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The Space Log
Space for Everyone - June 2004

June.30.2004 Space News

Cassini reaches Saturn... Hard for me to believe that seven years has passed already but sure enough, Cassini will fire it's braking rocket today to go into orbit around Saturn. Cassini Prepares To Put On The Brakes by Leonard David - Space.com - June.29.04. The spacecraft will spend years studying the ringed planet and its moons. In January the Huygens probe will drop onto Titan, the only moon in the solar system to have an atmosphere.

Follow the mission at:

Echo alive and well... Yesterday a Russian Dnepr rocket launched several satellites to orbit including the AMSAT Echo microsat: Dnepr launches satellites - spacetoday.net - June.29.04 . Contact was made with the bird soon after:

AMSAT News Service Bulletin 182.01 From AMSAT HQ
SILVER SPRING, MD. June 30, 2004

First contact with Echo was during the pass 1452-1500 UTC on 29 June 2004. The first look at ECHO's telemetry shows things are looking good. The battery, solar panels and temperatures were all as expected.

Initially the transmitter power output was set to approximately 2.2 Watts during commanding sessions. Based on a very good looking power system, the transmitter has been able to be left turned on with the power turned down.

During the second set of passes approximately twelve hours later, the command team finished loading the housekeeping software. The housekeeping task is up and running as of 30 June 2004 at 0525 UTC. With more data available on the power systems performance the transmitter has now been left at about 1.2W.

The morning passes on 30 June will concentrate on gathering telemetry. The evening passes then will continue with checkout activities.

A telemetry decode program, TLMEcho, is available for those who would like to view and report data from Echo. It may be downloaded from AMSAT.ORG in the Echo project area, www.amsat.org/amsat-new/echo/

Laurie in space... Avant-garde multimedia artist Laurie Anderson has become the first artist-in-residence with NASA. Moon and Stars Align for Performance Artist: Laurie Anderson Accepts Art Commission From NASA - Washington Post - June.30.04

Space for kids... Bill Gillespie teaches at Seaforth Public School in Australia and he asked me for some reference material to help his group of 10-12 year olds develop a space themed web site. I think their entry in the Annual Web Design Awards came out quite well.

If you are looking for some suggestions on how to answer common questions about why people should and definitely will go into space, here is a brief FAQ that I sent them.

Making space... FCC tells geosat operators to properly dispose of their old spacecraft: FCC Enters Orbital Debris Debate - Space News - June.28.04 ...

British inconsistencies... Many scientists often speak as if robots can trivially take the place of humans in space exploration. This view convinced the British government not to spend a single pound in support of human spaceflight. So why do they "waste money" on sending humans into another tough environment. Design wanted for Antarctic base - BBC - June.29.04. To be consistent, shouldn't they replace the British Antarctic Survey researchers with robots?

Mobile homes on the Moon... An interesting approach to lunar exploration involving mobile habitats has been developed at NASA Ames:

June.29.2004 Space News

Rocket Town in Houston... Countdown Enterprises, a much appreciated HobbySpace advertiser, is opening Rocket Town on July 3rd in Houston, Texas. The superstore will sell space related apparel, collectibles and gifts.(I assume they sell rockets too!) It also will offer lots of educational "hands-on space experiences."

The store is in a partnership with collectSPACE and they "will present for sale rare and one-of-a-kind space flown artifacts in a museum-like display." Robert Pearlman of collectSpace is also VP of Countdown Enterprises.

More info at

Countdown Enterprises, Inc. announced today the July 3rd opening of Rocket Town™, a space souvenir and memorabilia superstore located just three miles west of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Rocket Town offers visitors a chance to shop in-person for the same large selection of space apparel, collectibles and gifts that Countdown Creations has been offering online since 1997.

... continue at "Countdown set to launch Rocket Town" - collectSPACE - June.28.04

I sure wish them success. The more consumer-oriented space businesses the better.

June.28.2004 Space News

The Space Review, published by Jeff Foust, today has one of its biggest issues ever: six articles and a photo collection from the SS1 flight. These include a couple of articles related to the Aldridge Commission report:

And one article provides a caveat about relying too much on prizes to motivate space development: Beware prize fatigue by Tom Hill - The Space Review - June.28.04.

Pay as you go - at the right price ... In his article, Taylor Dinerman discusses the "pay as you go" recommendation by the commission. This means that NASA would support long term projects with whatever money it could obtain from year to year and would no longer cancel important projects outright just because for a given year it has insufficient funding to keep them fully staffed and on track. Projects would shrink or expand to fit the available funding and if the money fell drastically, the project would be "put into hibernation" until money became available later.

This would help prevent the kind of waste described in an article in Popular Science by the space architect Constance Adams, who worked on the Transhab ISS module project. She lamented the loss of the knowledge gained over several years of hard work and the destruction of a topnotch team when the project was abruptly canceled and its members scattered to other programs.

I would suggest an additional requirement on the pay as you go guideline. One of the biggest hurdles for the President's ambitious space initiative is the demand by Congress and the public for hard numbers on the total costs. However, for such a long term program as going to the Moon and Mars, which will span decades and involve lots of new technologies and techniques, many of which are not even invented yet, it's impossible to make an honest detailed accounting now of the total cost. However, one way to put a limit on the price tag is to require that launch costs fall to preset thresholds before the program can continue to each phase of its development.

For example, I would require that before NASA can send another manned mission to the Moon, the average price per kilogram of payload to low earth orbit (exactly what orbit can be argued about) for commercial launches must fall to $1000 per pound. This is not far from what SpaceX is already planning to charge for the initial Falcon V flights ("$1300 cost per pound" according to this press release). Further reductions could be achieved with improvements to the vehicle and higher flight rates. Similarly, before NASA could commit to a manned mission to Mars, LEO launch costs must fall to $250/lb.

It's important for a couple of reasons that the cost thresholds be determined by commercial space transport. Firstly, private companies will include the expense of vehicle development in what they charge whereas NASA would write off the development cost and look only at operating costs. Secondly, NASA would become highly motivated to encourage and nurture the commercial launch services since its programs would be tied to the success of the private firms.

I think this sort of launch price-pegged approach would satisfy Congress that approval of the new space policy would not commit the country to a huge expansion in total space funding. Also, it will help spur commercial space transport and that in turn will drive space development costs down even more over the long term.

June.27.2004 Space News

New US AMSAT to launch on Tuesday. The AMSAT-NA Echo (OSCAR- E) microsat will ride aboard a Russian Dnepr (converted SS-18 missile). See also What is ECHO? and the newly redesigned Echo page. This will be the first AMSAT-NA satellite for many years.

These reports give the history and technical details about the spacecraft: OSCAR-E_Status_Report - Spring 2004 (pdf) * OSCAR-E_Status_Report_ - Fall 2003 (pdf).

Check the AMSAT News Bulletins for the latest status reports.

Creating a sci-fi future in space... The flight of the SpaceShipOne might seem like an event in a sci-fi novel if there were not several hundred media representatives and fifteen thousand or so spectators in Mojave to give witness to the fact that it actually happened. Certainly the White Knight and the SS1 looked like vehicles in a fantasy graphic novel.

Sci-fi about the near term future in space has been very meager, especially at the major TV and film level. I hope the SS1 flight will inspire writers, TV and film makers, and other creative people to consider that a wild and marvelous space frontier is not far away. A frontier with private adventurers and developers stretching from Mojave to the Moon offers an infinity of scenarios and plots if they just open up their imaginations to the possibilities.

While waiting for the pros to catch on, perhaps space enthusiasts can step in and create their own productions. There have already been some amazingly elaborate Fan Fiction programs based on Star Trek and Star Wars themes. Computer graphics and video tools continue to expand in capabilities while dropping in price. Developing an engaging and richly visualized sci-fi video based on a near-term space scenario is certainly within reach of a group of highly motivated space fans.

Check out the world of Machinima, which involves the art of filmmaking within a real-time, 3D virtual environment. You can read about this vibrant area at Machinima.org and the FAQ there. The Machinma.com site provides a meeting ground for the community of 3D video developers and they also offer some DVDs.

See also the 3D Modelling resources in the Space Models section and the Tools for Creating Space Simulations in the Space Simulators section.

Future past ... Following up a recent item about the Space Age Pop era, Fred Becker sent me some interesting links to the Prelinger Archives / Futurism page at archive.org. It offers a selection of short films from the 1950s and early 1960s period made by some big companies about the future. For example, check out Century 21 Calling, a " [r]omp through the futuristic landscape of the Seattle World's Fair, centered in the Bell System pavilion."

Along with the inspiration form Sputnik and the space race, here's one reason scholastic achievement scores in the US peaked in the 1962-1963: When Science Was Simple: Watching Mr. Wizard - NY Times - June.27.04.

Fred also passed along this link to a site that celebrates both Thelonious Monk and that cool new high tech musical instrument of the 1960s, the Moog: Thelonious Moog: Yes We Didn't

Filk review... Here is a good survey of the history and status of filk music: Future Folk byTwila Oxley Price - Folk Perspective - June.04. She lists a number of the top tunes of the genre. Note that she includes the To Touch the Starts space CD but producer Eli Goldberg often points out to me that only a few of the songs on the album should be classified as true filk tunes.

June.26.2004 Space News

Hubble on the big screen... The Hubble will soon be coming to an IMAX near you:Hubble IMAX Film Takes Viewers on Ride Through Space and Time - HubbleSite - June.24.04 * Video

Weird Martian rocks... Geologists continue to find amazing new features on the surface of the Red Planet: Mars scientists marvel at mysterious rock formation - Spaceflight Now - June.25.04

June.25.2004 Space News

Rocket attack... The stupidly oppressive regulations on rocketry are starting to have an effect and it ain't good: Rocket Hobbyists Dropping Hobby - Wired - June.25.04.

News briefs .. NASA is reorganizing itself to meet the challenges of the new space initiative and to fulfill the recommendations of the Aldridge Commission according to the latest reports: NASA Begins to Transform Itself - Keith Cowing/SpaceRef - June.24.04 * NASA chief announces plan to transform agency - CNN.com - June.24.04....

... Michael Mealling reports on whether Congress is going to mandate changes such as forcing to NASA to work more efficiently with private companies: Aldridge Report Sausage :: RocketForge - June.23.04...

... But no shuttle to Hubble regardless: O'Keefe Hangs Tough On Hubble - SpaceDaily - June.23.04 ...

... Here is a report from a National Academies workshop on space exploration with recommendations for NASA: Stepping-Stones to the Future of Space Exploration: A Workshop Report - Nat'l Academies Press - 2004 (via HS reader M. Antoniewicz)...

... Meanwhile, from Mars comes more beautiful pictures from the ESA orbiter Mars Express - The Valles Marineris canyon - ESA - June.22.04

June.24.2004 Space News

Space tourist flight canceled... According to reports from Russia, the flight to the ISS by Greg Olsen has unfortunately been canceled due to health concerns:

Space memories ... Alan Boyle reports on collectibles related to the recent SpaceShipOne flight: Space history for sale - Alan Boyle/MSNBC - June.23.04. The Canadian everQuest company is getting attention for its travel bags made from Soyuz parachute materials" The Soyuz Bag - The Globe and Mail - June.23.04

June.22.2004 Space News

Spacedate 21.06.04, Mojave, California... - Check out Joan Horvath's special report on her trip to Mojave to watch the heroic flight of SpaceShipOne .

Some Space Age Pop additions were passed along by Fred Becker. The album Folk Songs For The 21st Century - Sheldon Allman - Dana's Downloadable Album of the Month - April 2004 is certainly a work unique to the late 1950s. Allman wanted to write "tunes that our present day composers might be writing if they took the wonders of the future seriously."

Allman was a character actor who will be quickly recognized by those familiar with 1960s period TV shows. He orginally studied opera and has quite a strong voice. Though the title refers to folk songs the style is actually 50's rock'n'roll, which is not exactly the best match for his voice.

See the site Space Age Pop a Go-Go for lots of resources about the space influenced music of the 50s and 60s.

SpaceShipOne tune... Speaking of space music, here's a tribute by Terence Chua to yesterday's SS1 flight called Spaceship Yourself.

Aldridge Commission report (see the commission web site and the Executive Summary - Spaceref) is not getting universal aclaim. Here are a couple of alternative views: The Dinkin Commission report by Same Dinkin - The Space Review - June.21.04 * Half-Baked Proposals for Space - New York Times - June.24.04

Space solar power remains a topic of interest, especially at a time of rising energy costs: NASA Spaces on Energy Solution - Wired News - June.22.04 and "Solar Power from Space - SPS'04 Conferece" - ESA - June.30 - July 2, 2004

Micro rocket info ... Jetex.org provides "a comprehensive online resource covering the technical and historical aspects of small sustained thrust micro rocket motors for use in model airplanes and other craft."

June.21.2004 Space News

10:45: SpaceShipOne is in the air.. I'm posting updates on the mission in the RLV News section.

June.19.2004 Space News

Space memorabilia market seems to be growing: Space paraphernalia comes out of attics - Huntsville Times - June.18.04

There is a big market for space and aviation memorabilia, she said. Between 70,000 and 80,000 people around the world participated in Aurora's auction last April, either in person, by phone, over the Internet or by mail.

... But there are still potholes to watch out for when dealing with former NASA materials:"Man offering Apollo parachute arrested" - collectSPACE - June.18.04

June.18.2004 Space News

Mars Society Music contest ...

Finalists Announced for Space Pioneer Song Contest
Mars Society - June 14, 2004

The finalists for the Second Rouget de Lisle Award contest for songs celebrating the cause of the human exploration and settlement of space have been announced.

Over 100 songs were received from songwriters all over the Earth. The songs were written in a wide range of styles, including folk, pop, country, rock, jazz, opera, Broadway, and British dance hall. Our of these, twenty were selected as finalists. The finalists will sing at a special event to be held at the 7th International Mars Society Convention, Palmer House Hilton, Chicago IL August 19-22, 2004, with the winners judged by the audience.

All twenty finalist songs will be recommended to Prometheus Music for inclusion on their next space song CD, and provided to NASA for consideration for use as wake up songs for ISS crews and Interplanetary probes. (The winner of the First Rouget de Lisle contest, "The Pioneers of Mars" by Lloyd Landa and Karen Lindsey, was used by JPL as wakeup music for the Mars rover Opportunity.)[ Pioneers of Mars is available as Real Audio stream from the To Touch the Stars CD page at Prometheus Music.]

In alphabetical order by writer, the finalists are:

Hotel on the Moon Joe Alley
Mars Landing Tamara Cannon
When Mice Become Men Jenetta Deavers
Make this World Come Alive Leslie Fish
Oxygen Harmon Huff
Red Skies Ronald Reed Jackson
Gonna Tread on the Red Planet Alexander Jamieson
Lullabye of Mars S. Miria Jo
Port of Mars Jim Layeux
Red Dust Jim Layeux
Blue Star Jim Layeux
Rock-a-bye Steve McDaniel
On to Mars Bob McNally
First Footprint Bob McNally
Green Hills of Terra Francis Parker
Shine Your Light Lauren Reed
The Good Ol' U of Mars Marilyn Rucker
Klaatu Borada Nikto Regina Smoler
Thank God Dreams Survive Bill and Tina Swindell
Toward the Red Thom Williams

Mars needs music, and the Chicago convention is going to be the Woodstock of Mars!

Mars renders music ... Inspired by this rendering of Mars from Kees Veenenbos, the Romanian composer Serban Nichifor created Songs of Mars and In Aeternum.

Furthermore, the composer says the background of the music (the "objective" like organ sounds) is actually a conversion of the jpg image to midi sounds using the MIDImage software. The melody is his "subjective" contribution made with Mozart, the Music Processor™ music notation software.

The compositions are available in the Mozart format (".mz" files): Song of Mars and In Aeternum. (A free Mozart Viewer is available for playing the files.) The Song of Mars is also available from The Living Music Journal as a MIDI file.

Building Mars homes... The Mars Homestead Project investigates how to use local Mars materials to build human habitats. Builders in a Strange Land - Wired News - June.18.04

June.17.2004 Space News

Advanced rocketry left out... Rand Simberg notes that the Aldridge Committee sees space exploration as an important way to inspire students to pursue technical subjects but didn't take the opportunity to support hobby rocketry. Such support might have helped to defend it and other technical hobbies against attacks by over-zealous regulators: Even More Aldridge Thoughts - Transterrestrial Musings - June.17.04

News briefs... The point is not science but settlement: Space Is Our Home, not a Program: Focusing on federally funded exploration misses the point: Settlement is the goal, and it's key to our survival and prosperity - BetterHumans.org - June.17.04 (via spacetoday.net). For a list of the reasons this is so, see Why Space Settlementm - Space Frontier Foundation...

.... A system to monitor vital signs of space travelers could also be useful on earth: Stanford Researchers Go From Heaven To Earth In 'LifeGuard' Test - ScienceDaily - June.16.04

Aldridge Commission Report... Analysis and commentary at:

News brief... The Saturn V that has been rusting away in Houston will finally get restored: Apollo Moon Rocket to Get Face-Lift in Texas - Reuters.com - June.17.04

June.16.2004 Space News

Aldridge Commission report is now available on the commission web site. The Executive Summary is posted in html at Spaceref.

Commentary at TransTerrestrial Musings and by Michael Mealling at Rocketforge.

Kerry on space... Discussion of John Kerry's remarks on space policy: If You Favor The New Space Initiative... - Transterrestrial Musings - June.16.04 * Kerry and the space vision - Space Politics - June.16.04

Inflatable space hotels from Bigelow Aerospace get more press attention in this article: An Inflatable Space - The Statesman - June.16.04

Aldridge Commission report anticipation grows. Everybody expects it to recommend major changes at NASA:

... It Kerry wins, it sounds like he would certainly not zero out funding for human spaceflight. However, he probably won't support a major push for deep space exploration as would happen with Bush's new space initiative: EXCLUSIVE: Kerry Criticizes Bush for Space Vision - Space.com - June.16.04

A book to rove around in - Mars - The NASA Mission Reports Volume 2 from Apogee Books gets a good review in Book chronicles current Mars missions - Florida Today - June.16.04. In a recent Space Show interview, publisher Robert Godwin of Apogee Books talks about the development of the book and the DVD that comes with it. (Amazon affiliate link.)

News briefs... The satellite building business gets a boost in orders this year: Satellite launch industry enjoys orders' rebound - Florida Today - June.16.04 ...

... Bacteria may help with close loop living in space: Waste, the final frontier: The sheer amount of human refuse is a major obstacle to long-distance space travel. Kate Ravilious investigates the remarkable bacteria that could convert it into a source of electricity - Independent.co.uk - June.16.04...

... It's not cost effective at the current price for launching payloads to LEO, but good science does in fact happen on the ISS: Mob Rules: An experiment onboard the International Space Station is helping physicists decipher the group behavior of atoms and molecules. - Science@NASA - June.16.04

June.14.2004 Space News

The SpaceShow this week:

Sunday, June 15, 2004 Space Show "features reDr. Christopher P. McKay, Planetary Scientist with the Space Science Division of NASA Ames. Chris received his Ph.D. in Astro Geophysics from the University of Colorado in 1982 and has been a research scientist with the NASA Ames Research Center since that time. His current research focuses on the evolution of the solar system and the origin of life. He is also actively involved in planning for future Mars missions including human settlements. Chris been involved in research in Mars-like environments on Earth, traveling to the Antarctic dry valleys, Siberian, the Canadian Arctic, and the Atacama desert in Chile to study life in these Mars-like environments. Dr. McKay be updating us on his new work in the Atacama desert as well as a variety of issues dealing with Mars, the rovers, and planetary science..."

Thursday, June 17, 2004 Special Space Show is a special open lines live taping of The Space Show offering listeners the opportunity to be a guest on a future Space Show program. Space Show listeners will be able to listen and participate in this live open lines taping session by accessing
from 7:30 - 8:45PM PDT ... Listeners will be able to use the toll free line, e-mail and chat as is the case for all live shows. However, this special open lines program will provide Space Show listeners with the opportunity to phone in on any topic of interest. Those callers presenting an interesting topic and discussion will be invited to be a guest on a future Space Show program. This opportunity is only for those listeners calling the program, not for those sending e-mail or using chat. So if you would like to be a guest on the program, call the show and tell us all what you would like to discuss. This is your chance to promote your ideas, discuss the subjects most interesting to you, to promote any books or other projects that you are working on or have completed, or your work in general. This program will be repeated Tuesday evening, June 22 at the regularly scheduled time of 7PM PDT and all other regularly scheduled repeat broadcasts.

Sunday, June 20, 2004 Space Show "features Fraser Cain, publisher of Universe Today, a space and astronomy website which he began in 1999. It's now one of the more popular space sites, and visited by more than 200,000 people every month. The newsletter edition goes out to 23,000 people every weekday. In his regular life, Fraser was the co-founder of Absolute Software, a security software company, and an executive with Communicate.com - both of which are still public, despite the dotcom crash. Most recently, he was the marketing director for interactivetools.com - a content management software company. He's currently works on Universe Today and is completely current on events in both astronomy and space..."

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

Commercialization and NASA... Often when alt.spacers complain that NASA needs to work with private space developers, the retort is that the agency already does this via its many contracts with Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and Northrop. However, these giant companies act more like the design bureaus (in Henry Spencer's term) in the old Soviet Union. They are big, bureaucratic appendages to NASA that very careful do exactly as the agency wants and avoid any risky and innovative space development on their own.

There are, in fact, good examples that show that space can be done differently. The DC-X, Lunar Prospector, and other projects that followed a nonstandard aerospace business approach managed to accomplish their missions with drastically lower costs as compared to what NASA and its usual suspects would have spent if they had been in charge. I have heard former DC-X managers say that if normal NASA procurement methods had been followed, their project would have cost about ten times more than it actually did (less than $100m) Pat Bahn of TGV-Rockets told me that he ran a NASA cost model program with DC-X parameters and got a factor of around 40 times higher than the actual cost.

The Aldridge Commission is apparently going to call for NASA to make a major change in the way it interacts with private firms, especially with respect to LEO access. This will mean, for example, that the agency should offer to purchase launch services from the lowest bidder according to payload mass and not require that the vehicle be built according to NASA specifications. The commission will also probably encourage prize related programs like the X PRIZE, which NASA is now doing on a small scale with the Centennial Challenges program.

However, as Michael Mealling points out in The "Fish, Barrel and #6 Birdshot" That Is The NYT - RocketForge - June.14.04, the press will probably react in a knee-jerk manner to words like "commercial" and "privatization" and assume it simply means shifting more work from NASA to the big aerospace companies like it did with the shuttle processing. See NASA Is Urged to Add Tasks for Industry - The New York Times - June.15.04 and Panel Suggests Changes at NASA: Report Encourages Some Privatization - Washington Post - June.15.04

If that's all it means then the whole commission exercise was pointless. To accomplish the full vision of the new initiative, as well described in Space Vision Misunderestimated By Charles Rousseaux - TCS: Tech Central Station - June.15.04, a whole new approach to space exploration and development will be required. And it won't be done with just a bunch of new cost-plus contracts to two or three giant firms.

Camp KSC... The official Space Camp affiliate in Florida shut down a couple of years ago due to the recession and the post-9/11 slowdown in travel. However, there is now the Camp Kennedy Space Center. It's only available in the summer but seems to offer many of the same activities. Kids explore Camp KSC contraptions: Many find Mission Control, multi-axis ride popular - Florida Today - June.14.04.

News briefs... Check out the Space Week Greeting Cards from 123Greetings.com and the list of other space ecards...

... I mentioned recently that satellite radio was growing rapidly but it looks like satellite TV also keeps on expanding as well: DISH Network Passes 10 Million Customer Milestone - EchoStar - June.14.04 (via spacetoday.net) ...

... Science fiction lured Donna Shirley to engineering and Mars exploration and now to Seattle: Making Science Fact, Now Chronicling Science Fiction - The New York Times - June.15.04...

... If you didn't see the Venus transit across the Sun in real-time, check out the great photos at The 2004 Transit of Venus - Gallery - science@NASA.

June.14.2004 Space News

The Space Intiative: It's not just humans to the Moon & Mars... Jeff Foust reports on a recent meeting in Washington D.C. that focused on whether the Bush space initiative overly emphasizes sending humans to the Moon and Mars to the detriment of astronomy and space science: Scientists and the exploration vision - The Space Review - June.14.04. The conclusion seemed to be that the initiative as stated by the President does not do this but that NASA might interpret it that way....

... Harrison Schmitt, lunar explorer and ex-Senator, defends the role of humans in space science: Space Exploration and Development: Why Humans? - Geotimes - June 2004 (via SciScoop)...

... Government/commerical partnerships are the key to achieving long term success in lunar exploration and development according to Pioneering the way out by Gregory Anderson - The Space Review - June.14.04 ...

... The NSS Washington Legislative Conference - July 11-13 - has "morphed" into a big lobbying effort on Capitol Hill in support of the space initiative: Join the Moon-Mars Blitz! - NSS Chapters News - June.11.04.

Show biz looks again at space tours... The Lance Bass flight never got off the ground but it looks like show business people are still pursuing space tourist projects: Go into space, be part of reality show: The great space race is back on among reality TV producers. - CNN.com - Jun 14, 2004 (via Ken Schweitzer) * The Vine: Reality TV's eye on final frontier - Hollywood Reporter - June.14.04 (via spacetoday.net)

News briefs... Satellite radio will be another space-enabled business to attain great success: XM Satellite Radio Tops Two Million Subscribers - XM Radio - June.14.04 * Analyst: 29 Million Sat Radio Subs by 2010 - SkyREPORT.com - June.14.04...

... GPS and satellite imaging help to create the ultimate maps: A SuperMap for Soldiers Or Business Travelers - Information Sciences Institute - May.28.04 ...

... Maybe kids living in NY City will someday see the stars: Light Pollution - The New York Times Editorial - June.14.04...

... Dwayne Day disputes the simple-minded conventional wisdom today of "satellites:bad, human spys: good" with regard to US intelligence operations: In defense of the beleaguered spysat - The Space Review - June.14.04 ...

... Gerard O'Neill tops my list but not this one: Favorite Space Visionary? - Slashdot Poll - June.14.04 (via K. Kert)

June.12.2004 Space News

Space quotations... Writer Sylvia Engdahl has nicely assembled a big collection of quotations concerning space from various notables: Space Quotes to Ponder.

By the way, Ms. Engdahl was recently interviewed on the Space Show.

News briefs... The Aldridge Commission will recommend significant changes in NASA: Moon-to-Mars Commission Recommends Major Changes at NASA - Space.com - June.10.04 * An early peek at the Aldridge Commission report - Space Politics - June.11.04...

... Such changes couldn't come soon enough. NASA is already jacking up the unmanned lunar program to $1.3B: Could LRO weigh down the exploration plan? - Space Politics - June.10.04...

... The Moon Society will "support the effort to refocus NASA's human space activities toward exploration, including a return to the Moon and moving on to Mars and beyond." : Moon Society Joins The Space Exploration Alliance - RocketForge - June.11.04...

... Satellite TV has been growing rapidly but it would sure speed up even more at this price: Free satellite TV? - SkyREPORT.com- June.11.04....

... A neat idea for sensors: Bacterial Integrated Circuits: By interfacing bacteria to silicon chips, NASA-supported researchers have created a device that can sense almost anything. - Science@NASA - June.10.04

June.10.2004 Space News

NASA's role in space exploration and development will be the central topic of the Aldridge Commission's report due out next week. James Burk at Project Constellation gives his recommendations of what the report should say. Michael Mealling gives in turn his response to those recommendations: A Response to ProjectConstellation's Aldridge Commission Article - RocketForge - June.9.04. See also the discussion at
Transterrestrial Musings where I got these links.

News briefs... GPS is inspiring more and more applications: For Wandering Tourists, Help From on High - The New York Times - June.10.04 ...

... Free ranging mini-bots called Personal Satellite Assistant (PSA) could become useful companions on space stations: A Jet-Powered PDA for Astronauts - Wired - June.10.04

Tech News: VTOL progress... The Israel company Urban Aeronautics says that it has completed a set of test flights of its CityHawk vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) demonstrator. (No photos posted yet.) They will now begin development of the X-Hawk vehicle.

The UrbanAero approach is to use one or more large vertical fans for lift and a set of vanes below each fan for control. Crew and cargo compartments are then fitted around these big fans. (The X- Hawk also has a couple of ducted fans for horizontal propulsion.) This seems like an approach to VTOL that might be more robust than with the Moller Skycar, which rotates the engines for takeoff and landing. (See hover test photos.)

Note that Moller reports that the start of tetherless flight tests will be delayed while Freedom Motors ramps up production of its rotary engines. These compact engines with exceptionally high power to weight ratios are a spinoff from the skycar development.

News briefs... Robert Pearlman reports on the return of a prototoype Apollo capsule to the U.S.S. Hornet aircraft carrier that once plucked it from the sea: "Apollo capsule departs for aircraft carrier" - collectSPACE - June.9.04...

... NASA requests proposals for a spacecraft to provide a detailed mapping of the Moon: NASA To Solicit Proposals For Lunar Orbiter Payload Next Week - Aviation Week - June.8.0...

... Speaking of the Moon, check out the dynamite list of speakers at the Return to the Moon conference in Las Vegas, Nevada July 16-18, 2004....

... The SciFan: Books & Links for the Science Fiction Fan has a huge database of info about writers and series. (I just discovered an author there named Lindsay Clarke!)

June.9.2004 Space News

The SpaceShow this week:

Sunday, June 13, 2004 Space Show "features returning guest Dr. Jeff Foust, editor of The Space Review (www.thespacereview.com), a weekly online publication of articles and commentary on space-related topics. He also publishes Spacetoday.net, which provides links to and summaries of space news from around the web, as well as spacepolitics.com, a weblog devoted to space policy topics.,..."

Tuesday's show with Robert Godwin of Apogee Books should be on line soon. [Update June 12: Now available]

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

Sea & space states... The Seastead.org project to establish ocean based independent states might have implications for space settlements. (Via Transterrestrial Musings.)

June.8.2004 Space News

News briefs... The joy of weightlessness: Free From Gravity, These Students Taste Outer Space - NY Times - June.8.04 * Mild-Mannered Reporter Gets a Superman Moment - The New York Times - June.8.04 ...

... Express your views on Moon base politics in the Survey - Political Feasibility of a Moon base

June.7.2004 Space News

Venus transits tomorrow across the Sun:Concerts, sleepovers herald rare Venus show Tuesday - USATODAY.com - June.7.04. Lots of info here: Transit of Venus. Web cast at spaceweather.com.

News briefs... Good set of Space news and history links: Poynter Online - History of U.S. Space Flight (via Fred Becker)...

... Florida Today sees lots of dangers on the Space Station: Space Station in Peril - FLORIDA TODAY Special Report - June..04 * Interactive Display. But Keith Cowing at NASA Watch (short term items) thinks they exaggerated in several cases...

... Satellite radio is saving radio: Radio Free America: The people behind satellite radio understand the dreadful quality of traditional commercial radio. - The Atlantic Online - June.3.04 (via spacetoday.net)...

... Space collectibles dealer Alex Panchenko gets a message from space: Greeting and Fruits from... ISS - A.Panchenko - May.29.04.

June.5.2004 Space News

News briefs... Check out the 3D CAD Drawings made by David Velasquez of various Space Stations ...

... The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft is carrying some original musical compositions to deliver to Saturn's moon Titan: 'Music2Titan': sounds of a spaceprobe - ESA - June.4.04. See the Music2Titan site for details (but not yet the music files as far as I can tell.)...

... New Scientist interviews Apollo Astronaut Dave Scott: To the moon and back - New Scientist - June.4.04...

... Webcast of the Venus solar transit on June 9th will be available at SpaceWeather.com and Exploratorium: Transit of Venus.

June.4.2004 Space News

News brief... Amateur astronomer accomplishes something no one, amateur or pro, has done before: Amateur Images Venus's Surface - Sky and Telescope - June.3.04 ...

... Flippant claims of trillion dollar costs for the Bush space initiative continue to be shown to be nonsense: New Moon Shot Not So Costly - SpaceDaily/UPI - June.3.04 * CRS Report for Congress: NASA FY 2005 Budget in Brief, and Key Issues for Congress - SpaceRef - June.3.04 ...

... New space ride sounds fun: Disney attraction simulates blastoff - The Washington Times - June.3.04 (via spacetoday.net)

June.2.2004 Space News

Private human spaceflight begins...

Historic Space Launch Attempt Scheduled for June 21
Paul G. Allen and Burt Rutan Announce Plans for
First Non-Government, Privately Funded Manned Space Flight -
Scaled Composites - June.2.04

Robotic repair for the Hubble becomes an official option: NASA to pursue robotic servicing of Hubble - spacetoday.net - June.2.04 * NASA Releases RFP On Robotic Hubble Servicing Options - Aviation Week - June.2.04.

No word on whether Orbital Recovery will put in a bid to move the observatory to the ISS: Orbital Assistance: ConeXpress Spacecraft Could Extend Satellite Missions - Space.com - June.2.04

June.1.2004 Space News

News briefs... Derek Deville web site offers more pictures of the recent record breaking GoFast! rocket flight by the Civilian Space eXploration Team ...

... The National Space Society now has a news blog (via Rocketforge.)...

... More complaints about the way the Beagle 2 failure report has been handled: Beagle 2 Report: What happens on Mars, stays on Mars - Aviation Week/SpaceRef - June.1.04

Exploiting space workers... To build large, complex structures in space, such as bases on the Moon or O'Neill scale habitats, for a reasonable cost will require big improvements in space construction productivity. This will have to come from robotics, especially from large numbers of robots working in a collaborative manner. For progress in this area, see, for example, the work going on at Polymorphic Robotics Laboratory and that described in this article: Puckish robots pull together: Air hockey helps joint techniques for work in space. - Nature - May.28.04

Continue to May 2004 articles in archive

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