Space past and future ...
Alan Boyle reflects on the past year in space: Back
to the future frontier: The year in space: 2004 marked by success
and stress - MSNBC - Dec.28.04 while Mark Whittington makes
related predictions - Curmudgeons Corner - Dec.30.0.
News briefs... Students
will have the opportunity to build copies of the SS1: Incredible
Opportunity!! Students and Young Professionals Wanted for the
Chance of a Lifetime - Space Race News! - Dec.30.04 ...
... The FAA/AST has added
an education related section to its web site: Commercial
Space Transportation - FAA / AST - Education...
... Amateur astronomers
once again show they are capable of leading edge research: Amateurs
Detect Possible Exoplanet Ring-like Structure - Sky and Telescope
- Dec.29.04 ...
... Alan Boyle posts satellite
pictures of the tsunami: Tsunami
seen from space - CosmicLog/MSNBC - Dec.30.04 ...
... Philip Corneille has
built a big collection of Mars exploration related materials
and is adding more every day at Mars
Sunday January 2, 2005, 12:00-1:30 PM Pacific Time - features
Peter Kokh, President of The
Ed.: Peter has long been a proponent of lunar settlement
and edits the Moon
Miners' Manifesto periodical, which discusses various
practical aspects of building communities on the Moon. Seems
like every time I come up with a cool idea for a lunar manufactured
product (e.g. glass artwork made from lunar materials) or
lunar architecture (e.g. light-piping the sun into living
quarters), he has already thought of it long ago and worked
out the details.
On Tuesday, Dec. 28th, David interviewed Tom
Olson of the Colony
Fund about space development during 2004 and the possibilities
Also, he recently interviewed Richard
Westfall of Galactic
Mining Industries about "tele-possession" of
asteroids and lunar sites via remotely controlled exploration
News briefs... MP3s are
available for the winning songs in the 2004 Mars Society space
song contest: Roget
de Lisle finalists ...
... Lots of info regarding
"living off the land" in space: Cosmochemistry
and Human Exploration by G. Jeffrey Taylor ...
... A reporter finds space
camp more fun than he expected: Surviving
Space Camp - Wired - Jan.05 issue ...
... Space enabled businesses
show some growth and progress: Satellite
radio sees subscriber growth - CNET - Dec.27.04 * Clawing
back demand for satellites - BBC - Dec.26.04 ...
... The EXPLORE:
Space Travel Dictionary and Encyclopedia site looks like
a good addition to online
... Here's a list of major
space developments in 2004: Space
awards - Curmudgeons Corner - Dec.26.04
News briefs... The prospects
look poor for the student satellites placed on the first Delta
IV Heavy launch:
... The Music2Titan
songs placed on the Huygens
probe, which will enter the atmosphere of Titan in January,
have now been released to the public. Samples can be heard here.
One of the songs is available for free but you have to register
with iTunes to access it and to buy the other three...
... A near miss occurred
before we even knew it was coming: Small Asteroid Passes Between
Satellites and Earth - Space.com - Dec.22.04. More on Current
Impact Risks and NEO
Earth Close Approaches at NASA
- JPL Near Earth Object Program. (Link via C. Pooley)...
... Mars just gets more
interesting all the time: Mars
Express finds evidence of active volcanism - spacetoday.net
... While those
living in urban and suburban areas have DSL or cable
broadband, satellite broadband is currently the
best option for those in rural areas. The company
uses a Hughes DIRECTWAY satellite [now HughesNet]
to explicitly target agricultural/rural market:
Connecting Rural U.S. to Internet - SkyREPORT.com
... While commercial satellite
builders and launchers still struggle with a weak market, ,
it's been a great year for services enabled by satellites: 12
Days of a Satellite Christmas - A Look Back at 2004 - SkyREPORT.com
... Ken Schweitzer wrote
to tell me he has revamped the SpaceInvestor.com
web site. It will let start-ups and smaller companies "increase
their exposure to the investment and business community through
showcasing their company's profile." ...
... I hope projects like
will rekindle interest by young people in space development,
and in science and engineering in general: Rediscovering
the final frontier: A new exhibit at Tampa's Museum of Science
and Industry lets visitors explore space without leaving the
ground. - St. Petersburg Times - Dec.23.04
SciTech news ... Tests
of the UrbanAero
prototype vehicle have been successful according to news
posted recently on their website. No new pictures or videos
but there is this X-Hawk
brochure (pdf ) ...
... Maybe the X-Hawk will
use a parachute as a safety backup: Huge
parachute designed to save crashing planes - CNN.com - Dec22.04
Space history news ... An
avid space history buff, John Putorack, builds his own Block
I Apollo Guidance Computer Replica (link via NASA
Watch). More links to computer and other Apollo equipment
projects and information in the Apollo
Grahn, a Swedish space history buff, posts a report on Luna
3 - the first view of the moon's far side. See also Don
P. Mitchell's collection of .Soviet
Moon Images and his history of The
Soviet Exploration of Venus...
... As I suspected, one
historian often seen commenting in the press on any and all
space matters doesn't actually know very much about space matters:
Grinch - The Space Review - Dec.20.04
News briefs ... Via the
big at Bigelow Aerospace - The Space Review - Dec.20.04,
I remembered this interesting list of potential products for
in space manufacture: Beyond
the Satellites: Stimulating a New Wave of Commercial Space Development
-Bigelow Aerospac/Patton Boggs - Dec.15.00 - list of products
for in space manufacture ...
... Via Ken Murphy I heard
im Mond, one of the first attempts at a realistic
sci-fi space movie, is now available on DVD: Amazon.com:
DVD: Woman in the Moon (1931) * Kino
Film: Woman in the Moon ...
... CSA has put together
a nice educational site on satellites and their benefits to
from Above: Satellites in Our Lives - California Space Authority
Tuesday Dec. 21, 2004, 7:30-8:30 pm (Pacific Time) - The
show features John Garvey, CEO of Garvey
Spacecraft Corporation. John is often mentioned in the
Rocketry News section here with regard to various
experimental rocketry projects, especially those in collaboration
with students at Cal
State Long Beach.
Sunday Dec. 26, 2004, 7-8:15 pm (Pacific Time) - This show
features "Richard Westfall regarding telepossession of
extraterrestrial resources with leveraged financing of commercial
SciTech news ... This
sounds like a material worthy of the description "futuristic":
Their Metal [Metal Rubber] - Technology Review - Dec.18.04
... Here's a photo of a
hot looking high performance hybrid sports car: The
Future of the Car: Plug-In Hybrids? - Alternative Energy Blog
- Alt-Energy.org - Dec.17.04....
... And this article -
the future is hybrid - Economist/FuelCellWorks - Dec.17.04
- discusses "plug-in hybrids", which allow for pure
battery power for short distance commuting. Sounds like a great
intermediate system. The following generation could then go
to either to fuel cells or long capacity batteries if such are
Space music news ... I
recently received a very nice CD made by Janet
Robbins and titled Carrying the Bag of Hearts/Interpreting
the Birth of Stars Vol. 1. (Here are some mp3
samples). I've enjoyed meditative styles of music ever since
I first heard the radio program Hearts
of Space while living in the Bay area back in the 1970s.
Her first track is entitled At the Heart of a Spiral Galaxy
(M51's close encounter) and was inspired by the Whirlpool
Galaxy's interaction with the companion galaxy, NGC 5195.
An earlier album title All The Worlds was released in
... At a somewhat lower
plane of musical space travel, the soundtrack to the Trekkies
2 documentry has been released: Amazon.
News briefs... The Space
Station Sim developers are looking for people to test their
Videogames Seeks Game Testers for SpaceStationSIM Game- i-Newswire.com
... Here's a huge list
of references dealing with lunar development [collected by Ken
Bibliography - The Return To The Moon Board ...
... Alan Boyle - 101
years of flight - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Dec.17.04 - and Rand
Simberg - A
Century And A Year - Transterrestrial Musings - Dec.17.04
- remembered the significance of December 17th to both aeronautics
... VOA looks at the B612
Foundation and its campaign to develop the technology needed
to save Earth someday: Former
Astronaut, Engineers Hope to Deflect Asteroid - VOA News - Dec.17.04...
... Boeing's Connexion
satellite broadband service to airline passengers may start
streaming TV as well: Boeing
casts eyes on live TV over Connexion service - InfoWorld- Dec.17.04
SciTech briefs... Maybe
some kids like the fact that occasionally their birthday comes
on a Saturday: Remaking
the calendar - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Dec.17.04
... The very light jet
(VLJ) Eclipse gets the first
set of flight engines of the type with which it will go
into production and the company holds a roll
out of the Eclipse 500 test aircraft.
News briefs ... NASA does
in fact seem to be funding lunar resource extraction research
more vigorously these days. Here's one such interesting project:
man makes moon magic - News24.com - Dec.14.04 (via Rand
Simberg) * British
Titanium plc (BTi)to receive US$14.32M funding from NASA to
deliver a process to produce oxygen on the moon from lunar regolith.
- BritishTitanium/i-newswire - Dec.16.04
... The effort to save
the decaying Saturn in Huntsville needs more funding: Save
the Saturn effort needs a boost: Space Center must get 700 more
tag orders by Jan. 31 - Huntsville Times - Dec.16.04 ...
... Maybe AARP
will start negotiating special discounts for senior space travelers:
proves age is no barrier to space records - Seattle PI - Dec.16.04
Space Adventures' Client Sets Guinness World Record 80 year-old
Seattle resident becomes world's oldest woman to experience
zero-gravity - SpaceAdventures - Nov.29.04 ...
... Heavy metal comes crashing
into Star Trek at Warp
11. Check out the rave
Space tracking via the Web...
Tracking of various activities via satellites and the Web is
becoming more and more common. Following
migratory animals is one common example. Here are
a couple of other interesting tracking projects I came across
Near space competition to space...
High altitude platforms like that flown by Sanswire
Networks may eat into some of the comsat business: Not
quite out of this world: After years of hype, a new, cheaper
way to blanket cities with wireless coverage may finally be
about to get off the ground - Economist.com - Dec.2.04.
via satellite has not caught on except for remote
areas, which won't be served by the floating platforms anyway.
Satellite TV and radio are quite economical and not threatened
at all by these platforms. So I don't think these and other
space platforms will have much impact on the satellite
SciTech news briefs...
Maybe there will someday be a 100 meter sprint race between
Honda's robot ( Honda
Worldwide | HDTV | ASIMO (Research Model) - Running at 3km/h
robot learns to run - New Scientist - Dec.16.04) and Sony's
First Running Humanoid Robot - Sony - Dec.13.03 * 'Running'
Robot Gets Off Ground - Wired - Dec.18.03)...
... From Alan Boyle comes
news - Flight
plan for the future - Cosmic Log/MSNBC - Dec.15.04 - that
NASA and other agencies are making progress at developing an
air control system that will allow "greater use of small-scale
aviation systems". These can range from very light jets
(VLJ) such as the Eclipse
to personal flying vehicles such as the Skycar.
More info at Next
Generation Air Transportation System : Joint Planning &
It was a dark and sand-stormy night
on Mars ... You have another chance to win fame and
glory for your sci-fi short story writing skills by entering
Clarke-Bradbury Science Fiction Competition for 2005. The
deadline is February 25, 2005. More info at A
chance to imagine the future - ESA - Dec.13.04.
Space shelter... Michael
Huang has opened the web site - Spaceflight
or Extinction - to provide resources regarding the topic
of space as a place for safekeeping of humanity and civilization
in case of an earth-wide catastrophe.
See also his recent article - Saganís
rationale for human spaceflight - The Space Review - Nov.8.04.
More lunar hydrogen... With
regard to hydrogen on the Moon (see earlier
item), Rand Simberg says water is very much the preferable
Little Too Optimistic - Transterrestrial Musings - Dec.15.04.
Even if there is no ice on the Moon, though, I would be astonished
if analysis showed that it costs more to make water from local
hydrogen and oxygen than to bring it from earth.
In situ resource exploitation (for both the Moon and Mars)
is a complicated subject that NASA should have been studying
intensely for years but has not. Maybe with the VSE
initiative, it will finally become a high priority for the agency.
There is also the obvious need to put a rover on one of the
poles to find out exactly what form the hydrogen is in.
... Alan Boyle reports on high-altitude
alternatives to satellites: Near
space gets nearer - MSNBC - Dec.14.04. I've frequently mentioned
the group JP Aerospace,
which is pursuing both near and far space projects with an interesting
pro/am organizational approach. ...
...If you are interested
in commercial spaceflight, you might want to consider attending
Commercial Space Transportation Conference in February,
SciTech brief... OK, we
can now start the countdown to a Michael
Crichton type book/movie about the approaching menace of
meat-eating, self-replicating robots: Ecobot
Eats Dead Flies for Fuel - Wired News - Dec.15.04. (Another
good reason to flee to space...)
Space sim discount... This
Christmas give yourself a cool space
The Wings of Mercury Price Break
New Price for realistic spacecraft simulation
December 14, 2004. Brick, NJ - Pyramid Design has announce
an across the board price reduction for its award-winning
simulation product, A-OK! The Wings of Mercury.
A-OK! The Wings
of Mercury is now priced at $29.95 (was $59.95) and $14.95
(was $29.95) for an upgrade from 2.x. A demo version, which
can be upgraded to a full version right from the program,
is available for download at the A-OK! WoM web site. (www.pyramiddesign.us/aokwom).
Educational institutions can get a site license for $199.95
A-OK! The Wings of Mercury simulates America's first spacecraft,
Project Mercury, and opens a new frontier in computer simulations.
The operation of every gauge, light and switch in the spacecraft
is simulated to a high degree of fidelity. So accurate are
the spacecraft systems that users consult reproductions of
the actual flight documentation used by the Mercury astronauts.
The simulator can generate hundreds of failure scenarios that
require split-second decisions to survive.
A-OK! The Wings of Mercury ships with A-OK! Mission Control
Center, an application that simulates the consoles at Mercury
A-OK! The Wings of Mercury also ships with a suite of tools
that allows users to edit the launch and landing areas, calculate
retrofire and ground station contact times and other mission-critical
The demo version is restricted to sub-orbital, non-networked
simulations and does not allow the use of the A-OK! Tool Kit.
In addition, to removing these restrictions, registered users
will be entitled to free updates from version 3.0 to 3.9 and
priority in bug reporting and follow-up.
News briefs ... The VSE
will not cost $1 Trillion and it is not a humans-to-Mars program
(except as a very long term goal) but it's tough to get that
message across to the press according to Dwayne Day:Old
myths never die, they just (sorta) fade away - The Space Review
- Dec.13.04 ...
... Some people, though,
consider Mars to be the only worthwhile goal in space: Mars:
the only goal for humanity - The Space Review - Dec.13.04...
... A distinguished Senator
once seriously proposed making Mars the joint goal of the US
and USSR: The
Senator from Hawaii - The Space Review - Dec.13.04...
... More about radiation
protection via magnetic fields: Riding
in Magnetic Bubbles - Astrobiology Magazine - Dec.12.04
... The SpaceShipOne generated
a high paying collectible: "SpaceShip-flown
rocket to be auctioned" - collectSPACE - Dec.13.04
... Robert Klieinberger's
Rocket & Rover Co., Inc. (non-flash
site) company is offering high school and college students
the chance to fly payloads on the firm's sounding rockets: Opportunity
for a School to Build a Payload - CSA (CSA): - Dec.13.04.
Here is brochure
(pdf) about the company's rocketry educational programs.
... So maybe life started
on Mars and then got transported to Earth via a rocket blasted
off the planet by an asteroid impact, or vice versa: Life-Swapping
Scenarios for Earth and Mars - Space.com - Dec.13.04 ...
is the valuable thing... I've occasionally heard
it said that while the Lunar
Prospector definitely detected hydrogen that doesn't necessarily
mean that the hydrogen is in water ice. This can leave the impression
that it would be a big disappointment if the hydrogen signal
was not from water. But as Alan Binder, leader of the Lunar
Prospector project, indicates in this article - Lunar
Ice: 'Cold Traps' Eyed for Exploration - Space.com - Dec.14.04
- it's not a big deal if there is no water.
Oxides are very abundant in the lunar
regolith. So you can always combine oxygen, which you will
be extracting for air to breath anyway, with extracted hydrogen
to make water (or to use for rocket propulsion).
"Itís totally irrelevant what form the hydrogen is inÖwhether
itís solar wind implanted hydrogen or whether it is water.
We just have to know what equipment to take. Thatís because
you harvest solar wind hydrogen one way and you harvest the
water ice another way. Itís still good news," Binder explained.
"In both cases, itís the hydrogen that is the valuable thing,"
Binder concluded, "because thereís plenty of oxygen around.
We know that you can crack the rocks and get the metal and
SciTech brief... I suggested
that hybrid autos should be marketed on the basis of performance
rather than fuel saving. This article - Rivals
Join To Develop Hybrid-Car Technology: DaimlerChrysler, GM Had
Spurned Gas-Electric Idea - Washington Post - Dec.14.04
- indicates this may become the standard approach. An industry
analyst states, "Automakers are shifting their marketing
strategy away from being 'green' towards 'guilt-free performance.'
We believe this will propel hybrid technology into the mass
... The site Tech-novel-gy
offers news and resources on cool new technologies, both current
and in a sci-fi future.
The Thursday Dec. 14, 2004, 7:30-8:30PM Pacific Time- "Scott
Sullivan, author of 'Virtual LM' and 'Virtual Apollo' discusses
these books with Space Show listeners."
The Tuesday Dec. 16, 2004, 7-8:15PM Pacific Time- "Robert
Zimmerman returns for this special program to examine the
pending Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 legislation
waiting for the President's signature. "
Sunday December 19, 2004, 12:00-1:30 PM Pacific Time - "Professor
Joanne Gabrynowicz provides us with a current space law update."
Sunday December 19, 2004, 5:00-1:30 PM Pacific Time - "Frank
Sietzen returns for this special and timely space program
A recent addition to the archive includes David
Criswell, a well known proponent of solar energy delivered
via the Moon.
News briefs ... Here is
more info on the student nanosats that will ride piggyback on
the first Delta 4 launch: The
DemoSat/Nanosat-2 payload - Spaceflight Now - Dec.1.04...
... The first launch attempt,
however, was canceled. You can follow the status of the preparations
for the next launch attempt at Spaceflight
Now and you can watch the launch via the webcast at Delta
IV Heavy Demonstration Launch Live Webcast...
... Speaking of amateur
satellites, check out the updated Amateur
Satellite Resource Guide - amsat.org (pdf) ...
... The food supply problems
on the ISS - No
Snacks in Space - NASA Watch - Dec.10.04 - inspired Tom
Hill to suggest a new attraction for space tourists: The
ISS Diet ...
... Aviation Week gives
an extensive overview of the space exploration options that
NASA must choose from in the next few years:
Outer Solar System Beckons, but Moon/Mars Focus Could Slow Exploration
There - Aviation Week - Dec.12.04 ...
... The choices will apparently
be made by a new administrator: Reports:
O'Keefe resignation imminent - spacetoday.net - Dec.12.04
SciTech briefs... I recently
mentioned a NY
Times article about a super high resolution, large format
Huset sent me a link to the web site of Clifford
Ross, the inventor of the camera, where you can find more
information about the camera.
There are also gallery pages filled with his amazing photographs...
... Check out the status
of the development of LVJ (Very Light Jets), which may lead
to faster travel via air taxi services from small, local airports:
The Works - Aviation Int. News/Eclipse Aviation - Dec.1.04
Space history book sale... Brian
Stephenson at ApolloSpaceBooks.com
tells me that he is looking to sell the remaining 4000 copies
(out of a printing of 50,000) of Man's Greatest Adventure!
The book, which includes a forward by James Lovell, Commander
of Apollo 13, is described as a "rare, commemorative, photo-filled
coffee table styled reference book chronicling the Apollo Missions
7 through 17."
Brian wants to sell the entire inventory in bulk quantities
and will offer a "substantially discounted price."
He suggests the books would offer "excellent fund-raisers
for schools, clubs, etc."
Sci-fi comes true (occasionally)...
This article - Where
Science, Fiction Meet: A Seattle museum is Paul Allen's homage
to a genre that evolved from 'pulp' into literature, and influenced
real discovery along the way. - LA Times - Dec.10.04 - starts
off with this nice observation:
In 1947, Robert A. Heinlein published a novel called "Rocket
Ship Galileo," about a group of whiz kids who build their
own ship and fly into space.
This summer, 57 years after the book, SpaceShipOne was launched
from the Mojave Desert, becoming the first manned spaceflight
by private citizens. The accomplishment capped a remarkable
story about a group of whizzes who decided one day to build
their own ship and fly into space.
News briefs ... NASA's
booklet on spinoffs
from space development is now available
... Looks like Orbital
Recovery has gotten yet another customer for its space tug
tank problem jeopardizes satellite - spacetoday.net - Dec.10.04
... Europe decides to build
its own GPS system: Europe
presses ahead on sat-nav - BBC - Dec.10.04 ...
... Launching from the
Esrange Facility in
northern Sweden has its challenges: Into
space from the icy-cold Arctic - ESA - Dec.10.04 ...
... Sound like just about
everything you could possibly want to know about Apollo 17 is
available in the new DVD set from Spacecraft Films: "Apollo
17: End of the Beginning" - collectSPACE - Dec.10.04
A snazzy documentary about Robert Zubrin and "his struggle
to get the first human mission to Mars off the ground"
will be released in 2005: The
Mars Underground - Ocule Entertainment (Via NASA
Watch). Check out the slick trailer.
The web page for the move says that it was
"S[s]hot entirely in breathtaking High Definition (HD)
and directed by accomplished documentarian, Scott J. Gill
(Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy, The Blood Earth), THE
MARS UNDERGROUND brings to life Dr. Zubrinís vision, known
as "Mars Direct", through startling 3-D CGI animation of the
launch, voyage and landing of spacecraft, as well as glimpses
into the future of manís reign on Mars...."
Hubble in trouble - carbon-based units
to the rescue... According to a National Academy
of Science study - Space
Shuttle Should Conduct Final Servicing Mission To Hubble Space
Telescope - National Academies - Dec.8.04 - humans beat
robots when it comes to repairing the Hubble spacecraft. More
links at Panel
recommends shuttle Hubble servicing mission - spacetoday.net
News briefs ... Programmers
can show off their skills in this contest: Mars
Rescue Mission Challenge - Dr. Dobb's Journal and Frank BuŖ...
McCall is looking for a place to display his wonderful space
art needs a down-to-earth home: Valley's [Robert] McCall seeks
museum for his works - Arizona Republic - Dec.9.04...
... Canadians will soon
be able to enjoy satellite radio: For
Satellite Radio Fans, Northern Exposure - NY Times - Dec.9.04...
... I would not call them
tourists if the government chooses who goes and pays for the
trips, but at least some Koreans will have a chance to go to
Space Tourist Hopefuls to Be Selected by May - The Korea Times
- Dec.9.04 ...
... This camera sound cool
but I wish there was more about how it works: Tom
Swift's New Camera, Ready for Space and Spies - NY Times - Dec.9.04.
Hubble trouble ... I certainly
would like to see the Hubble observatory fixed but not if it
costs so much that the repair mission depletes funds essential
for making progress on the VSE:
fix for Hubble challenged: New report questions cost, timeliness
of mission - MSNBC - Dec.6.04 * Study
critical of robotic Hubble repair - spacetoday.net - Dec.7.04.
Perhaps the two goals are not incompatable. I believe a high
priority for the VSE program should be close cooperation with
innovative space entrepreneurs like Bigelow
Aerospace. It's possible that technology developed by Bigelow
could make a mission like the Hubble repair feasible: How
a Ďsafe havení could help save Hubble: Study suggests launching
module - by Jim Oberg - MSNBC - Dec.7.04.
If a repair mission isn't practical then I would argue that
NASA should simply pay for Orbital
Recovery to send a tug to push Hubble to an orbit high enough
where the spacecraft can remain safe until it someday becomes
practical to bring the telescope back to earth for display in
News briefs ... The World
Space Culture Conference on 12-27 September, 2005 in London,
England will be "a celebration of the diversity of attitudes
and approaches to space exploration across cultures."...
... Florida orange growers
discover spysats: Satellite
may eye Brazil citrus crop: Officials: Photos give U.S. glimpse
of competition - Florida Today - Dec.7.04...
... Student satellite
builders finally find a ride to space: New
Delta 4 ready for 1st flight: Rocket to give ride to students'
science satellites - Florida Today - Dec.7.04.
SciTech brief... Using
hydrogen produced by solar power as a battery seems like a good
to Fuel Hydrogen Future - Wired News - Dec.7.04. The article
talks about using home-produced hydrogen for cars but it could
also be stored to produce heating and electrical power at home
during nights or on cloudy days.
The Tuesday Dec. 7, 2004, 7-8:15PM Pacific Time- the Space
Show features Dr. David Criswell who will "discuss space
solar power and lots more."
Sunday December 12, 2004, 12:00-1:30 PM Pacific Time - "Ann
Parson, author of "The Proteus Effect: Stem Cells and Their
Promise for Medicine" joins for a program focusing on the
importanc of stem cell research."
Recent additions to the archive include Robert
Zimmerman, author and space historian, and Frank
White, author of "The Overview Effect" and the new book,
Visions of low cost space exploration...
Criticisms of the President's space exploration
initiative, like those in this
article and in this
editorial, center around the assumption that significant
increases in NASA funding will be required to pay for it.
by Jim Oberg and Dwayne Day have explained, however, how the
huge numbers commonly cited for the VSE
(Vision for Space Exploration) are bogus and wildly exaggerated.
In fact, it's quite possible to carry out a robust deep space
exploration program with no significant funding boosts. First
of all, several billion dollars will be freed up by discontinuing
the shuttle program and by completing the ISS construction.
Further savings will occur if the agency works closely with
innovative private space developers like Bigelow
Aerospace and SpaceX
that are highly motivated to bring down the costs of space development.
Sam Dinkin notes in the latest Space
Review that significant reductions in the price for sending
payloads to the Moon are already within reach: A
lunar vision at $2,000/kg by Sam Dinkin - The Space Review -
However, NASA's poor reputation for cost control and the widely
held view that anything associated with space is unavoidably
gigantically expensive make it difficult to gain support and
enthusiasm for the initiative beyond the aerospace industry
and the space advocacy community.
To gain greater political support for the VSE, I would suggest
the following actions by the administration:
- Make it clear and explicit that the VSE will be carried
out within a NASA budget that expands only to match inflation.
- Explicitly tie VSE program development to progress in reducing
launch costs. For example, human missions to the Moon would
not begin until launch costs to LEO are reduced to, say, $2000
per kg. Human missions to Mars would not begin until transport
costs to reach the Moon are reduced to $2000 per kg.
Calculation of such costs should include hardware development
and not just operational expenses.
- Announce that no new heavy lift vehicle project will be
started. By relying on in-orbit assembly, the currently available
launchers can provide all the hardware capabilities needed
to fulfill the VSE goals of lunar bases, manned Mars missions,
etc. (E.g. see Dennis
Wingo's book Moonrush
in which he lays out such a scheme.)
A $10-15 Billion dollar heavy lift project would play right
into the hands of critics who will rightfully say that NASA
just wants yet another huge hardware project to support its
- Announce that in addition to scientific exploration, an
equally important goal of the program is the development of
practical technologies to exploit the resources of space,
such as space solar energy and platinum group metals on the
Moon (see Wingo's book for an extensive discussion of mining
While there will never be unanimous support for government
supported space exploration and development, if the public perceives
that real and significant progress is being made at the current
budget level (which is modest relative to the total budget and
GDP), I think the support will be strong enough to sustain the
program over many years and many administrations.
SEDS gets political...
The Students for
Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) plans to create
a "subgroup within SEDS called the Nation Action Network
(NAN), meant to be the 'political arm' of SEDS": Calling
all students - Space Politics - Dec.5.04.
If you are interested in participating, check out the chat
room access to the SEDS
Executive Board Online Meeting on Tuesday, December 7, at
News briefs ... The first
authorized biography of the first man on the Moon will go on
sale next fall: "Unveiling
the man with that famous step" - collectSPACE - Dec.4.04...
... On your next visit
to the Kennedy Space Center, you can arrange to attend a lunch
with an astronaut:
... Ron Dantowitz, known
here for his photographs
of shuttles in orbit and the ISS taken from the ground
with amateur telescopes, gets some recognition for his education
scientist' on a mission - Boston.com - Dec.5.04...
... High power rocketry
is taking off in India: Bangalore
boys to launch self-made rocket - HindustanTimes - Dec.1.04
boys to launch rocket - The Hindu News - Dec.1.04...
... More about the politics
that delivered funding for NASA's exploration programs: DeLay's
Push Helps Deliver NASA Funds - Washington Post - Dec.6.04
Space background noise...
The set of essays at The
American Enterprise: The Sober Realities of Manned Space Flight
provides various perspectives on space exploration and development.
I agree with some points made and disagree with others.
(Although I often like Easterbrook's writings on social and
economic topics, when it comes to space I find that he states
his views as if they were absolute truths when in fact almost
every point he makes is either plain wrong, highly disputable,
NASA has now obtained the funding needed to initiate the President's
Vision for Space Exploration
(VSE). Public debate over the program and over NASA's management
of it will be contentious and endless. Though criticisms by
"opinion makers" may help to sway public interest
and support away from this program, I've become less and less
interested what is said about space, especially about
government space programs.
What I find far more compelling and encouraging is what is
actually being accomplished by the growing wave of private
space projects. As long as Paul Allen, Elon Musk, Robert Bigelow,
and other wealthy space
developers continue to put money into their own visions
of space development, real progress is going to be made.
While I certainly hope the VSE becomes a great success, it
looks increasingly likely that humanity's expansion into space
will start to happen in the next couple of decades regardless.
Climbing tourism ... In
response to the recent discussions here about space tourism,
HS reader B. Burners sent a pointer
to this National
Geographic article about Mt. Everest. Despite the serious
dangers, a growing number of people are paying big sums of money
to climb to the top of the highest mountain on earth. Fortunately,
the Sherpa guides are outside the reach of US government regulators
and liability lawyers.
News briefs ... The question
of whether there was ever liquid water on the surface of Mars
seems to have been settled in the positive. Now the big question
is whether there was ever anything swimming around in that water:
Proof of Ancient Water on Mars, Researchers Consider Life's
Chances - Space.com - Dec.2.04 (Of course, if there was
then the bigger question is whether it still is alive in the
... A satellite plays dead
for awhile and then gets back to work: Intelsat
resurrects IA-7 - spacetoday.net - Dec.3.04
SciTech brief... Flying
just like a bird is the goal of ornithopter builders.
Check out the cool videos
of a model ornithopter in flight and a ground test of a manned
Professor James DeLaurier at the University of Toronto plans
a manned test flight of an ornithopter on December 6th: Canadian
Inventor Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's Original Ornithopter
Design Shoots for the 2006 Italian Olympics - PR Web - Dec.2.04.
are available at the The
Ornithopter Zone. More ornithopter
links in the SciTech
... Here's a very informative
article on the status of holography and why we probably will
have to wait many more years to see Princess Leia projected
in 3-D: O
Hologram, Where Art Thou? - Why holograms look so cool in the
movies and so lame in real life. By Paul Boutin - Slate - Dec.2.04
Songs for Titan... I have
mentioned the Music2Titan
project a few times here. Here is a recent press release issued
as the time approaches for the Huygens probe to fly into Titan's
Project Brings Music
to the Furthest Depths of Space Ever
Project Marks the First Time A Sign of
Human Life Travelled
and Landed to These Depths of the Universe
PARIS - November 15, 2004 - In a collaborative effort between
renowned composer, musician and humanitarian, Julian Civange,
and the European Space Agency (ESA), four songs, representing
the first signs of humanity, will arrive on Titan, the major
moon of Saturn, aboard the Huygens probe, sent to study the
origins of life and possibly forms of extra-terrestrial life.
The European Huygens spacecraft will arrive on Titan, Saturn's
main moon, on January 14, 2005 after a long voyage of seven
years and nearly four billion kilometres. While the mission
is focused on studying the origins of life, the Music2Titan
project will for the first time offer a glimpse of mankind
to the furthest reaches of space.
"Music2Titan reflects a wish to highlight mankind's
existence in the universe through music and to familiarize
people with the spatial exodus and possible existence of extraterrestrial
life," said Julien Civange, producer, musician and initiator
of Music2Titan. "It also serves as a way to offer people
hope for the future and to make music travel beyond normal
Music, The Sound
Paintings of Space
At the request of the ESA, four pieces of music "made
on earth" were composed by the French musicians Julien
Civange and Louis Haťri, and were put on board the Huygens
probe in 1997. The ESA hoped that these pieces of music would
arouse the interest of the general public about this great
adventure, and leave a trace of humankind in the unknown.
The four pieces of music lasting a total of 14 minutes are
respectively called "Lalala", "Bald James Deans",
"Hot Time", and "No Love" and will be
available over the Internet, to the public on the 21st December
through an original distribution plan through a major U.S.-based
online music service.
Mission: A Journey to the Origins of Life
On 15th October 1997, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft launched
as a coordinated effort between NASA, the ESA and the Italian
Space Agency (ISA), beginning a mission to explore Saturn,
its rings, its satellites, and above all Titan, the largest
and most mysterious of its moons. Huygens will detach from
Cassini at the end of December to dive into the atmosphere
of Titan, which it will reach on January 14, 2005 after seven
years and nearly four billion kilometres.
From there, a system of sophisticated instruments will provide
scientists with vital data to help understand this mysterious
region. As the only moon in the solar system with its own
atmosphere, Titan is the best place to study "primordial
soup", the matter from which life emerged on Earth.
While the public must wait to download and hear the pieces,
Siliwood Music invites you to visit the site www.music2titan.com
where you can directly follow the progress of the mission.
See also this posting at the ESA site: Rockíníroll
heading for Titan - ESA - Dec. 1.04.
News briefs ... The ESA's
SSETI - Student Space Exploration
& Technology Initiative project is making progress towards
the launch next May of a boxed set of three student nanosats:
satellite almost ready for space - ESA - Dec.2.04...
... Via a Mars
Society bulletin comes news that NASA has posted a "classic"
paper on the feasibility of terraforming Mars: On
the Habitability of Mars: An approach to planetary ecosynthesis
- by Averner and MacElroy - 1976 (pdf)...
... In response to the
here about the controversy over the space tourist name,
HS reader B. Freebairn suggests
"argonauts" with the explanation: "The original
argonauts were all volunteers who made an epic journey braving
great dangers in pursuit of adventure, fame and fortune. As
an added bonus they got to visit an island populated entirely
... Enthusiasm grows for
a lunar base: Lunar
Robotic Village, Moon Base Gains International Support - Space.com
... Via Space
Politics comes news of two space
advocacy groups I was not aware of: Americans
For Space and NADC:
The National Aerospace Development Center...
... I recently noted progress
Looks like Globalstar
is also quite alive and kicking: Globalstar
Extends Satellite Data Service to all of Europe and Across the
Atlantic - Globalstar - Dec.1.04.
News briefs ... Lunar meteorite
Finds Moon Rock on Antarctica - NY Times - Nov.30.04...
now has over 100,000 subscribers for its satellite phones: Iridium
Announces Subscriber And Revenue Growth Rates - Iridium - Nov.30.04...
... You are never too old
to enjoy Zero-G: Space
Adventures' Client Sets Guinness World Record: 80 year-old Seattle
resident becomes world's oldest woman to experience zero-gravity
- Space Adventures - Nov.29.2004...
looks to be an interesting new science news site. Check out
the list of science/technology