Satellite System ...

... The Dr. Sky Show, hosted by Steve Kates, provides this archive of interviews with the "worlds most interesting guests from the realms of Astronomy, Space, Aviation and Weather and much more.." ...

... Well, I liked Blade Runner but it's no Space Odyssey (in my totally unbiased view): 'I've seen things...': Our expert panel votes for the top 10 sci-fi films - Guardian - Aug.26.04 ...

... Amazing how in the past ten years or so we've gone from no know extrasolar planets to over one hundred and the search resolution just gets steadily better: Extra-special exoplanets - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Aug.26.04 * Major NASA Extrasolar Planet Discovery Announcement Scheduled for August 31st - SpaceRef - Aug.26.04.

Tech News briefs... First there came the announcement of a metallic glass: Glass breakthrough - Physics Web - Aug.25.04...

... And now comes the plastic magnet: First practical plastic magnets created - New Scientist - Aug.25.04


August.26.2004 Space News

Tourism - where the real money is ... I occasionally here people scoff at the notion that tourism will provide the sort of serious market that commercial space needs for its development. There's the notion that tourism is a trivial service and instead what space commerce needs to produce is some sort of tangible commodity (e.g. He3 from the Moon or platinum from asteroids) or a product like solar power.

In fact, tourism is the single biggest industry on earth and one of the largest employers. World tourism expenditures are estimated to be over 500 billion dollars (Plunkett Research - Travel/Tourism Industry * Tourist Stats) If private space tourism in twenty or thirty years can grow to the size of just one of the large Caribbean cruise lines, it will be a huge success and easily create the framework for large scale space settlement....

... Meanwhile, Space Adventures continues steadily to develop new space tourism related services: Space Adventures Offers Teambuilding and Leadership Programs Through Team Concepts, Inc. Bringing space experiences to the Olympic level - Space Adventures - Aug.24.04

News briefs... Alan Boyle reports on the space music contest at the recent Mars Conference: More melodies for Mars - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Aug.24.04 ...

.. Satellite phones are slowly becoming a real business: Wireless World: Satellite Phones On The Rise - SpaceDaily/UPI - Aug.20.04....

... Sounds like amateur astronomers could afford the equipment to start looking for extrasolar planets: Backyard Telescope Helps Find New Planet - Space.com - Aug.24.04....

.. Mars cries dry tears for its lost seas: Martian teardrop carved in crater - New Scientist - Aug.24.04....

.., But maybe Mars life was not lost: Scientists Seek Scent of Life in Methane at Mars - Space.com - Aug.24.04....

... And maybe human life will go there to revive a near dead planet: Mars Homestead Project


August.24.2004 Space News

Mars Society Convention press release reports on the highlights of this year's meeting held over the weekend in Chicago. Note the information on the Mars movie in production and on the Second Rouget De Lisle song contest.

Mars Society Convention A Smashing Success
August 23, 2004

The 7th International Mars Society convention has been a smashing success. Held at the historic Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL from August 19-22, the convention gathered 400 leading space scientists, engineers, government officials, entrepreneurs, activists, authors, and artists from many countries, including the USA, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Britain, Ireland, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Poland, Japan, China, India, and Australia to discuss ways and means of advancing the exploration and settlement. Over 120 papers were presented, and over $50,000 was raised to further the work of the Mars Society. The conference received prominent coverage in many important Chicago area media, including The Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Journal-Herald, NPR Radio, and Fox TV News.

Among the highlights of the convention were the opening plenary by Mars Society President Robert Zubrin, who explained how a coherent joint Moon-Mars system development could enable the exploration of both bodies at much lower cost and risk, and shorter schedule than the wasteful "first Moon, then Mars" approach being pushed on NASA by certain quarters. Zubrin's presentation was followed by Dr. Steven Squyres, the Principal Investigator of the Mars Exploration Rover mission, which has discovered conclusive evidence for existence of large standing bodies of water for long durations of Mars' early history, habitable environments in which life could have once evolved. Squyres made it clear that he believed that human exploration was a necessary follow-up to the robotic exploration of Mars. This prompted one reporter to observe: "There are all these characters who say that Mars can be explored just with robots. But the guy who is actually exploring Mars with robots says we need to send people. That says it all."

Squyres was followed by Admiral Craig Steidle, NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems, who is leading the space agencies efforts to return humans to the Moon and proceed onward to Mars. Steidle explained his plan for "spiral development" of the necessary systems for human exploration, and emphasized that he hoped to work closely with the Mars Society in moving the program forward. Steidle reemphasized this latter point in a comment which appeared in the Sunday Chicago Tribune August 22, in which he said; "Societies like the Mars Society are extremely important to us. They have an innovative and thorough process. We hope to continue the journey together."

Other exciting plenary talks included Dr. Mike Lembeck, who serves as Steidle division chief for requirements development, who explained how his group is laying out the roadmap for technology development to open the solar system; Dr. Bill Clancey, the head of human centered computing at NASA Ames Research Center, who presented a talk and video showing research his group has done at the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station investigating techniques for combined human-robot exploration on Mars; Dr. Stan Borowski, of the NASA Glenn Research Center, and the space agency's top expert on nuclear thermal rocket (NTR) propulsion, who explained how NTR technology could enable accelerated cost-effective
exploration of the Moon, Mars, and beyond; Dr. Chris McKay, of NASA Ames Research Center, who explained the central significance of the search for life on Mars to resolving the question of the diversity and prevalence of life in the universe; Eric Anderson; President and CEO of Space Adventures Ltd., who explained how space tourism could potentially open a market that would establish the economic basis for commercially financed space settlement; Dr. Fred Pohl, a Grandmaster of science fiction (author of many award winning works, including "The Space Merchants") who presented a science fiction visionary's view of "When will humankind become a spacefaring species." Dr. Scott Horowitz; and astronaut and Shuttle commander, who piloted the second Hubble repair mission, who presented an astronaut's view of human Mars exploration.

A major sensation was caused at the convention by the announcement by award-winning filmmaker Sam Burbank that he would be making a theatrical motion picture based on Robert Zubrin's novel "First Landing." Listing the various Hollywood horror pictures or shoot-em- ups nominally featuring Mars, Burbank drew a sharp distinction between those efforts and the kind of movie "First Landing" will be. "There never has been a movie actually about the human exploration of Mars. This will be the first." Burbank said, adding: "It will not be set in the glorious science fiction future, but in our own time, and it will show the mission done with all the grungy realism of the kind of space travel we can really do. It's not going to show the Mars mission as being easy. It's not going to show it as being impossible. It's going to show it as being really tough, but doable, by a group of people who have what it takes to do it."

If the heavy applause Burbank received wasn't sufficient indication of the audience's appreciation of his project, what happened next certainly was, as following his remarks, paperback copies of "First Landing" were bought up literally by the dozens by conference members mobbing the book table.

Another highlight of the conference was the showing of advance clips of James Cameron's upcoming 3-D IMAX film "Aliens of the Deep." The footage for this movie was taken by Cameron and his team operating in a flotilla of submarines operating in conjunction with mobile telerobots to explore extremophile lie forms living around hydrothermal vents 3000 ft below the Atlantic. Cameron was going to show the movie to the conference himself, but a last minute emergency called him away. However in his place he sent his co-producer and fellow underwater explorer Steve Quayle, who presented the film to the conference. The film was quite literally incredible, with the explorers discovering at every turn weird creatures that exceed the imagination of Hollywood special effects artists. The movie will appear in IMAX theaters starting in January 2005, and we give it eight hundred thumbs up. No one should miss this film. There never, ever, has been anything like it.

There is so much that could be said, and not all can. But one thing that cannot escape mention is the joy and excitement brought to the convention by the space song contest. This contest, formally known as the Second Rouget De Lisle space song competition (so named after the musical genius who wrote "La Marseillaise," and thus gave the French Revolution its rousing anthem) was conducted over the past year, during which over 100 songs celebrating human space exploration were submitted. These were downselected to 20 finalists who sang off in public competition on the evening of Friday August 20. the audience of Mars Society members voted for the top six, who then sang in final competition at the Saturday night banquet. These songs were outstanding, and it was hard to judge between them. But for the record, the winners are:

Gold Medal Category;
1st place; "Thank God Dreams Survive," by Bill, Tina, and Casey Swindell
2nd place; "On to Mars," by Robert McNally

Silver Medal Category
3rd Place; "Lullaby for Mars," by S. Miria Jo
4th Place; "When Mice Become Men," by Janetta Deavers

Bronze Medal Category
5th Place; "Make this World Come Alive," written by Leslie Fish, sung by Beatriz Serrato
6th Place; "First Footprint," by Robert McNally.

All 20 of the finalists have been forwarded to Prometheus Music (producers of the highly successful "To Touch the Stars" CD which featured selections from the previous Rouget de Lisle" song contest) for possible inclusion in its next release.

Songs from the first Rouget de Lisle contest have been posted and are available for downloading at the "Mars Songs" link at www.marssociety.org.

By popular demand, there will be a Third Roget de Lisle competition for songs celebrating the human exploration of space next year.

Next year's Mars Society convention will be held next August at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The conference plenary hall there is known as the Glen Miller ballroom, after the famous musician and CU graduate, who was lost over the English channel while traveling to lift the spirits of the troops trying to break out of the Normandy beachhead during June 1944. It's fitting that his ballroom should host the meeting of those seeking to break humanity out of its planetary beachhead. And this time the musicians to rouse their spirits will be there too.

The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday August 24, 2004: 7-8:15pm Pacific Time - "features Dr. John Brandenburg, Mars scientist, science fiction author aka Victor Norgarde and author of “Morningstar Pass: The Collapse of the UFO Cover-up.” Dr. John Brandenburg is a researcher at Florida Space Institute having come from The Aerospace Corporation, where one of his duties was as principle investigator of the MET (Microwave Electro-Thermal) propulsion project. He also performed an architecture study for a Human Mars Mission using solar electric propulsion...."

Sunday August 29, 2004: 12:00-1:30pm Pacific TIme - the Space Show guest "features returning Space Show guest Gene Meyers, Founder & CEO of The Space Island Group, Inc. Gene Meyers has worked as an industrial engineer and division manager for 25 years, most recently TRW. He has written more than 100 articles on space commercialization, and has discussed the topic on some 200 radio talk shows and a dozen television news outlets. Meyers founded The Space Island Group, Inc. in 1999 as a for-profit company with the goal of privately financing the design, launch and construction of very large, commercial space facilities in orbit..."

Now posted in the archive is the recent interview with Prof. Leik Myrabo of Rensselear Polytechnic Institute and founder of Lightcraft Technologies. Inc. He will talk about his ideas and experiments involving beamed energy propulsion using lasers and microwaves.

Hear the SpaceShow programs live at KKNW, 1150 AM in Seattle, and on line at www.live365.com/stations/dlivingston?site=dlivingston.

China and the US and space... Taylor Dinerman reviews the chances for possible Chinese-US cooperation in space: Dancing on eggs: US space cooperation with China - Space Review - Aug.23.04....

... While Jeffrey Bell makes his usual rapid-fire over-the-top generalizations and gross simplifications, he's right that the US has little to fear from another big dumb government-run space program: Why Fear Won't Sell Space - SpaceDaily - Aug.20.04 (link via Jon Goff.)...

... But as Rand Simberg warns, if they decide to switch to an incremental development route, starting with low cost suborbital space access route ala SS1, then the US better watch out.

News briefs... Fly your name on the SpaceShipOne for a vicarious space thrill: 'Ordinary names' to go into space - BBC - Aug.23.04...

... Defense satellites map out nightlife around the world: Earth at Night - APOD - 2004 Aug.22.04 ...

... Dirty talk may drive space radio even higher: Radio's Satellite Revolution - Motley Fool Take - Aug.2.04 ...

... Check out the latest animations of Mars landscapes at Space4Case. BTW: The soundtrack music for the two long animations made for the 1st European Mars Society European Convention is very nice.


August.22.2004 Space News

In space, feeling good, and writing songs ... Barnaby Oliver of the band Venus Ray wrote to tell me he is producing an album based on music written in space by cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko.

During a 326 day stay on Mir from Feb.5.1987 to Dec.29.1988, Romanenko wrote 20 songs. They were "optimistic songs, written by a man who feels good" according to this article: Cosmonaut sees no limit to space visit length - Houston Chronicle - Jan.21.88.

Barnaby says he is trying to get Romanenko, who lives in Star City near Moscow, to come to London to record the songs but they haven't yet managed to arrange his trip.

Nevertheless, the album is in production with background vocals being recorded by members of Venus Ray. If Romanenko doesn't provide the lead they will either use another singer or do the songsin instrumental form. "I'm still very excited about the project, and intend to produce a genuinely good record, not just a gimmick. I also have (less advanced) plans for a stage show based on the songs."

He says the album "will come out on Negative Records in the UK, but we will be seeking licensing deals for other countries."

Too few millions... A Russian millionaire tried to get a discount on a flight to the ISS after Gregory Olsen's ticket was canceled due to health problems. Despite the fact they will now get no millions at all, the Russian space agency refused to drop its price to what Sergei Polonsky was willing to pay: Russian millionaire rejected for space ride: After talks, space agency opts for military cosmonaut - MSNBC - Aug.20.04

Lunar lander sim for the MS Flight Simulator 2004 coming out this fall. LunarPilot will offer a highly realistic simulation of the the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV), which was used to train the Apollo astronauts.

Mars sim misfire... Here's a report on a Mars exploration simulation that never got released to the public: Another World Is Here: Angry Red Planet - WorldChanging - Aug.21.04 (Via Andrew Case at Transterrestrial Musings)

News briefs... Frank Sietzen talks about the events that led to the President's space initiative: New Moon Rising - Interview with Frank Sietzen - Space.com - Aug.20.04 ...

... Check out the beautiful snapshots of Saturn and its Rings taken by Cassini: Latest color pictures from Cassini look like artwork - Spaceflight Now - Aug.19.04 ...

... Meanwhile, the Mars rovers continue their explorations: Mars Rover Finds Mysterious Rocks and More Signs of Water - The New York Times - Aug.19.04 *
Bedrock in Mars' Gusev Crater hints at watery past - Spaceflight Now - Aug.18.04 ...

... Watch the National Space Society director testify to the Aldridge Commission: George Whitesides Testimony - Videos - NSS Chapters News - Aug.18.04


August.18.2004 Space News

News briefs... Phil Plait's and his Bad Astronomy website get some attention: Scientist debunks astronomically bad ideas - Marin Independent Journal - Aug.17.04...

... Alt.spacers should head for Long Beach in October: Space Frontier Conference 13 - aboard the Queen Mary ocean liner in Long Beach California, Columbus Day weekend, October 8-10, 2004. Let's Rock this Boat - Queen Mary to Host Major Space Conference - Space Frontier Foundation Announces Gathering of Space Experts and Rocketeer - Aug.17.04....

... Everyone can participate in rocketry: Blind students to launch NASA rocket: Thursday launch to measure light, temperature, pressure, speed - MSNBC - Aug.17.04...

... Grassroots space activists went to the Moon Mars Blitz to push for the President's space initiative: Space junkies push Congress: Budget tough to sell during election year - Florida Today - Aug.18.04...


August.17.2004 Space News

The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday August 17, 2004: 7-8:15pm Pacific Time - "features Humboldt C. Mandell, Jr., Ph.D. Dr. Mandell is currently the senior Research Fellow at The University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research and the principal investigator for Mars Deep Drill project. He recently retired after 40 years with the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where his most recent duties were developing plans for a human expedition to the planet Mars...."

Sunday, August 22, 2004, 6:00-7:30pm Pacific Time - "features returning Space Show guest, Jim McDade. Mr. McDade has his MIS degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is a long time space advocate, activists, and publisher of Space ADG newsletter. He has written numerous articles and commentaries about space exploration for the Birmingham News , InsideKSC, TV, radio and other publications over the past several decades. He is a former Contributing Editor for the Space.Com Astronomy reporters network, Mr. McDade has been a radio reporter and TV reporter/producer for a state public television network in the late-1970s...."

Now available on line is a interview with Prof. Leik Myrabo of Rensselear Polytechnic Institute and founder of Lightcraft Technologies. Inc. He talked about his ideas and experiments involving beamed energy propulsion using lasers and microwaves.

Hear the SpaceShow programs live at KKNW, 1150 AM in Seattle, and on line at www.live365.com/stations/dlivingston?site=dlivingston.

News briefs... The book Moonrush by Dennis Wingo gets a positive review from Jeff Foust. (Amazon affiliate link)...

... One reason it's great to have a space station if you are interested in long term, large scale settlement of space is to learn about the various practical things that you don't know about until you are actually in space working everyday and getting surprised when things don't behave as expected: Soldering Surprise - Science@NASA - Aug.16.04 ...

... Sam Dinkin talks about why the choice is never actually between space and _____ (fill in the blank with your favorite non-space program): Space vs. butter - The Space Review - Aug.16.04 ...

... I've been informed of the Japanese web site SpaceFutureJapan.com, which is apparently a companion site to SpaceFuture.com, run by Patrick Collins...

... Bigelow licenses more technology from NASA for spacecraft development:
NASA Notice of Prospective Patent License: Bigelow Development Aerospace Division, LLC - SpaceRef - Aug.16.04...

... Get a look from space of the Athens Olympic site: Views from Space - Athens 2004 Olympics.

Japanese space love story... The following Japanese TV program recently began on the USN network, which is carried by some cable systems in the US (item via HS reader Jay K.):

New Drama Series "Loved to love" starts on August 6th at 8:30pm!

Two souls that were destined to meet and fall in love. What happens if one of them leaves this world before even meeting the other?

Akiyama (Kenji Sakaguchi) is an elite pilot who trained at NASA, and now enrolled to be a pilot of Japan's first manned space shuttle launch. Reiko (Hitomi Kuroki) is a director at an investment bank that sponsors this space shuttle project. They got the looks, intelligence and wealth. But there is one thing they don't have... which is truly love and to be truly loved. Akiyama and Reiko were destined to meet and to be fall in love.

This captivating romantic love story starts on August 6th!

[The US broadcast in Japanese with English subtitles.]


August.15.2004 Space News

Apollo computer emulation... Check out the Virtual AGC - Apollo Guidance Computer Emulation progam developed by Ronald Burkey. The Virtual AGC is a detailed, faithful emulation of the Apollo guidance computer used in both the Command Module and on the Lunar Module. Executables are available for Linux and Windows.

The open source project can allow the AGC code to become a module in a general Apollo/LM simulation. For example, Mark Grant is working to incorporate it into the Orbiter simulator. More Developer Info.

For more history on the AGC, see One Giant Leap: The Apollo Guidance Computer by Dag Spicer - DrDobb's - Feb.2001 and Phil Parker's The Apollo On-board Computers.

Space music ... Boris Belovarski and his wife Victoria are independent producers of audiovisual programs that mainly invovlve "sci-fi audio theatres (radio drama) and audiobooks, plus all that comes with it: music soundtracks, special effects (SFX), foleys, moods, soundcapes, etc." He also writes sci-fi books.

Samples of their own music are available on their ACIDplanet.com page. It provides a complete version of Mars Cantata, which they dedicated to the STS-107 Columbia crew. They have released several albums including Spacewalk: From Eden to Mars (2003)


August.14.2004 Space News

Britain grounded in science...The British have long followed the advice of their scientific establishment and funded no manned programs of any kind. But rather than producing a bonanza for science, the Sagan rule (i.e., space science funding tracks manned spaceflight funding) holds true and the entire British program remains small and anemic: Will we ever have lift off? Timandra Harkness - spiked-science - Aug.13.04


August.13.2004 Space News

Memorabilia auction... In support of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, there will be a space collectibles auction on September 4th to fund support for college students "who exhibit motivation, imagination, and exceptional performance in the science or engineering field of their major" - Silent Auction on Sept.4,04 - collectSPACE

"A majority of the items to be auctioned were consigned by the astronauts and their families."

You can particpate via the Internet or in-person at a dinner with the astronauts hosted by Sims & Hankow Enterprises at the Burbank Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, California.

More info at www.collectspace.com/auction/.

The SpaceShow this week:

This Sunday the Space Show guest will be Prof. Leik Myrabo of Rensselear Polytechnic Institute and founder of Lightcraft Technologies. Inc. He will talk about his ideas and experiments involving beamed energy propulsion using lasers and microwaves.

Now available on line is a interview with Guillermo Sohnlein, who was a guest last Tuesday. He is the founding Director of the International Association of Space Entrepreneurs (IASE).

Check out also the recent interview with Ed Wright, who talked about suborbital spaceflight and his company X Rocket. A major goal of the company is the development of the Rocket Academy where students will train for spaceflight and will culminate their education with a ride to 60Km on the Archangel.

Hear the SpaceShow programs live at KKNW, 1150 AM in Seattle, and on line at www.live365.com/stations/dlivingston?site=dlivingston.

News briefs ... Get your Moon phase update via a screensaver: Daily Moon Phases screensavers - StarMessage screensaver ...

... Not quite the undersea city of sci-fi but this facility is still impressive: Undersea Habitat Becomes Experimental Hospital Bed for NEEMO 7 - NASA/SpaceRef - Aug.12.04


August.11.2004 Space News

Space perception... This article - Space and subject classification by Michael Huang - The Space Review - Aug.9.04 - discusses how the conventional classification of space as a scientific subject keeps it confined to that area and makes it difficult to expand consideration of space policies to a broader range of possibilities. If we instead thought of space as a "place", then a wild idea like space settlement becomes much less wild because human settlement is what usually happens to a "place".

News briefs... Russian businessman may be the next space tourist to go the ISS: Construction Mogul Bargains for Space Ride - The Moscow Times - Aug.10.04 ...

... There might be remains of ancient microbial mats on the Mars surface. Won't know for sure until we send the right instruments there to find out: NASA Scientist Sees Possible Mat of Martian Microbes - Space.com - Aug.9.04....

...The communications infrastructure at Mars keeps growing: Interplanetary net widens - Alan Boyle/Cosmic Log - Aug.10.04 ...

... Keith Cowing wants NASA to make a clear and firm decision on how it will attempt to repair Hubble: Fixing NASA's Hubble: Its Time to Fish or Cut Bait by Keith Cowing - SpaceRef - Aug.10.04


August.9.2004 Space News

News briefs... Bigelow Aerospace is gradually revealing more to the press about its projects: U.S. Hotel Tycoon Reaches for the Stars - Reuters.com - Aug.8.04 (via Space Race News)...

... If robots are so great, why do oceanographers still want to travel in person to the deepest waters: An Undersea Fixture for 4 Decades Is Headed to Pasture - The New York Times - Aug.7.04 * Alvin to be Retired - Transterrestrial Musings - Aug.7.04. (Or why do other scientists spend hundred of millons of dollars to work in the Antarctic and build and maintain crewed stations there: NSF - OLPA - Fact Sheet: U.S. Antarctic Program)...

Cool calculation tool... Here's an innovative program called Frink, created by Alan Eliasen. At the simplest level it just does unit conversion but, as these sample calculations show, it can do an amazing range of calculations with one or a few lines of code. It "is optimized for doing quick, off-the-cuff calculations with a minimum of typing".

You can use in with a form or an applet. You can also download and run it as a standalone application and can incorporate it into other Java programs.


August.7.2004 Space News

A rocket race movie is in development: Film based on ANSARI X PRIZE in development: 'First Flight' - Space Race News! - Aug.6.04. The company
Conti Film is developing a "sexy, romantic, adventure" based on the X PRIZE. Called First Flight, the test film (Windows Media, 11MB) shows high quality special effects but has a disappointingly downbeat climax.

Explore Mars pictures and with a bit of imagination you can find all sorts of strange phenomena: Mars Gone Wild: Millions of amateur astronomers are poring over pictures of the Red Planet. Experience the thrill of discovery - or self-delusion - for yourself! - Wired - Aug.04 (See also the Strange Mars Images section.)

Explore the cosmos from home... Several times I've discussed the new robotic telescope capabilities that allow one to carry out observations on major telescopes via the Internet. (See the Robotic Telescopes section.) Now SLOOH.com offers a subscription type program in which you can do observation with telescopes on the Canary Islands. See the FAQ and Press articles for more info.

Space law, property, and timewarps... This article describes some of the issues related to space law, especially the development of private property rights: Writing the rules to govern the cosmos : Where mankind may go, lawyers are quick to follow - and futuristic as it may seem, some are busily writing the laws they hope will ultimately govern the universe. - csmonitor.com - Aug.4.04.

The article quotes a space lawyer as saying -

"Outer space is a province of all mankind," says Sylvia Ospina, a member of the board of directors at the International Institute of Space Law. "There is not, and should not be, any privatization of outer space. It is a common thing that should belong to all."

This kind of proclamation drives many space advocates to distraction. Unfortunately, in many academic circles, especially in Europe, there remains a time warp to the 1960s where all correct thinking educated people take for granted that private ownership is bad, government ownership is good.

The fact that you cannot find anywhere on earth a successful economy without private property rights is irrelevant to their utopian ideals.

A rational, empirical approach would involve the creation of a framework of private property rights that requires a physical presence on the property of interest and the development of that piece of property. You shouldn't be able to claim the whole Moon, for example, just because you build a habitat on a small piece of it.

The details need to be worked out for this kind of homesteading in space (e.g. would a robotic presence suffice or would human occupation be required) but I see no reason it couldn't be made to work.

All of humanity will benefit from the settlement of space and the creation of a viable economy model. It doesn't subtract from my wealth, or anyone else's, for example, if someone homesteads a plot of land in Alaska. Quite the contrary, if that person successfully develops that property in some way such as by farming or mining it, we all benefit. The homesteader makes a living from whatever good or service they derive from that property and we get a good or service that we desire.

The same economic principles will hold true in space. Economics is a win-win scenario when done correctly.

See more discussion of this article at Space Law - Transterrestrial Musings - Aug.5.04

Space islands of profitability... Participants at the recent Return to the Moon Conference discussed a plethora of ideas about how to return to the Moon and to build habitats, colonies and businesses there. Jon Goff sent me a link to his presentation (460KB powerpoint) in which he discusses "islands of profitablity" that could finance a process of incremental commercial development of the systems to reach the Moon and to settle it.

Another Mars season passes... This summer's Mars projects on Devon Island have come to an end. You can read Elaine Walker's journals about her days with the NASA Haughton-Mars Project. The Mars Society's Flashline Arctic Research Station is closing up and you can read the crew commander's summary at Flashline MARS Crew Completes Field Season - Mars Society - Aug.2.04. Alan Boyle reviews the Lessons from an Arctic Mars - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - Aug.4.04.

News briefs... Speaking of Mars, check out the Rick Sternbach Resin Castings of Mars terrains....

... Maybe hibernation for space travelers isn't total sci-fi after all: Could astronauts sleep their way to the stars? Space agency plans studies on human hibernation. - news@nature.com - Aug.3.04....

... Get together with other space fans: International Space Exploration Meetup Day ....

... The space colony based thriller The View From Zero has moved to a new web address.


August.4.2004 Space News

News briefs... Jeff Foust reviews the book by Frank Sietzen and Keith Cowing on the Presidents space initiative: Review: New Moon Rising - The Space Review - Aug.2.04. More reviews....

... Taylor Dinerman comments on the usual threat by the President to veto an appropriations bill over a space funding shortfall: The veto threat - The Space Review - Aug.2.04....

... The singer and songwriter Tish Munton posts this mp3 that begins with a clip of her tribute song for Challenger called "Reach Out for the Stars." (via Fred Becker.)

Space business news... Satellite TV is booming and taking customers away from cable according to this article in today's Wall Street Journal: Cable Trouble: Subscriber Growth Stalls As Satellite TV Soars - WSJ - Aug.4.04 (paid subscription required). The satellite companies offer lower prices, all digital transmissions, and generally better service. Despite cable's advantage of higher bandwidth, bad service and high (and always getting higher) prices make Sat TV very appealing.

The Sat TV providers are now joining with telephone companies to offer DSL broadband. This will ameliorate the advantages cable has of including broadband with their digital TV packages..

.. And Sat Radio is also doing well: Satellite radio captures ears of millions - CNN.com - Aug.3.04

Criticism of human spaceflight becoming obsolete... In an article as surprising as a Dog Bites Man new flash, Prof. James Van Allen wrote yet another article recently that criticized human spaceflight, something he has been doing since the start of the space age. Sam Dinkin gives a good rebuttal in Human spaceflight is inevitable - The Space Review - Aug.4.04.

Several months ago I contacted Prof. Van Allen to ask whether the new generation of manned suborbital vehicles would offer new possibilities for science. While I knew of his prejudice against human spaceflight, I hoped he would rise above a knee-jerk response and make some effort to think objectively about the possibilities that will come with the availability of frequent reflights and much lower launch costs. He was one of the first to do sounding rocket flights in the post W.W.II era and would certainly have an interesting perspective if he took the time to think about these new technologies.

Unfortunately, instead of a thoughtful response, he just sent a brief reflexive rejection of humans on board and made no comments on these other capabilities:

"I am among the many admirers of Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne development and consider it an inspiring contribution to aerospace engineering.

"But I regret to tell you that I am not able to suggest any example of how a human passenger on a suborbital flight could perform scientific observations or on-board experiments that could not be much better performed with automated/commandable equipment on unmanned rockets. Nor have I learned of any such credible suggestions by anyone else."

After receiving this message I informed my wife, who does microbiology research at NIH, that there is no reason she needs to go to her laboratory anymore since automated equipment can perform her job much better than she does. (If having a pilot or scientist on board to monitor and control an experiment is so horrible, the instruments could be sealed from their flawed interference.)

The public likes to think of scientists as having a Spock-like dedication to objective, rational, and fair analysis of issues put before them, even when new information and ideas might show prior statements to be false. However, that's as fictional as the planet Vulcan. Scientists are no more or less open minded than any other group of people and hate to admit they are wrong just as much as anyone else.

Thankfully, we are entering an era of private human spaceflight in which funding will come from investors and from the recycling of profits made from businesses like space tourism. We won't have to get funding from a government that is easily swayed by prestigious scientists who bear impressive credentials but also impenetrable biases.


August.3.2004 Space News

The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday August 3, 2004: 7-8:15pm Pacific Time - "features returning Space Show guest Robert Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman is an award winning science writer and space historian, and author of the new best selling book, 'LEAVING EARTH: Space Stations, Rival Superpower, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel.'..."

Sunday, July 18, 2004, 6:00-7:30pm Pacific Time - "features returning guest Ed Wright, founder of X-Rocket LLC. Ed Wright of X-Rocket (Experimental Rocket Racing Organization) first proposed the rocket racing concept to follow the example set by the airplane racing events in the pre-WW II era that had a big impact on advancing aviation technology. Rocket racing events would consist of suborbital manned rocket vehicles that would compete in vertical drag races. The company is not a hardware developer, instead it is a spaceflight services company with the goal of making commercial human spaceflight safe, routine, and affordable by offering training and education to industry, government, and the general public..."

Recent shows in the archive:

Hear the SpaceShow programs live at KKNW, 1150 AM in Seattle, and on line at www.live365.com/stations/dlivingston?site=dlivingston.

Collectibles news... Get a head bobbing astronaut doll while they last: Astronauts to bobble: Renowned test pilots all dolled up - L.A. Daily News - Antelope Valley - Aug.2.04 ...

... Britains to help find meteorites: Public invited to hunt meteorites - BBC - Aug.3.04.

News briefs... A good survey of the hobby rocket regulation situation: Model rockets just a hobby, or terror threat? - Chicago Sun-Times - Aug.2.04...

... The NASA Marsoweb site lets visitors look for good landing sites on Mars: Website Lets Users Scout the Red Planet from Home - Space.com - Aug.2.04...

... CSI argues that we can go back to the Moon already with a Soyuz:
Soyuz to the Moon? by Jeff Foust - The Space Review - Aug.2.04 * Lunar Express SM System Lunar Mission - CSI ...

... Space business is in a bind: A Space Industry in Crisis - Deutsche Welle - July.31.04...

... The universe loves a good vibration: Songs of the Galaxies, and What They Mean - The New York Times - Aug.3.04


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