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Save the Hubble

The Space Log
Space for Everyone - April 2004

April.30.2004 Space News

Who won the space race? There's a certain irony that 35 years after Apollo 11, an American must learn Russian to go to space: Language is tough for space millionaire: Russian is the hardest aspect of American's training - MSNBC/AP - Apr.30.04

April.29.2004 Space News

Space prizes workshop... The NASA 2004 Centennial Challenges Workshop site is now online: NASA Schedules Centennial Challenges Workshop - SpaceRef - Apr.29.04. Ideas for competitions for the Centennial Challenges prize program will be discussed.

Hubble retriever... Dennis Wingo argues that the Orbital Recovery tug can bring the Hubble to the ISS for its upgrade: Rebuttal to Comments by the Houston Chronicle and Robert Zubrin Regarding NASA's Hubble Repair Options - SpaceRef - Apr.29.04.

The super high efficiency of solar electric propulsion allows for such a big change in the observatory's orbit. I hope that we can now stop hearing some space "experts" continuing to proclaim that such a feat violates the laws of phyiscs.

The telescope would move to a higher orbit for its observations and periodically return to the station for maintenance. This would keep the Hubble in operation indefinitely.

Such a mission would seem ideal for NASA. It will save a very valuable and popular scientific facility. Iit will prove that the ISS does in fact provide a useful base for in-space service and assembly. This will in turn, as Dennis argues, obviate the need for development of an expensive heavy lift rocket for the Moon/Mars programs.

Furthermore, nothing could better prove the utility of both unmanned and manned capabilities in space.

The SpaceShow this week:

Sunday, May 2, 2004,12-1:30PM PST - Marianne Dyson, "one of the first ten women to work in NASA Mission Control. Ms. Dyson has her degree in physics and with a lifelong interest in space, she fulfilled one of her many space dreams with her NASA Mission Control position. After working the first five space shuttle flights, she left NASA to raise her children and began sharing her passion for space through writing and speaking. She is the author of the award-wining, Space Station Science, originally published by Scholastic, that is now available in paperback from Windward. Home on the Moon, published by National Geographic, is a must-read for future lunar pioneers. The Space Explorer's Guide to Stars and Galaxies is part of Scholastic's Space University book club (www.scholastic.com/space) series, and comes with a cool science kit..."

Unfortunately, I didn't post a notice in time for the program last night with Ian Randal Strock, founder of the Artemis Project. However, it should be available in the archive soon. Note that recent interviews with Walt Anderson and Robert Zubrin are now archived.

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

News briefs ... Frank Sietzen reports on tough political treading for the President's space initiative: Analysis: No liftoff yet for space plan - UPI - Apr.28.04....

... .Ruth Lubka, author of PUPNIKS: The Story of Two Space Dogs, tells me that Professor Oleg Gazenko, who ran the Russian space biomedical program during the Sputnik days, was given a copy of the book and responded very graciously. "...good-hearted books help children form a healthy attitude towards the world we live in. Let me heartily thank you for remembering these space pioneers and, also, note that there is a memorial plaque at one of the buildings of the Institute of Aviation and Space Medicine in Moscow that commemorates the flight in August 1960 of these outstanding dogs."

April.28.2004 Space News

Space tug progress... Dennis Wingo of Orbital Recovery Corporation reported last week at the Space Access ' 04 meeting on the status of the company and their plans to develop a space tug to save dying comsats. They are lining up investors and ESA funding and also have arranged for hardware contractors. He mentioned that there would soon be coming out several announcements about these deals. Here is one of the first: Dutch Space Agrees to Major Investment in Orbital Recovery Ltd. for the ConeXpress Orbital Life Extension Vehicle - Orbital Recovery - Apr.28.04

Smart manager ... Sven Grahn is a famous space radio enthusiast, a VP at the Swedish Space Corp., and an acquaintance from the days I lived in Sweden. Yesterday he spoke before a Senate panel yesterday about the Smart-I project that he is managing: Testimony of Sven Grahn: Senate Science, Technology, and Space Hearing: International Space Exploration Program - SpaceRef - Apr.28.04.

The spacecraft is using ion propulsion to reach the Moon. This is slow but very efficient way to travel in space. It recently reach a significant milestone: 2000 hours of electric propulsion operations - ESA - Apr.28.04

Updated SEDS... The Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) is showing an updated web site and forums. Add your input to their SEDS Online Poll.

April.27.2004 Space News

Solar sci-fi summer reading... This compilation Cosmic Tales - Adventures in Sol System by T.K.F. Weisskopf - Baen Books includes "All new stories of the conquest of the solar system by: Charles Sheffield, Gregory Benford, John Ringo, James P. Hogan, Wen Spencer, Margaret Ball, Jack McDevitt, Fact & fiction by space scientist Travis Taylor, and more!"

News briefs ... Although if you sum over a 20 year period you still get a mighty big number, it's still much less than the trillion dollar figure thrown around by space initiative critics: Moon-Mars cost estimate is too high: NASA price tag at $229 billion, not $1 trillion - Floridat Today - Apr.26.04 (Note that if the NASA budget remained fixed at its current level, the cumulative value over 20 years would be around $320 billion.)...

... Some relief for rocketeers: Joint Statement on BATF Litigation - NAR/Tripoli - Apr.24.04 (Note that the PAD designation means that rockets would be treated like common industrial systems that are exempt from explosives regulations.)...

... NASA looking further at unmanned systems to rescue the Hubble telescope:
O'Keefe Says Robotic Options for Hubble More Promising than Thought - Space News - Apr.26.04...

... Still lots of new discoveries to made on our moon: Scientists find new Moon mineral - BBC - Apr.27.04

April.21.2004 Space News

Update Pause: I will attend the Space Access ' 04 Conference this week in Phoenix, Arizona. So site updates will be infrequent at best until next Tuesday, April 27th.

An apollo astronaut store goes on line. Walter Cunningham, who flew on the Apollo 7 mission, now sells flown artifacts in addition to his autograph. More at "Apollo astronaut sells artifacts online" - collectSPACE - Apr.19.04

Space chute baggage... Brighten up your travel with a city bag created from an "authentic parachute from the 1990 Soyuz TM-8 mir Mission." See Soyuz TM-8 Space Collection - everQuest Design and "everQuest debuts Soyuz chute bags" - collectSPACE - Apr.19.04

News briefs ... NASA turns down a Russian plan for longer ISS stays for the astronauts that would free up seats for space tourists: NASA turns down Russian proposal for year-long ISS stay - spacetoday.net - Apr.20.04 ...

... How might battles actually occur in space: Space Navies 2 - USS Clueless - Apr.20.04

April.20.2004 Space News

The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday, April 20, 2004, live 7-8:15PM PST - Robert Zubrin, head of the Mars Society and a famous advocate for Mars exploration and settlement, will be on the show.

Sunday, April 25, 2004 Space Show features the pre-recorded program with Walt Anderson. He is the telecommunications magnate who has funded several space projects and companies including FINDS, Space Frontier Foundation, Orbital Recovery, , MirCorp, and Rotary Rocket .

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

April.19.2004 Space News

News briefs ... Even in the age of small dish digital TV transmission, the big C-band satellite dishes still offer some advantages: Channels a la Carte: Big-Dish Customers, a Dying Breed, Choose What They Pay For - Washington Post - Apr.15.04 ...

... Space offers plentiful resources for a growing population: Utilizing ET wealth: building a new world - The Space Review - Apr.19.04 ...

... This project was old even when I was in college back when dinosaurs roamed the earth: Levity and gravity: behind the story of Gravity Probe-B - The Space Review - Apr.19.04 ...

... More about the recent the Aldridge Committee hearing in San Francisco:
Imagination takes flight on wings of space visionaries / Solar-powered explorers, asteroid-fighting robots among pitches for president's panel -SF Gate - Apr.19.04

April.18.2004 Space News

News briefs ... Bureaucrats will come up with reasons to justify their regulations even when their original motivations are proven bogus: ATFE Completes Hobby Rocket Tests: ATFE "Not Dangerous To Planes - Dangerous To Ground Targets" - American Rocket Society - Apr.9.04 (via rocketforge) ...

... Bringing science to a sci-fi convention: From aerospace to science fiction - DenverPost.com - Apr.16.04 ...

... AMSAT-UK recently marked two decades of successful operation of their OSCAR-11 satellite: Happy Birthday UO-11 !! - AMSAT OSCAR-11 Celebrates 20 years in Space on 1 March 2004 - AMSAT-UK ...

... The public, or at least the segment talking to the Aldridge Committee, shows great enthusiasm for the new space initiative: Public Comments Running 7 to 1 in Support of President's Vision for Space Exploration - SpaceRef - Apr.16.04 ...

... More about the recent hearing: Panelists Advise Moon-to-Mars Commission on How to Get to 'Beyond' - Space.com - Apr.16.04 ...

... As was the case with satellite versus cellular, the space industry has waited too long to provide broadband internet connections: Rural Folk May Yet Get Broadband - Wired - Apr.17.04 ...

... Meteorite collecting has become a popular hobby even on Mars: Analysis: 'Bounce' rock's cosmic portent - UPI - Apr.16.04

April.16.2004 Space News

A flock of space phoenix... Yesterday Globalstar announced that it has emerged successfully from bankruptcy: Globalstar Financial Restructuring Completed - Globalstar - Apr.15.04. It is talking about new investments and even launching 8 more satellites (already constructed.)

The company joins several other space companies that endured near-death experiences in the post 2000 downturn and survived. Iridium, Orbcomm, Orbimage, and StarBand Communication are now privately held businesses pursuing niche markets.

Loral, whose heavy debt from its investment in Globalstar drove it into Chapter 11, remains one of the big exceptions. However, it has now paid off much of its debt with proceeds of a sale of its North American satellites to Intelsat and might get out of bankruptcy this year.

The Aldridge Commission continues its hearings in San Francisco today. Yesterdays meeting heard from Ray Bradbury and others in the arts and media: Bradbury Praises Plan for Space Exploration - FOXNews.com - Apr.15.04 * Hollywood can promote space goals, experts say - Florida Today - Apr.15.04

Rocketry contest finals... The second year of the Team America Rocketry Challenge sponsored by the NAR & AIA will culminate in the finals competition on May 22, 2004, at Great Meadow, The Plains, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.

Out of an initial 600 teams, 100 qualified to participate in the final big blast off. "The winning teams will share $60,000 in prizes! Finals open to public and press at 8:30am." AIA Announces Finalists for World's Largest Model Rocket Contest - AIA - Apr.15.04

News briefs... Christine Lavin pondered If We Had No Moon on the To Touch the Stars album. Looks like Sedna reacted oddly to its lack of a companion: Lack of moon orbiting Sedna puzzles astronomers - spacetoday.net - Apr.14.04 ...

... People keep coming up with new ways to look for planets around other stars: Distant planet revealed by microlensing - New Scientist - Apr.15.04 ...

... Orbital Recovery's space tug could move the Hubble to the ISS (this is not impossible, as you so often hear, because the tug will use highly efficient electrical propulsion) for refurbishment by the crews there. NASA, however, is looking at robots to repair the observatory: Robotic Hubble Servicing Mission Plans Under Review - Space.com - Apr.15.04

April.15.2004 Space News

Mars hams... The Elser-Mathes Cup is a trophy that will be awarded for the first two-way Amateur Radio contact between Earth and Mars. Just as the ISS astronaut routinely use their ham station, the Mars explorers will probably exchange messages with hams. (See AMSAT P5-A: Amateur Mars Satellite for discussions of the challenges of communications with Mars spacecraft by amateur radio enthusiasts). Read more about amatuer radio and deep space communications in ARISS to Mull Ham Radio's Role in Distant Space Travel - ARRLWeb - Apr.14.04 (via spacetoday.net).

April.14.2004 Space News

Alan Shepard bio... I heard yesteday from Neal Thompson: author of Light This Candle: The Life & Times of Alan Shepard, America's First Spaceman . The book came out on March 23 (by Crown Books). According to Neal, "Homer Hickam (author of Rocket Boys) calls it 'one of the finest books ever written about the space program.'" You can find further info about the book and author on his website. Also, Robert Pearlman recently interviewed the author: "'Candle' author melts 'icy' astronaut" - collectSPACE - Mar.26.04

Space tourist updates are available at GoToOrbit.com at Space Adventures. It will track Greg Olsen's preparations and flight to the ISS.

News briefs ... Rand Simberg talks about the 1979 "Moon Treaty" and why space advocates should resist its comeback: A Bad Precedent? - Transterrestrial Musings - Apr.14.04 ...

... Timothy Ferris gives a slightly more positive spin on human spaceflight than a recent screed by Nobelist Steven Weinberg also in NY Review of Books: Stumbling into Space By Timothy Ferris - The New York Review of Books - Apr.29.04 issue (via spacetoday.net) Note that after many, many words he finally discusses a book - Greg Klerkxx's Lost in Space.

April.13.2004 Space News

Moon-Mars committee hearing... The next Aldrige Committee hearing will take place this week on April 15-16th at the Galileo Academy of Science and Technology in San Francisco, California. This meeting will focus on "fields of education, entertainment, and robotics." Ray Bradbury will be the lead off spearker.

Jim Benson of Spacedev will talk in the session on "Prospects for Space Prosperity": SpaceDev's Benson to Testify Before President Bush's Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond - USATODAY.com - Apr.13.04 (link via a HS reader.)

The SpaceShow this week:

Wednesday, April 14, 2004 at 12-1:30pm PDT: Special pre-record program featuring Walt Anderson. He is the telecommunications magnate who has funded several space projects and companies including FINDS, Space Frontier Foundation, Orbital Recovery, MirCorp, and Rotary Rocket

Tuesday, April 13, 2004, live 7-8:15PM PST - Rabbi Yehuda Grundman, professor at The Kabbalah Center. "...his education goes way beyond the spirito-religious as Yehuda Grundman possesses extensive knowledge in construction engineering, mathematics, and physics. Thus, Yehuda Grundman can span the knowledge from the spiritual science of Kabbalah to the physical sciences. This has made him especially qualified to further discuss with Space Show listeners our intricate relationship between spirituality and modern science, specifically our relationship with space -- not as two divergent or conflicting disciplines -- but two views of the one same Mystery of Creation..."

Sunday, April 18, 2004,12-1:30PM PST - Rick Citron, "entrepreneur, business lawyer, and specialist in space commercialization. Mr. Citron is an attorney and entrepreneur specializing in business law, space commerce, and more....Rick built his first micrograin rockets in the late 1950's and assisted his brother, Bob Citron, in the formation and capitalization of Spacehab, Inc. and Kistler Aerospace Corporation."

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

News briefs... Robert Goehlich is starting another lecture series at Keio University. The previous series dealt with space tourism (lecture files on line) while this one will focus on Cost Engineering for Space Transportation Systems (course description pdf)"...

... Check out these amazing pictures: Mars Express snaps stunning view of Louros Valles - Spaceflight Now - Apr.10.04

April.12.2004 Space News

New space song contest sponsored by the Mars Society:

Space Pioneer Song Contest to be Held
April 9, 2004

The Mars Society is proud to announce that it will hold its Second Rouget de Lisle Award contest for songs celebrating the cause of the human exploration and settlement of space.

We are asking for a tape or CD of songs, to be submitted together with a hardcopy of the lyrics by no later than April 30, 2004 to Mars Society, Box 273, Indian Hills, CO 80454. Songs can be any style; classical, folk, country, pop, jazz, rock and roll, etc. A committee of judges will then down select to ten finalists, who will be invited to play at the 7th International Mars Society Convention, Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL, Aug 19-22 2004. The audience will then vote for the winning songs. All finalists, however, will submitted to Prometheus Records for consideration for its next CD, and will also be forwarded to NASA for possible use as wakeup songs for crews of the International Space Station, the Mars Rovers, and the Cassini spacecraft which is now approaching Saturn!

The winner of our first contest "The Pioneers of Mars" was recently used as wakeup music for the Mars rover Opportunity. Written by partners in life and song Karen Linsley and Lloyd Landa, "The Pioneers of Mars" was honored with the Mars Society's first Rouget de Lisle award in 2000.

Co-author Landa died unexpected of a heart attack days before the song's debut at the Mars Society's August 2000 Toronto conference, after which Karen exclaimed in tears, "Get to Mars. And when the notes of this song are heard on Martian soil, he will live again."

You may hear "The Pioneers of Mars" and other songs from the Mars Society's recent collaboration album with Prometheus Music, "To Touch the Stars", at www.prometheus-music.com/buy/thestars-ms.html.

So tune up your harps, space bards, turn in your songs and prepare to turn out for Chicago. Let your voices ring out into the solar system. Mars needs music, and the Chicago conference is going to be the Woodstock of Mars!

Moving heaven if not earth... Though Congress may occasionally listen to warnings about the genuine possibility of a devastating strike by a large asteroid, most likely nothing will come of it. So instead of waiting for politicians to take action, astronauts Ed Lu and Rusty Schweickart and space scientists Piet Hut and Clark Chapman decided to try to do something about it themselves.

They founded the B612 Foundation to purse the goal of significantly altering the orbit of an asteroid in a controlled manner by 2015. They plan to use private funds for this demonstration experiment. Here is their plan for moving an asteroid.

Supporting space commerce... Ed Lu and Rusty Schweickart are also urging NASA to support commercial projects such as space tourism:Hyping the space business: Astronauts say commercial interests can succeed - The Daily Camera - Apr.11.04 (via spacetoday.net.)

Meanwhile, the agency thinks about whether it should help the Russian space tourism business: NASA Mulls Customers on Space Station Request - Space.com - Apr.9.04 .

The Mars Frontier by Robert Stockman is now available on line. According to the author, the novel deals with "the first landing on Mars, exploration of the planet, and its eventual settlement. The novel attempts to make reasonable assumptions about the technology available to send humans to Mars in the 2020s, but speeds up the pace of settlement somewhat. It also sets the exploration and settlement of Mars in the context of exploration of the moon, Venus, asteroids, Mercury, and the outer solar system."

News briefs ... Sky Ear is an unusual public science demonstration. The May 4th event above Greenwich, London will involve "a glowing 'cloud' of mobile phones and helium balloons [...[ released into the air so that people can dial into the cloud and listen to the sounds of the sky."...

... Olliver Boisard's Solar Sails web site looks a lot spiffier and resource-full than the last time I looked. ...

... New biographies of Alan Shepard and Neil Armstrong are reviewed: Greatness written in the stars: New biographies of the first Americans in space, first man on the moon - Houston Chronicles - Apr.11.04 ...

... Sven Grahn has posted an extensive history of the Soviet The US-A program (Radar Ocean Reconnaissance Satelites) spysat program....

... I came across these beautiful Out of This World eCards by TSGC. Check out the other space postcards.

April.11.2004 Space News

A Special Sunday Space Show this evening at 6-7pm PST features "Loretta Hidalgo and George Whitesides, founder of Yuriís Night. Loretta and George return to The Space Show to talk not only about Yuriís Night, but other important space issues and policies that are happening at this time... George recently became the Executive Director of the National Space Society."

Hear the program live at www.live365.com/stations/dlivingston?site=dlivingston.

Note also the regular Sunday show at 12:00-1:30pm PST, which this week, as previously mentioned, features Mike Gaffey, Professor of Space Studies at the University of North Dakota (UND).

April.10.2004 Space News

CubeSats multiplying... Developed at Stanford, the CubeSat design for a compact, low cost satellite is growing in popularity with university groups and others: 1st Annual CubeSat Developers' Workshop, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA - California Space Authority - Apr.9.04. You can even buy a CubeSatKit. More about CubeSat in the Satellite Building section.

With companies like SpaceX promising to offer significantly lower launch costs, I hope we will see a great increase in the number of nanosat projects.

Yuri's Night gets a write up at Wired: Space Celebration Circles Globe - Wired News - Apr.10.04 ...

... Bring some Hip-Hop space music to the party: KRS Taps NASA For Hip-Hop Conference - SOHH.com - Apr.4.04

News briefs... GPS starting to make real money: After years of struggle, GPS is taking off: Finding yourself, or someone else, is starting to pay off - CNET - Apr.9.04 ...

... Email to Mars: Spaced Out on the Interplanetary Internet - TheFeature - Apr.9.04 ...

... CNN reports on Gregory Nemitz's lunar project concept: Personalized moon crash for sale on eBay - CNN.com -Apr.9.04

April.9.2004 Space News

NEO hearing... Senate hearing discusses the NEO threat and search programs: Experts Call on Senate for Support for Near-Earth Object Search - Space.com - Apr.8.04. Witness testimonies are available at Spaceref:

Earth impact simulator lets you choose the size, speed, and other parameters for an asteroid or comet hitting the earth and it returns the effects at a given distance from the impact center.

Part competitive, part not.... HS reader Kaido Kert notes that NASA says on its Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter web page that it will "solicit and competitively select the measurement investigations for the payload that best meet the objectives of this mission. The Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has been designated by NASA to lead this mission and will provide both the Spacecraft and the Launch Services for the mission (these will not be competed)."

Kaido notes that "In other words, NASA will be competitively buying science instruments and experiments, but not spacecraft and launch services. I find it very odd, shouldnt it be exactly the other way around?"

Seems to me that they could put all aspects of the project out to bid. Certainly some of the bigger companies could build the spacecraft (LockMart did a good job with the modestly budgeted Lunar Prospector) but also small innovative companies like TransOrbital (HS advertiser) or SpaceDev should have a chance at it. If it is within the payload range of the Falcon V, then let SpaceX bid for the launch.

April.8.2004 Space News

Milestone in public space travel... The licensing of the SpaceShipOne is a big step forward in the creation of an industry that will provide opportunities to the public for travel into space; suborbital at first, orbital later.

See RLV News for latest updates on the developments in this area.

News brief ... They aren't exactly rare (hundreds of millions per state will be minted), these coins will still be nice collectibles: Crowd likes change in quarters: Hundreds pack KSC to collect new state coin - Florida Today - Apr.7.04

April.7.2004 Space News

Space initiative movement... As indicated by Frank Sietzen's article yesterday, the Presidents new space policy seems, so far at least, to be making more progress than previous initiatives. Perhaps it's because this time there seems to be more support by both advocacy and industry groups. For example, see the Coalition for Space Exploration that consists mostly of aerospace businesses and unions. Several advocacy groups are working together as the National Space & Satellite Alliance.

NASA itself is taking the initiative more seriously this time and has already set in place a number of changes that will be difficult to reverse even if Kerry wins. To free up money for the program, some major projects have been canceled such as the Orbital Space Plane, the X-43C, and RS-84 engine. The agency now seems to take for granted that the shuttle really will stop flying by 2010 or so. New approaches to hardware development include a fly-off for the Crew Exploration Vehicle design and the Centennial Challenges prizes program. (See A few notes from the STA breakfast - Space Politics - Apr.6.04.)

For updates on developments with regard to the new space policies, see the NASA Exploration & Discovery site, James Burk's Project Constellation weblog, and the Space Initiative resource section here.

News briefs... Armchair comet hunters continued to spot their brilliant prey: SOHO sees its 750th comet - ESA - Apr.7.04. More about this sport at SOHO Sungrazers and the SOHO Comet section ...

... The public enjoys at least one type of space-like experience: Disney celebrates Mars rovers, ride - Florida Today - Apr.7.04 ...

... ESA starts a TV show: EuroNews launches TV space magazine with ESA - ESA - Apr.2.04

April.6.2004 Space News

The SpaceShow this week:

Tuesday, April 6, 2004, live 7-8:15PM PST - "Joe Latrell is the founder, president and CEO of Beyond-Earth Enterprises. Mr. Latrell is an avid space enthusiast and for most of his life he has designed and built his own rockets and launch systems. Beyond-Earth is leading the way to the commercialization of space by providing small payload launch capabilities at affordable rates. Beyond-Earth's officers are committed to revitalizing the American public's interest in space by conducting educational demos and lectures at area schools..."

Sunday, April 11, 2004,12-1:30PM PST - "Mike Gaffey, Professor of Space Studies at the University of North Dakota (UND). Dr. Gaffey has been at UND since 2001. His research is into the nature and origin of asteroids, space resources, impact hazards, and the origin and evolution of life on Earth. Dr. Gaffey has strong interests in history, cultural anthropology, paleontology (esp. dinosaurs), and human prospects, with special interests in topics such as Near-Earth object impact hazard, space resources, human and unmanned space program, the origin and evolution of life on Earth, and extra-terrestrial life.... "

Live in Seattle via KKNW 1150AM and on the web at Live365.

Money for the Moon-Mars program may be allocated afterall according to Frank Sietzen: Analysis: Congress warms to new space plan by Frank Sietzen - UPI - Apr.6.04. ...

... Paul Spudis explains why going back to the moon is a good idea: Q&A: Going back to the Moon - BBC - Apr.5.04 ...

... SciAm can only see a zero-sum for space science: Fly Me to the Moon: Going to the Moon means winners and losers in science - Scientific American - Apr.6.04

Rocketry resources... NASA Glenn provides this big site - Beginner's Guide to Model Rockets - with lots of tutorial pages - Model Rocket Slides Index - and simulators including:

(John Carmack used the nozzle simulator to estimate thrust produced during a recent engine test.)

Rocketeers hang separately... John Wickham reviews the background and discord that prevented the passage of legislation to protect rocketry from regulatory abuse by ATFE: What Really Happened With S724? by John Wickman - Apr.4.04.

Space music ... Jeff Foust finds that a space music compilation means everyone will find some songs to like and some not to like: Review: To Touch the Stars - The Space Review - Apr.5.04

News briefs... Moon buggy racers race on earth: North Dakota State triumphs in college division of NASA's 11th Annual 'Great Moonbuggy Race' Saturday - Marshall Center Space - Apr.3.03 ...

... Maybe NASA will do the sensible thing: NASA Studies Robot Servicing of Hubble - Space.com - Apr.5.04 ...

... Space Station news and plans at NASA (Internal) International Space Station Newsletter March 2004 - Spaceref - Apr.5.04 * NASA Space Station Program Manager's Forum March 2004 - SpaceRef - Apr.5.04 ...

... The California Space Authority looks at how satellite phones can assist law enforcement: Real Time Demonstration of Mobile Satellite Communications Applied to Accessing Law Enforcement Data - CSA - Apr.5.04 ...

... A magazine sends each subscribers a custom issue with a cover showing a satellite photo of their home area: Putting 40,000 Readers, One by One, on a Cover - NY Times - Apr.5.04

April.5.2004 Space News

News briefs... Spaceref opens a Cassini-Huygens news page: Saturn Today - Your Daily Source of Saturn News. The spacecraft arrives at Saturn on July 1. See also the JPL gallery of most recent images....

... Navigate the whole surface of Mars via the GeoPlayer Mars Demo. More virtual Mars programs in simulators section...

... Probably not practical and certainly not enviro-esthetically correct, but I wonder if most of the mountain lions, grizzlies, and wolves (for the sake of cows/sheep not people) in the lower 48 could be monitored with GPS tags to keep them out of trouble: GPs reveals secret lives of mountain lions - CNN.com - Apr 4, 2004.

April.3.2004 Space News

Lunar resources and how to extract them were discussed Thursday at the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. In particular, the question of the day was whether "more data are needed to determine if the moon has enough water and minerals to support significant, ongoing human activity there." Spaceref has posted the testimonies of the witnesses and also a couple of summaries of the meeting:

Note that the Lunar Prospector measured, with very high confidence levels, substantial deposits of hydrogen at the poles. The logical assumption was then made that the hydrogen was probably in water ice. However, subsequent radar measurements from earth did not detect ice, at least if it was in a surface layer of a meter or so thick. The radar telescopes cannot see into the deepest craters at the poles whose interiors are in permanent darkness. So there is still the chance that ice will be found there.

Nonetheless, even if the hydrogen is not in water, that does not mean it is inaccessible or of no use. Quite the contrary, the water bond is quite strong so it may actually be easier to obtain the hydrogen if it is weakly held in minerals. The lunar surface is 40% oxygen and its extraction will be a high priority regardless. So water can then be made for consumption by settlers and the hydrogen and oxygen used for fuel. (Though, as Jonathan Goff says in this discussion at Transterrestrial, using the hydrogen for fuel might actually be a waste.)

Of course, this is all handwaving until there is serious research done on the practicalities of resource extraction and there are orbiters and rovers sent to the Moon to make a detailed inventory of what is there.

Apollo launch tower could not be saved despite the efforts of space history enthusiasts: Tower Used by NASA Is Scrapped - NY Times - Mar.30.04. Shame that neither NASA or the state of Florida, which has made billions over the decades from KSC tourists, could not find a way to save it.

You can still help the Smithsonian restore the Saturn V in Houston: Giving Opportunities - Saturn V Restoration - Smithsonian.

April.2.2004 Space News

Mars poster contest is being sponsored by the Mars Society for its 7th International Mars Society Conference in Chicago during August 19-22. Poster Contest for 7th Annual Mars Society Conference - Mars Society - Mar.28.04. There are two categories for entry: youth to age 15 and adult. Deadline is May 31st.

Space model store... Rick Sternbach just opened his Space Model Systems on line store. Rick has been doing space and science fiction artwork since the early 1970s and has worked on films and programs such as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Last Starfighter, Future Flight, and Cosmos.

In addition to spacecraft models, the store offers some beautiful Mars globe, Planetary Terrain Models, space decals, and Rick's artworks.

Big contract for Spacedev was announced yesterday: SpaceDev Awarded $43 Million for Six MDA Satellites: Contract Includes Up to Two Clusters of Three Microsats, One Cluster with On-orbit Networked Laser Communications - SpaceDev - Apr.1.04. The company that started out with plans for an asteroid prospecting mission is now establishing itself as a leading manufacturer of microsats.

Mars Gravity wins grant... The Mars Gravity student led project aims to test centrifugally produced artificial gravity in a spinning microsat that will include a group of mice. They just won a $100K grant from NASA that will go to pay for their "Preliminary Design Review (PDR), slated for later this year, as well as payload and science laboratory prototyping and testing at MIT."

News brief ... Space activist Gregory Nemitz is attempting to auction a Lunar Spacecraft Project on eBay. It would be built by his Orbital Development company...

... Meanwhile, Congress hears about the possibilities of resource extraction from the lunar surface: Astronomer tells Congress about lunar water challenges -Spaceflight Now - Apr.1.04

April.1.2004 Space News

What if Elon Musk's SpaceX company does succeed in lowering the cost of reaching low earth orbit to $1000 per pound ($2200 per kg) as described in this article? That's 3 to 5 times lower than current costs of non-Russian launchers and cheaper even than the Russian ones.

This would mean a big drop in the cost for all sorts of prospective projects, both public and private. Many of the Moon and Mars missions scenarios, for example, will fall significantly in price, especially if in-space assembly is used. (It should be required, in fact, that those who are making estimates of the cost of the new space initiative programs assume a launch price of $1000/lb as an upper limit.) It would be interesting to revisit schemes like solar power stations to see if they start to approach economic feasibility at $1000-$2000/lb.

The Falcon V is intended eventually to become man-rated and some components will be so from the beginning. Even if the costs are 5-10 times higher for a manned version plus the spacecraft for people to ride in, that still means a 200 pound person will reach orbit for a price in the $1M-$2M range. Quite a bit cheaper than the current $20M price. Price elasticity would indicate that the number of customers would increase even faster than the factor of 10 to 20 in the drop in ticket price. So space hotels start to look a lot more viable since their launch costs are falling significantly while the market is looking bigger.

SpaceX still hasn't launched its first rocket so we should not count our space costs before they are realized. However, the fact that a first rate team such as the one that Elon has assembled can make a realistic try at $1000/lb means that such a price point is not breaking any economic or physical laws as some have suggested. If the launch rate goes up significantly from the 5 or so launches per year that the SpaceX model assumes, then prices will drop even lower with economies of scale. When getting to LEO goes for a few hundred dollars per pound, then space starts to get really, really interesting.

News briefs... We can't directly see earth-sized planets yet in the 100 "nearby" star systems where Jupiter-sized planets have been found. A study of these systems indicates that up to half might contain earth-like planets: Calculating odds of other habitable 'Earths' - Spaceflight Now - Mar.31.04 ...

... Not inconceivable that Europe will expand its manned spaceflight programs in the coming years: Europe Targets Human Exploration Of The Moon And Mars - SpaceDaily - Apr.1.04 * A new space race? To put a man on Mars, US, Europe, and China face a stark choice: cooperate or go solo.- Christian Science Monitor - Apr.1.04

Continue to March 2004 articles in archive

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