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101 - 01-29-2010, 12:51
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NASA - NASA Chooses Three Finalists for Future Space Science Mission to Venus, an Asteroid or the Moon
NASA Chooses Three Finalists for Future Space Science Mission to Venus, an Asteroid or the Moon

NASA has selected three proposals as candidates for the agency's next space venture to another celestial body in our solar system. The final project selected in mid-2011 may provide a better understanding of Earth's formation or perhaps the origin of life on our planet.

From top to bottom, pictured are the moon, Venus, and an asteroid.From top to bottom, pictured (not to scale) are the moon, Venus, and an asteroid. These three celestial bodies from our solar system are possible candidates for NASA's next space venture. The proposed missions would probe the atmosphere and crust of Venus; return a piece of a near-Earth asteroid for analysis; or drop a robotic lander into a basin at the moon's south pole to return lunar rocks back to Earth for study.

NASA will select one proposal for full development after detailed mission concept studies are completed and reviewed. The studies begin during 2010, and the selected mission must be ready for launch no later than Dec. 30, 2018. Mission cost, excluding the launch vehicle, is limited to $650 million.

"These are projects that inspire and excite young scientists, engineers and the public," said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These three proposals provide the best science value among eight submitted to NASA this year."

Each proposal team initially will receive approximately $3.3 million in 2010 to conduct a 12-month mission concept study that focuses on implementation feasibility, cost, management and technical plans. Studies also will include plans for educational outreach and small business opportunities.

The selected proposals are:

* The Surface and Atmosphere Geochemical Explorer, or SAGE, mission to Venus would release a probe to descend through the planet's atmosphere. During descent, instruments would conduct extensive measurements of the atmosphere's composition and obtain meteorological data. The probe then would land on the surface of Venus, where its abrading tool would expose both a weathered and a pristine surface area to measure its composition and mineralogy. Scientists hope to understand the origin of Venus and why it is so different from Earth. Larry Esposito of the University of Colorado in Boulder, is the principal investigator.
* The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer spacecraft, called Osiris-Rex, would rendezvous and orbit a primitive asteroid. After extensive measurements, instruments would collect more than two ounces of material from the asteriod's surface for return to Earth. The returned samples would help scientists better undertand and answer long-held questions about the formation of our solar system and the origin of complex molecules necessary for life. Michael Drake, of the University of Arizona in Tucson, is the principal investigator.
* MoonRise: Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return Mission would place a lander in a broad basin near the moon's south pole and return approximately two pounds of lunar materials for study. This region of the lunar surface is believed to harbor rocks excavated from the moon's mantle. The samples would provide new insight into the early history of the Earth-moon system. Bradley Jolliff, of Washington University in St. Louis, is the principal investigator.

The proposals were submitted to NASA on July 31, 2009, in response to the New Frontiers Program 2009 Announcement of Opportunity. New Frontiers seeks to explore the solar system with frequent, medium-class spacecraft missions that will conduct high-quality, focused scientific investigations designed to enhance understanding of the solar system.

The final selection will become the third mission in the program. New Horizons, NASA***8217;s first New Frontiers mission, launched in 2006, will fly by the Pluto-Charon system in 2015 then target another Kuiper Belt object for study. The second mission, called Juno, is designed to orbit Jupiter from pole to pole for the first time, conducting an in-depth study of the giant planet's atmosphere and interior. It is slated for launch in August 2011.
a little ofn, but interesting
most people dont think the venus mission will be picked, with osiris coming out ahead by a good margin.
some think if we exclude the moon from the flexible path, that Moonrise will be given to the science community as a consolation prize.
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102 - 01-29-2010, 13:01
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more on a new space suit

Technology Review: NASA's Next Space Suit

The new space suit will consist of two configurations. The first is similar to the current space shuttle escape suit, and it is designed for launch, reentry, and emergency operations in zero gravity and on Earth. It's soft and allows for mobility in the event of pressure loss or in case crew members need to abort.

When existing space suits are pressurized, they tend to stiffen. For the Constellation suits, Barry's team has built in panels of material at the joints--shoulders, elbows, and knees--that keep the volume inside the suit constant, allowing astronauts to easily move. David Clark engineers are also developing breathable materials for the suit, making them more comfortable than the conventional urethane- or neoprene-coated nylon fabrics.

The second configuration of the Constellation space suit, which will be used for lunar excursions, uses the same arms, legs, boots, and helmet. These are snapped onto a new reinforced torso equipped with life support, electronics, and communication systems. Astronauts will also put on an outer garment to protect them from the harsh lunar atmosphere, including micrometeorites. Engineers are also working on enhanced materials to combat the very fine lunar dust, which, as NASA learned from the Apollo missions, can be problematic and hazardous to the crew.

The new design will eliminate many of the hard elements that add weight to current space suits and can injure the crew in the event of a rough landing. Instead, engineers are using lightweight composite structures. Furthermore, astronauts will be able to get in and out of the suit more quickly through a rear zippered entrance, or, for the lunar suit, a rear entry hatch. The current suits are made of two pieces that take three hours and a helping hand to put together.

Barry says that a single modular suit will be cheaper to manufacture and will reduce launch mass and logistical complexity. David Clark Company has built an early prototype that will undergo testing next week at NASA with the new crew exploration vehicle, called Orion, which is also being developed for the Constellation program.

Hill says the first completed suit will be ready for testing in September, and the final suit design will be ready by 2013 and ready for flight in 2015. The lunar suit will incorporate OLED displays and a computer, and will act like a node on the Internet, relaying data back to Earth.

In the coming weeks, the Obama administration will make a decision on the future of U.S. human spaceflight, which could significantly change the direction of the Constellation program. "The bottom line is that if we are going to do manned missions, we need a new space suit," says Hill. And, he adds, "we have made the suit modular for that reason; if they decide to skip the moon and go to Mars, it does not change our architecture."
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103 - 01-29-2010, 13:09
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on the rovers:

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars exploration rover Opportunity is
allowing scientists to get a glimpse deep inside Mars.

Perched on a rippled Martian plain, a dark rock not much bigger than a
basketball was the target of interest for Opportunity during the past
two months. Dubbed "Marquette Island," the rock is providing a better
understanding of the mineral and chemical makeup of the Martian

"Marquette Island is different in composition and character from any
known rock on Mars or meteorite from Mars," said Steve Squyres of
Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Squyres is principal investigator
for Opportunity and its twin, Spirit. "It is one of the coolest
things Opportunity has found in a very long time."

During six years of roving, Opportunity has found only one other rock
of comparable size that scientists conclude was ejected from a
distant crater. The rover studied the first such rock during its
initial three-month mission. Called "Bounce Rock," that rock closely
matched the composition of a meteorite from Mars found on Earth.

Marquette Island is a coarse-grained rock with a basalt composition.
The coarseness indicates it cooled slowly from molten rock, allowing
crystals time to grow. This composition suggests to geologists that
it originated deep in the crust, not at the surface where it would
cool quicker and have finer-grained texture.

"It is from deep in the crust and someplace far away on Mars, though
exactly how deep and how far we can't yet estimate," said Squyres.

The composition of Marquette Island, as well as its texture,
distinguishes it from other Martian basalt rocks that rovers and
landers have examined. Scientists first thought the rock could be
another in a series of meteorites that Opportunity has found.
However, a much lower nickel content in Marquette Island indicates a
Martian origin. The rock's interior contains more magnesium than in
typical Martian basalt rocks Spirit has studied. Researchers are
determining whether it might represent the precursor rock altered
long ago by sulfuric acid to become the sulfate-rich sandstone
bedrock that blankets the region of Mars that Opportunity is

"It's like having a fragment from another landing site," said Ralf
Gellert of the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada. Gellert is
lead scientist for the alpha particle X-ray spectrometer on
Opportunity's robotic arm. "With analysis at an early stage, we're
still working on some riddles about this rock."

The rover team used Opportunity's rock abrasion tool to grind away
some of Marquette Island's weathered surface and expose the interior.
This was the 38th rock target Opportunity has ground into, and one of
the hardest. The tool was designed to grind into one Martian rock,
and this rock may not be its last.

"We took a conservative approach on our target depth for this grind to
ensure we will have enough of the bit left to grind the next hard
rock that Opportunity comes across," said Joanna Cohen of Honeybee
Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corp., in New York, which built and
operates the tool.

Opportunity currently is about 30 percent of the way on a 12-mile trek
begun in mid-2008 from a crater it studied for two years. It is en
route toward a much larger crater, Endeavour. The rover traveled 3.3
miles in 2009, farther than in any other year on Mars. Opportunity
drove away from Marquette Island on Jan. 12.

"We're on the road again," said Mike Seibert, a rover mission manager
at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The year
ahead will include lots more driving, if all goes well. We'll keep
pushing for Endeavour crater but watch for interesting targets along
the way where we can stop and smell the roses."

Since landing on Mars in 2004, Opportunity has made numerous
scientific discoveries, including the first mineralogical evidence
that Mars had liquid water. After working 24 times longer than
originally planned, Opportunity has driven more than 11 miles and
returned more than 133,000 images. JPL manages the rovers for NASA's
Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
and of course, spirit has been turned into an unmovable science platform
here's more on that


WASHINGTON -- After six years of unprecedented exploration of the Red
Planet, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit no longer will be a
fully mobile robot. NASA has designated the once-roving scientific
explorer a stationary science platform after efforts during the past
several months to free it from a sand trap have been unsuccessful.

The venerable robot's primary task in the next few weeks will be to
position itself to combat the severe Martian winter. If Spirit
survives, it will continue conducting significant new science from
its final location. The rover's mission could continue for several
months to years.

"Spirit is not dead; it has just entered another phase of its long
life," said Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program
at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We told the world last year that
attempts to set the beloved robot free may not be successful. It
looks like Spirit's current location on Mars will be its final
resting place."

Ten months ago, as Spirit was driving south beside the western edge of
a low plateau called Home Plate, its wheels broke through a crusty
surface and churned into soft sand hidden underneath.

After Spirit became embedded, the rover team crafted plans for trying
to get the six-wheeled vehicle free using its five functioning wheels
-the sixth wheel quit working in 2006, limiting Spirit's mobility.
The planning included experiments with a test rover in a sandbox at
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., plus analysis,
modeling and reviews. In November, another wheel quit working, making
a difficult situation even worse.

Recent drives have yielded the best results since Spirit became
embedded. However, the coming winter mandates a change in strategy.
It is mid-autumn at the solar-powered robot's home on Mars. Winter
will begin in May. Solar energy is declining and expected to become
insufficient to power further driving by mid-February. The rover team
plans to use those remaining potential drives for improving the
rover's tilt. Spirit currently tilts slightly toward the south. The
winter sun stays in the northern sky, so decreasing the southward
tilt would boost the amount of sunshine on the rover's solar panels.

"We need to lift the rear of the rover, or the left side of the rover,
or both," said Ashley Stroupe, a rover driver at JPL. "Lifting the
rear wheels out of their ruts by driving backward and slightly uphill
will help. If necessary, we can try to lower the front right of the
rover by attempting to drop the right-front wheel into a rut or dig
it into a hole."

At its current angle, Spirit probably would not have enough power to
keep communicating with Earth through the Martian winter. Even a few
degrees of improvement in tilt might make enough difference to enable
communication every few days.

"Getting through the winter will all come down to temperature and how
cold the rover electronics will get," said John Callas, project
manager at JPL for Spirit and its twin rover, Opportunity. "Every bit
of energy produced by Spirit's solar arrays will go into keeping the
rover's critical electronics warm, either by having the electronics
on or by turning on essential heaters."

Even in a stationary state, Spirit continues scientific research.

"There's a class of science we can do only with a stationary vehicle
that we had put off during the years of driving," said Steve Squyres,
a researcher at Cornell University and principal investigator for
Spirit and Opportunity. "Degraded mobility does not mean the mission
ends abruptly. Instead, it lets us transition to stationary science."

One stationary experiment Spirit has begun studies tiny wobbles in the
rotation of Mars to gain insight about the planet's core. This
requires months of radio-tracking the motion of a point on the
surface of Mars to calculate long-term motion with an accuracy of a
few inches.

"If the final scientific feather in Spirit's cap is determining
whether the core of Mars is liquid or solid, that would be wonderful
-- it's so different from the other knowledge we've gained from
Spirit," said Squyres.

Tools on Spirit's robotic arm can study variations in the composition
of nearby soil, which has been affected by water. Stationary science
also includes watching how wind moves soil particles and monitoring
the Martian atmosphere.

Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in January 2004. They have been
exploring for six years, far surpassing their original 90-day
mission. Opportunity currently is driving toward a large crater
called Endeavor and continues to make scientific discoveries. It has
driven approximately 12 miles and returned more than 133,000 images.
emphasis mine
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Last edited by Goshin; 01-29-2010 at 13:13..
104 - 01-29-2010, 13:18
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one more artcile, on the new MSL, which is 1 metric ton and the size of a small car. A bigger rover yay!

NASA moves forward with Mars exploration plan -

NASA has big plans for its Mars Exploration Program.

As it decides the future of one of the two rovers exploring the planet, the agency is looking to the launch of the newest generation of robotic explorer next year.

In addition, NASA tells CNN Radio that the agency is close to a deal to merge its Mars program with that of the European Space Agency, a big step toward manned missions.

NASA's Mars rover program is now heading into its sixth year. The rovers Spirit and Opportunity were launched in 2004 and landed on opposite sides of Mars for what was to be a 90-day exploration mission.

Almost six years and a wealth of information later, the rovers were still ranging across the planet until recently, sending back data to researchers on Earth.

Spirit stumbled into a sand trap nine months ago, however, and all efforts to free the vehicle have failed. In fact, the latest attempts resulted in it sinking even deeper into the soil.

NASA could make a decision as soon as next month, during its annual review, on whether to continue rescue efforts, the agency says.

"At this point, we intend to have the independent board look at our situation with Spirit and give us any additional recommendations as to whether we should continue to try and extract it or not, " said Doug McCuistion, the director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program.

Even if the sand trap becomes Spirit's final resting place, the rover's mission may not be over quite yet. McCuistion, calling Spirit an incredible success, said there are certainly things the lame rover can do scientifically, even if it's not mobile.

"The types of science we could do if it were stationary include imagery. The seasons change. We're going into winter now on Mars. And certainly the way the climate changes, the way weather changes, the way the weather patterns work, is something we can continue to monitor and learn more about," he said.

"There's a potential we can do some other geologic work, such as seismology, which is related to impacts of meteorites on the surface. ... That is actually science that has never been done and is very important to understand. There's even the potential to continue some geological work in regards to soil composition and makeup."

In the meantime, NASA is preparing for the launch of its newest robotic space exploration vehicle, the Mars Science Laboratory, late next year. It weighs roughly one metric ton and is about the size of a small automobile.

The MSL rover, in addition to carrying cameras and other instrumentation, will carry a series of chemistry laboratories. And it will have the ability to test material in vastly different areas of the planet.

"There hasn't been a mission, not only as complex but as capable, since the Viking landers in the '70s went to the surface. The real difference is, this one can move around," McCuistion said.

The MSL, when it arrives on Mars in 2012, barring any unforeseen delays, "will take science on the surface of another planet to a completely different step," he said.

But what about a manned mission to Mars? Is that a near-term possibility, or is it much farther down the road?

Before any human can travel to Mars, scientists need to be able to analyze samples from the planet and answer many questions, NASA says. Martian dust, for example: What is its composition? How sticky is it? Will it stick to boots and clog zippers and Velcro fasteners? Is it toxic? If astronauts track surface materials into their habitat, will it cause problems?

Those are just some of the questions; there are hundreds more.

Undoubtedly, humans are still years away from paying a personal visit.

"That's a very challenging mission of launching something from here, putting it into orbit at Mars, getting it to the surface and collecting samples, getting those samples back into orbit, then return them to Earth," McCuistion said. "This is a mission that will change our understanding of Mars and change our understanding of planetary science significantly. It really needs to be a global effort."

Toward that end, NASA and the European Space Agency have been in discussions over the past year on merging their Mars exploration programs. NASA officials say they've now taken a major step forward.

"The European Space Agency's council and their program board have agreed to the terms that we're working with and have endorsed this partnership to go forward. So we are starting the new year with a renewed excitement for missions beginning in 2016 to be done in a joint partnership between Europe and NASA," McCuistion said.

With details remaining to be worked out, he predicted that it will take another six to 12 months for the merger to be completed.

The European agency is making major progress on landing technology, which is essential for not only getting samples from Mars back to Earth but for eventual human travel to Mars, he said.

The European Space Agency's Mars Express mission is orbiting the planet right now. McCuistion said it has been involved in reaffirming observations made from the ground about methane potentially being in the atmosphere of Mars, which is a huge discovery over the past couple years.

McCuistion described the Mars Exploration Program as an exciting collaboration of many missions with the intent of changing the text books on the planet.

"We have accelerated our knowledge of the planet dramatically by sending missions every other year," he said.

"So we will continue that thread, and we will continue to change science as we do it."
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105 - 01-30-2010, 12:11
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MAF provide positive ET hardware overview for early SD HLV test flight |
The Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) have confirmed they have almost enough External Tank resources to allow for one ET-sized ***8220;In Line***8221; Shuttle Derived Heavy Launch Vehicle (SD HLV) test flight and up to three Block I SD HLVs. The news comes as NASA managers insist the workforce should wait for official news, and not to be distracted by reports on Ares***8217; demise.

Bolden***8217;s Key Speech:

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will make the most important speech of his short tenure thus far on Monday, with the first clues on what will be a new direction for the Agency set to be revealed ***8211; based on the agency***8217;s fiscal year 2011 budget.

As reported by on January 23, Ares I and Ares V***8217;s battle to cling on to life ***8211; an uphill battle since 2008, when the internal schedules started to dramatically slip via funding and technical issues ***8211; was coming to an end, along with an obvious omission of a lunar program in NASA***8217;s own interpretations of the Augustine Committee-driven Flexible Path plan.

A few days later, some of the mass media ***8211; led by the Orlando Sentinel ***8211; took the news a stage further, citing ***8220;insiders***8221; as claiming the aforementioned were being officially cut from NASA***8217;s future.

With the Sentinel***8217;s article paraphrased and syndicated throughout the mass media and several other space sites, Constellation managers decided to act, informing the workforce on their official position.

***8220;Orion Team: A few news bureaus and bloggers have been reporting on some major changes coming our way. Sometimes the number of reports gives the impression of validity when in fact they are all reporting on the same rumor,***8221; noted Orion Project manager Mark Geyer, via one of several memos acquired by L2.

***8220;I can tell you that I have not received any direction or information that would confirm what they are saying. That being said, it wouldn***8217;t surprise me to find out that there will be some changes announced next week and that they may be significant.

***8220;Again, I have no specific information on what that might be.***8221;
While Ares I***8217;s role for International Space Station (ISS) missions heads to a commercial service provider, the HLV will be contracted out ***8211; not unlike NASA already does to some extent with the shuttle ***8211; moving to a multi-company effort led by Boeing, partnering with Alliant Techsystems, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and United Space Alliance (USA), with heavy NASA involvement from Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).

As to how soon this vehicle will be developed will depend largely on available funding, with the question of shuttle extension still lacking a definitive answer, along with how the NASA budget will be reallocated over the next 10 years, based on purchasing commercial flight services to an ISS that will be extended to 2020.

While those questions are yet to be officially addressed, NASA managers are pushing forward at a healthy pace to work towards an ***8220;early***8221; test flight of what is now heavily confirmed as based on the DIRECT team***8217;s Jupiter-241 Stretched Heavy Launch Vehicle.

The early indications of achieving a fast-track approach to the SD HLV ***8211; especially when compared to the sluggish pace of Ares V***8217;s development ***8211; are extremely encouraging, with the Space Shuttle Program (SSP) confirming available materials and required tooling are largely in place to construct a test flight vehicle, likely based on a normal ***8220;Shuttle***8221; ET core.

This vehicle ***8220;could be ready to fly around late 2012***8243; according to MAF sources, which points to a regular shuttle Main Propulsion System (MPS) with three Space Shuttle Main Engines, along with two four segment Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB***8217;s).
Early information also indicates that this new approach is receiving significant support within the US Congress, as it provides the needed means to transition from Shuttle to the new program with all the same benefits Ares was intended to produce.

Even the long-time Constellation supporter, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) is understood to be supportive of this alternate plan, along with many of his colleagues.

This points to Constellation efforts to continue to work the full POR (Program Of Record) despite the defunding of the Altair Program, likely in the hope of additional funding to return Constellation back on track to some extent ***8211; as much as that now appears to be a lost cause.

***8220;We***8217;re all seeing much in the press regarding the future of human space flight. I can***8217;t predict how the current round of Cx second guessing is going to go. We have a Cx program and are continuing the work until/unless national space policy changes,***8221; noted MOD head Paul Hill on another address to the workforce. ***8220;If that happens, we***8217;ll reshape our plans and move out accordingly.
much more info at the link, with pictures and links to other prior mentioned articles relating to the topics at hand
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106 - 01-30-2010, 12:37
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by the way dick bags, that last post is probably on the way to being the biggest thing to happen in years at nasa

on monday we confirm the direction
hopefully it allows the above to happen (move to direct and flexible path)
sustainable, cheap, fast, and modular
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107 - 01-30-2010, 12:39
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oh well at least the HLV uses SSME which means it wont **** with UTC PWR too much, so im happy
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108 - 02-01-2010, 16:01
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According to NASA Admin General Bolden, he states:
ISS to 2020(+)
Space Shuttle "5-flight remaining manifest"
R&D for infrastructure enabling human exp of solar system
Commercial to LEO
Earth obs/climate change
Green aviation

CxP: stick a fork in it
"we were not on a sustainable path to get back to moon's surface"
"neglecting investments in key tech to get beyond moon"

Ares 1, Ares V, Orion CEV -- CANCELLED

7.8b over five years - in innovation - orbit refuelling etc.
3.1b over five years agressive HLV program.
4.9b over five years for broad space tech program.

6 billion more to NASA over 5 years

actually may be better. Lots of people believed NASA needed to get back into R&D, rather than building their own rocket (which they havent done in decades and, as seen by the ares debacle, semi-suck at)

No real development funding for HLV until 2016, only research until that time.

hm hm hm
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Last edited by Goshin; 02-01-2010 at 16:05..
109 - 02-01-2010, 16:34
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Commercial competition will see industry define the vehicles and timelines for crew and cargo. They will tell us what they can provide.

Ares would have been 2017/18, this closes the gap. 2016 is the goal for Commercial, but will try and accelerate and beat that date.

Lori Garver is saying it between the lines. Of course she can not come out and say it since there will be a bid process.

Logically, what happens next is that a group of OLD-space companies (ala USA) bids a DIRECT type SD-HLV and gets the bid because that is what can get to market quickest and cheapest.

They are privatizing this. This is not a bad day!
the rest of the info presented in the last two posts are quotes from Lori Garver during a televised budget discussion

we'll see
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Buk Naked
110 - 02-01-2010, 16:59
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I thought Obama just **** canned all of this.
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111 - 02-01-2010, 17:10
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no, what you're reading in the last few posts is the implications of his budget
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112 - 02-02-2010, 09:19
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a different perspective on all of this

1. First of all, Obama doesn't hate space, nor does he hate freedom, or the U.S.A., or the Moon landing. That kind of dopey rhetorical demonization doesn't bring any useful discussion. I've heard words out of him that seem to indicate that he realizes that space exploration has the singular ability to inspire children in the U.S. to enter science and engineering, which is as much as I could hope for from any politician.

2. It should be noted as a matter of record that the Democratic party wrote human exploration of the solar system into its original political party platform for a full decade, and Apollo rose politically from the minds of guys like Johnson and Anderson. The Republicans fought like hell against human exploration for budgetary reasons and the Nixon administration finally killed it, somewhat illegally as a matter of fact, by reassigning funds allocated by Congress for keeping programs alive to NASA administration, for which the Supreme Court slapped them on the wrist after everyone had disbanded and gone home. These were young budget hawks with names like George Schultz, Bob Mayo and John Ehrlichman.

3. It should also be noted as a matter of record that the Space Transportation System (yes, that STS) was originally comprised of a few shuttles, a space station/propellant depot, and nuclear tugs. As proposed with just a couple of tugs it was capable of putting 100,000 pounds in orbit around all nine planets in a two-year time frame. Note the use of the word "propellant", not "fuel". "Propellant" is the only term that's correct in this context.

4. The battle over space in the 1960's was budget versus vision, both laudable values in view of the fact that the space budget was in the range of 3% of the total government budget and projected to reach 5% if we went to Mars, as planned, by 1978. Nuclear rocket testing had gone well and by 1968 we were up to 1 hour (!) run times and ISPs of 825, and the run times were limited by the limit of a million gallons of propellant. Testing nuclear rockets in space after about 1962 had become a political, not a technical issue, because budget hawks had realized that a) Mars was an open-ended budgetary nightmare and b) they could kill manned space exploration for the extended duration by killing nuclear propulsion. Numerous people testified in Congress that without nuclear we couldn't really get out of LEO in any sustained fashion, until they realized they had just painted a big red target on the nuclear rocket program.

5. Assuming we had DIRECT 3.0 tomorrow morning on the pad, with two or three years' budget to run it, we would still be stuck in LEO, and in fact even more so having spent our space budget going nowhere. We could take tiny cargos to the Moon and bring back even tinier cargos a la Apollo. We couldn't take enough payload to do any real in situ colonization experiments, support lunar basing, or learn anything lasting or valuable beyond what we learned in 1969.

Chemical ISPs are too low to get humans beyond LEO. We knew that then, we know it now. We cannot support human settlements anywhere else in the solar system including the Moon with chemical rockets.

What's the goal here, guys? The last time I checked it wasn't fielding DIRECT, it was human exploration of the solar system, at the very least. Practically speaking we can't support lunar basing or space stations beyond LEO without ISPs of at least 800. Trying to explore the solar system, even the Moon, with chemical rockets calls for huge, intractably-expensive and politically unfeasible missions. The people at NASA behind Constellation at least can excuse themselves by pleading "jobs program". Many of the people on this forum have no such excuse.

My preliminary assessment of what's been proposed for NASA is a freaking candy store for space exploration fans. They're throwing money at higher (non-chemical) ISPs, propellant depots and space tugs. They're throwing money at reusable crew return vehicles. They're throwing money at developing new technologies that they hope will encourage space tourism in LEO. They're throwing money at long-term human habitation and actually doing science on the space station. They're trying to encourage more players to get into the transportation business, hopefully fostering a little innovation beyond our early-1970's technology. And they're throwing money at first-stage HLV technologies, which is where money got cut in the early shuttle days.

These are all the things we've needed.

These are all the things we've needed.

These are all the things we've needed.

Assuming the public doesn't line up to oppose what may be the smartest space policy we've ever had, what happens over the next few years could very well give us the tools to explore the rest of the solar system, including the Moon.

Real exploration. Within budgets that Congress might actually approve.

Don't get so wrapped up in DIRECT that you lose sight of the real goal. I'd love to see the SSME get a little more development money and reach the reliability level of the RL-10. I'd love to see a follow-on shuttle, for that matter, with all of its capabilities and none of its vulnerabilities. Unlike a lot of my commercial space friends, I firmly believe in heavy lifters. But these and many other technologies are tools, not end products.

The public needs to be educated concerning what a miraculous and wonderful thing has transpired in the U.S. space program. In order for that to happen, folks like the ones who read this forum need to figure out why it's so miraculous and then go explain it ad nauseum. Obama may have sacrificed any chance he may have had left to be reelected with just this one decision, and I would hate to see this wonderful bit of progress swept away through the failure of the American public to realize what's finally been done. For this brief moment the American space program is not a political propaganda tool. It's exactly what it should be.

With all due respect, everybody on this forum needs to get on board.

Dave Klingler
essentially, R&D into things we really need (which is true...reusable tugs and prop depots would open up space like crazy hard)
Goshin is offline
113 - 02-05-2010, 09:26
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do you dudes know about Titan, and other moons around Saturn?
well, they may be water filled and delicious!
European scientists on the joint NASA/ESA Cassini mission have detected, for the first time, sodium salts in ice grains of Saturn's E-ring, which is primarily replenished by material from the plumes of water vapour and ice grains emitted by Saturn***8217;s moon Enceladus. The detection of salty ice indicates that the little moon harbours a reservoir of liquid water, perhaps even an ocean, beneath its surface.
More at:
ESA - Cassini-Huygens - Cassini finding hints at ocean within Saturn?s moon Enceladus

Titan is the only moon in our solar system with a substantial atmosphere, and its climate shares Earth-like characteristics. Titan's dense, nitrogen-methane atmosphere responds much more slowly than Earth's atmosphere, as it receives about 100 times less sunlight because it is 10 times farther from the sun. Seasons on Titan last more than seven Earth years.
New Titan movies and images are providing a bird's-eye view of the moon's Earth-like landscapes.

The new flyover maps show, for the first time, the 3-D topography and height of the 1,200-meter (4,000-foot) mountain tops, the north polar lake country, the vast dunes more than 100 meters (300 feet) high that crisscross the moon, and the thick flows that may have oozed from possible ice volcanoes.
Our measurements imply that besides table salt, the grains also
contain carbonates like soda. Both components are in concentrations
that match the predicted composition of an Enceladus ocean," Postberg
said. "The carbonates also provide a slightly alkaline pH value. If
the liquid source is an ocean, it could provide a suitable
environment on Enceladus for the formation of life precursors when
coupled with the heat measured near the moon's south pole and the
organic compounds found within the plumes."
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Last edited by Goshin; 02-05-2010 at 10:06..
114 - 02-05-2010, 10:21
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was there a thread on TW about this?

NASA - Suspected Asteroid Collision Leaves Odd X-Pattern of Trailing Debris
Flunky is offline
115 - 02-05-2010, 10:26
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no, but i did see that on some website thing

maybe it was here
i dunno i'm hung over

that's an interesting article though. Solar winds are pushing the debris around to make trails and such, making it look like an X
said they collided at 11K mph

for those not reading any updates...4 moons or something around Saturn have liquid water or water ice or whatever (sometimes probable oceans) giving a possible life on another planet. Also Cassini was extended from 2008 to 2010, and 2 days ago received an extension till 2017 to keep studying saturn and the moons

Goshin is offline
116 - 02-16-2010, 20:39
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anyway **** triple's space thread

read fthis thread for info on prop depots and everything else

ask questions and i'll hopefully answer
Goshin is offline
117 - 02-16-2010, 20:41
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I wish I was born in a couple hundred years when space travel was actually realistic.

Also there's an asteroid that's going to come within like 20k miles in a few years and there's skepticism that the Earth's gravity might alter it so that its next pass will hit.
WarBuddha is offline
Last edited by WarBuddha; 02-16-2010 at 20:43..
118 - 02-16-2010, 20:48
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Asteroid Collisions Danger
was that what you're talking about?

he result of an impact by 2002 NT7 would be destruction of ***8220;biblical proportions***8221; as Billy Bob Thornton***8217;s character says in Armageddon, but, don***8217;t panic yet. "One way or another, this thing is coming off the risk page," said Donald Yeomans. He calculates the odds of a strike at about one in 250,000, and says those odds will likely be adjusted even lower.

It appears that we dodged a bullet this time with asteroid 2002 NT7. NASA's Near Earth Object Program released this statement:

"With the processing of a few more observations of asteroid 2002 NT7 through July 28, we can now rule out any Earth impact possibilities for February 1, 2019. While we cannot yet completely rule out an impact possibility on February 1, 2060, it seems very likely that this possibility will be soon ruled out as well as additional positional observations are processed.
and yes to being born a few hundred years later dammit

also, the orbital period for these things means if it's a miss now, it comes back 40 years later. hopefully we are tracking it, and getting **** done to move it around (like put a vasimir type propulsion system on it and slightly moving it over a few decades, or ****, even capturing it between earth and the moon owned asteroid)
Goshin is offline
119 - 02-16-2010, 20:50
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Originally Posted by telos View Post
I can think of another one.

Sending my ass to Mars.

if they told me I could go in a group of 6-8 people to mars to be left there with no hope of coming back but the supplies to live a relatively long life and daily movies sent from earth I'd do it
You lead a very depressing life evidently.
Apathy is offline
120 - 02-16-2010, 20:50
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Earth***146;s gravity may lure deadly asteroid - Times Online
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