Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

A Mars Record for the Ages: "This is a special year for Mars. Already the planet is shining big and bright in the southeastern sky before dawn, and it's drawing closer to us week by week. For four weeks from mid-August through early September, Mars will be nearer to Earth, and appear bigger in a telescope, than it has since 1988. And at its very closest, it will be a hair closer than it has been in many, many years.
But how many? Various different figures are being reported in different places; some are clearly wrong. Sky & Telescope sorted through the situation to find the authoritative answer.
On August 27, 2003, at 9:51 Universal Time, the centers of Earth and Mars will be only 55,758,006 kilometers (34,646,418 miles) apart. The U.S. Naval Observatory's MICA software and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's DE406 planetary ephemeris agree on this value for the true geometric distance.
There has been some confusion about this because another authoritative source, JPL Horizons gives a time five minutes earlier and a separation 86 km closer. But Horizons expresses all solar-system distances in 'apparent' rather than geometric form, which takes into account the motions of Earth and Mars during the time it takes for light to travel between the two bodies. There is no actual discrepancy.
Mars will indeed be truly close. As Belgian astronomers Edwin Goffin and Jean Meeus wrote long ago, 'In August, 2003, Mars will come closer to Earth than at any time in the last several thousand years, and an even slightly closer approach will take place in the year 2287' (Sky & Telescope: August 1978, page 107). They also explained why. During recent millennia Mars's orbit has been getting slightly more eccentric (elongated) due to the gravitational attractions of other planets. Each passing century brings Mars a little closer to the Sun at perihelion, and a little farther from the Sun at aphelion.
Ranger Takes Close-Up Moon Photos Revealing Craters Only 3 Feet Wide; Data Gained on Landing Site for Man: "This event took place on July 31, 1964, and was reported in the The New York Times the following day.
Read the full text of The Times article or other headlines from the day"

You may be interested in reading more about the Ranger series at NASA History.

Lunar Impact
Lunar Impact: A History of Project Ranger (Washington, D.C.: NASA SP-4210, 1977) by R. Cargill Hall. As the preface begins, "Ranger was the first successful American project of lunar exploration." This robotic spacecraft project of the early 1960s laid the groundwork for Project Apollo and much future robotic space science work. Hall tells an engaging story, complete with failures as well as triumphs and the scientific, engineering, and political struggles in between. Special thanks go to volunteer Dirk Stoffels for formatting the text and images of this book for the Web.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Los Alamos Releases New Maps Of Mars Water: "Los Alamos - Jul 25, 2003
'Breathtaking' new maps of likely sites of water on Mars showcase their association with geologic features such as Vallis Marineris, the largest canyon in the solar system."
AMNH - Black Smokers: "

Black Smoker

You've probably seen or heard of natural hot springs on land, like Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park. Similar phenomena occur under the oceans within midocean ridge volcanoes and are called deep-sea hydrothermal (hot water) vents. They are known as black smokers, like the ones seen above. These black smokers are chimneylike structures made up of sulfur-bearing minerals or sulfides that come from beneath Earth's crust. They form when hot (roughly 350�C), mineral-rich water flows out onto the ocean floor through the volcanic lava on a mid-ocean ridge volcano.

See link above for more info - LRK -

Sulfide minerals grow or crystallize from the hot water directly onto the volcanic rocks at the place where the hot, mineral-rich water flows from the ground. This crystallization forms a hollow, chimneylike sulfide structure through which the hot water continues to flow. As the hot, mineral-rich water rushes out of this chimney and mixes with the cold ocean bottom water, it precipitates a variety of minerals as tiny particles that make the the vent water appear black in color. This is why these sulfide chimney structures are called black smokers. "
772 kb
The Ice Towers of Mt. Erebus as analogues of biological refuges on Mars N. Hoffman1 and P. R. Kyle2, 1White
Mars Research Program, School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Email
2Dept of Earth & Environmental Science, NM Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, New Mexico Tech, Socorro,
White Mars: "Mars' surface shows dramatic erosion channels that have conventionally been interpreted as the result of catastrophic outbursts of liquid water. Yet, everything we know about Mars argues that it is drier than the Earth, and all its water should be locked up as subsurface ice. At the present day, only isolated sunny slopes near the equator transiently warm to the melting point of ice at noon, and in the past the sun was cooler. In attempting to explain the flood channels as evidence of liquid water, planetary scientists have developed a host of concepts and models which are generally unworkable, often impossible, and collectively raise more problems than they solve. "
Upcoming LPI-Sponsored Meetings: "Sixth International Conference on Mars
July 20�25, 2003, Pasadena, California

66th Annual Meteoritical Society Meeting
July 28�August 1, 2003, M�nster, Germany

Third International Conference on Large Meteorite Impacts
August 5�7, 2003, N�rdlingen, Germany

Workshop on Cometary Dust in Astrophysics
August 10�15, 2003, Crystal Mountain, Washington

Third International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration
October 13�17, 2003, Alberta, Canada

Workshop on Europa's Icy Shell: Past, Present, and Future
February 6�8, 2004, Houston, Texas"
New Scientist: "Unusual warm spots on Mars might represent 'ice towers' similar to those seen in Antarctica, say researchers. They could even harbour life, Nick Hoffman of Melbourne University told a conference on Thursday.
Hoffman detected warm spots in the Hellas Basin after scrutinising infrared images taken with THEMIS, the heat-sensing camera on the Mars Odyssey orbiter. The spots are between 20 and 40 degrees warmer than their surroundings both night and day, and irrespective of whether they are being hit by sunlight.
The simplest explanation, claims Hoffman, is that the warm spots are caused by some kind of geothermal activity causing the release of water vapour. If so, they could resemble the ice towers found on Mount Erebus, an active volcano on Ross Island in Antarctica, where the conditions are almost as cold and dry as on Mars.
The Mount Erebus towers are 10-metre tall chimneys of ice and are found nowhere else on Earth. They are created when the steam from volcanic vents hits the intense cold of the Antarctic air and condenses directly into ice, says to Hoffman's colleague Phil Kyle of New Mexico Tech in Socorro."

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | Pluto explorer to launch atop Atlas 5 rocket: "

Pluto explorer to launch atop Atlas 5 rocket
Posted: July 23, 2003; Updated July 24 with Mars orbiter on Atlas 5

NASA has tapped Lockheed Martin's Atlas 5 rocket to launch the world's first robotic expedition to the planet Pluto. The New Horizons mission is scheduled for launch in January 2006. "

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Post-Columbia NASA hunkers down: " THESE COMMENTS come as part of NASA�s hunkering down in anticipation of being seriously skewered by the report now being written by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The group, often referred to as the Gehman Committee after the retired admiral who chairs it, has already issued its technical explanation of the loss of Columbia and its seven astronauts on Feb. 1. The main thrust of their other report, due for release by the end of August, will be how NASA�s culture allowed the disaster to happen.
The impromptu press roundtable at NASA�s Johnson Space Center in Houston was organized to discuss documents that the space agency had just released that morning. These were transcripts of meetings of the Mission Management Team, the group that provides day-to-day decisions during human space missions. The tapes had been made in January and transcribed in the first week of February, and after six months NASA had gotten around to releasing them to the public.
The NASA official in charge of the Mission Management Team meetings was Linda Ham, an experienced flight control engineer and flight director. Along with fellow Mission Control Center management representative Philip Engelauf and flight director Leroy Cain (who had been on duty during the Columbia descent on Feb. 1), Ham answered questions from reporters during the half-hour roundtable."
Welcome To Spacecraft Films: "'I have viewed the entire Apollo 15 series you published, and found it to be outstanding. You have really done a great job and a great service to all who remember that era. Thanks for your interest and dedication to the ancient past.' - Al Worden, Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot"
Apollo 11: "At 12:15 p.m. EDT July 24 the Apollo 11's command module Columbia splashed down in the mid-Pacific, about 24 kilometers from the recovery ship U.S.S. Hornet. Following decontamination procedures at the point of splashdown, the astronauts were carried by helicopter to the Hornet where they entered a mobile quarantine facility to begin a period of observation under strict quarantine conditions. The CM was recovered and removed to the quarantine facility. Sample containers and film were flown to Houston."
collectSPACE - news - "Kranz biopic to air on History Channel"
June 4 -- A new documentary based on former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz's autobiography, "Failure Is Not An Option" premieres on The History Channel on Tuesday, August 24 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Produced by Lone Wolf Pictures (TBS "Moon Shot") and narrated by Scott Glenn (Alan Shepard in "The Right Stuff"), "Failure Is Not An Option" provides an insider's view of the engineers in Mission Control

Friday, July 18, 2003

Sooooo - where is the money to be made? - LRK - - Boeing drops commercial satellite launches - Jul. 17, 2003: "CHICAGO (Reuters) -- Boeing Co. said this week it intends to focus its launch business for satellites on the U.S. government market only, abandoning commercial launches, as a slump continues with no recovery seen.
As a result, Boeing is eliminating all launches for the commercial sector that were expected over the next five years, said James Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems business on a conference call.
Boeing has been talking to the U.S. government about getting higher prices for its satellite launches along with additional funds to keep two players launching military satellites -- Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp.. But Albaugh told reporters and analysts the current contracts assume no price increases or additional funding.
To help turn around the struggling satellite business, Boeing also said it is naming David Swain, currently chief technology officer for the company, to the post of chief operating officer for the overall military business. "
You may find this Russian web site interesting too. - LRK -

S.P.Korolev RSC Energia - SEA LAUNCH SYSTEM: "

The Sea Launch project is the world's first purely commercial international venture to develop and operate a sea-based space launch system. The main objective of this project is to provide commercial services for launching spacecraft (SC) from a mobile sea-based launch platform. The project assumes that most of the SC will be launched into the geostationary orbit from an equatorial launch site located in the Pacific Ocean near Christmas Island.
The implementation of this project became possible after an international Sea Launch venture was established, and the partners and their subcontractors have completed a large scope of research and development activities including a first demo launch.
It is expensive to go to space and you look for deep pockets where you can find them. Using a governments help doesn't always push the price down. Now what happens if you go it on your own and you come in cheaper than the other government funded company, especially if you can also get the government funding. hmmmm

You may find this article very interesting.


The Atlantic | May 2003 | Long Shot | Easterbrook: "Long Shot

Defying the odds, even before the recent loss of the space shuttle Columbia, an eccentric company called Sea Launch has become the first private enterprise to send large rockets into space—from an enormous floating launch pad that sails to the equator for blast-off. Has the era of private space travel begun?

by Gregg Easterbrook

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

"5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Goodbye, Columbia" by Gregg Easterbrook
This April 1980 Washington Monthly cover story on the problems and progress of NASA's space shuttle program was written one year before Columbia's first launch in 1981.

The most expensive flying machine ever constructed sputtered and smacked through the low waves, kicking up spray, straining mightily to take flight. It had been bobbing by the dock in Long Beach harbor for two days that November of 1947. Now the Spruce Goose was trying to fly. People couldn't take their eyes off it. Who could comprehend its size! Three hundred-foot wingspan, seven-story tail, 200 tons of plane with room for 700 soldiers. It upstaged even the ocean liners lounging nearby. There it was, $25 million worth of prototype seaplane, skating along toward take-off, engines cackling and fuming. Howard Hughes, America's most publicized aviator, designed it, swore by it, and was at the controls. "If it doesn't fly, I'll leave the country forever," he had promised. Now his Spruce Goose was churning through the water, trying to lurch skyward, better get up soon or we'll run out of harbor ....


The Spruce Goose remains today in the hangar where it came to rest 33 years ago. The record for most expensive flying machine has long since been surpassed. There's something heavier, too. Down at Cape Kennedy the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is tinkering with the champion, the $1 billion, 2,300 ton space shuttle Columbia. Columbia is the first of at least four space shuttles. It will blast into space like a rocket, and sail back like an airplane. It isn't a "capsule," as they called the Mercury orbiters, or a "module," as they called the Apollo moon machine. It's a spaceship, designed to be used over and over again, instead of thrown away like a rocket. Much cheaper than rockets, much more versatile, it is the key to the next phase of space exploration. The space shuttle is to the Apollo module what the DC-3 was to Wright's flyer. With a fleet of these ....


The End Of US Manned Spaceflight Looms Ever Closer

Here are some things to consider while you're looking up:

This leads to several articles. In the author makes a number of amazing assertions, including:

"The basic Atlas V costs only a little more
than the $60M Shuttle external tank!"

"Since many people still think that manned space
flight is some kind of measure of national power
(thank you, Nikita Khrushchev!) the first Chinese
flight will produce another Sputnik Shock and pressure
to continue a spectacular US manned program will be

Do the conclusions in "A Modest Proposal" seem reasonable?

Thanks Dan - LRK -
HP iPAQ Pocket PCs to be Onboard TransOrbital's First Commercial Moon Mission

Newly Introduced HP iPAQ h5550 to Facilitate Wireless Communication in Space


HP (NYSE:HPQ) plans to launch its HP iPAQ Pocket PCs into outer space onboard TransOrbital's TrailBlazer spacecraft, the first commercial mission to gain approval from U.S. authorities to explore, photograph and land on the moon, later this year.

With an early 2004 launch date approaching, TransOrbital looked to the newly introduced HP iPAQ Pocket PC h5550's innovative engineering, mobility, simplicity and ease of use to facilitate wireless communication within the satellite. The handheld device will integrate with the TrailBlazer systems on board the spacecraft to enable TransOrbital to effortlessly synchronize and share data while in space, during transit to the moon and while orbiting the moon.

During subsequent launches, it is anticipated that the HP iPAQ Pocket PCs will be used for wireless communication with cameras that are tethered on the outside of the spacecraft to provide superior video streaming capabilities for display on Earth. Future applications for the devices also may include the ability to communicate via e-mail with the Trailblazer lunar orbiter while it is orbiting the moon and on the moon's surface.

As the first and only private company to be licensed by the U.S. Department of State and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration for moon travel, TransOrbital believes that important and affordable advances in science, medicine, communications and information technology can be achieved by forming strategic global corporate alliances for space exploration.

"Lunar development requires innovative partners, and HP is an ideal world-class systems provider," said Dennis Laurie, chief executive officer, TransOrbital. "Being the first to send and utilize innovative technology in space, such as HP's iPAQ Pocket PCs on this lunar mission, demonstrates that the moon is now truly within anyone's reach."

"HP is a leader in providing technologies that work to improve the mobile experience, whether on Earth or on a spacecraft traveling to the moon," said Alex Gruzen, senior vice president and general manager, mobile computing group, HP Personal Systems Group. "We are very excited that TransOrbital is about to include affordable, innovative HP products, such as our iPAQ Pocket PCs, to enhance this first commercial flight to the moon."

HP Press Release: HP iPAQ Pocket PCs to be Onboard TransOrbital�s First Commercial Moon Mission

Link to Press Release. - LRK -

HP Unveils Its Broadest Range of Handhelds
Line Includes Industry’s Smallest Dual Slot HP iPAQ Pocket PC
PALO ALTO, CALIF., JUNE 23, 2003 – HP (NYSE:HPQ) today expanded the
award-winning HP iPAQ Pocket PC product line to offer customers a full range
of handheld computing options. New models include the HP iPAQ h2210, the
smallest dual slot pocket PC; the HP iPAQ Pocket PC h1940, a slim, valuepriced
pocket PC; and the HP iPAQ h5150 and h5550, which include a 128-
MB RAM power machine.
HP iPAQ Pocket PCs, the No. 1 selling Pocket PC family worldwide,(1) include
common features such as a brilliant and vivid transflective display, a secure
digital input/output (SDIO) expansion slot allowing for additional storage and
capability, removable batteries, mobile printing software, and the company’s
exclusive iPAQ Image Viewer for viewing images and creating slide shows.
Integrated Bluetooth™ wireless capability is offered across the entire iPAQ
Pocket PC family announced today, allowing connectivity to Bluetooth
notebook PCs, printers and accessories, as well as access to remote data
when combined with a Bluetooth enabled phone.(2) Bluetooth enables users to
effortlessly synchronize and share data through their own personal area
Mobile printing software shipping with the new models allows customers to
take advantage of the integrated Bluetooth capability to wirelessly print e-mail
attachments, documents or photos conveniently from the Pocket PC to a
Bluetooth enabled HP printer.
The HP iPAQ Pocket PC’s innovative screen technology continues in the new
models. The transflective liquid crystal display combines the rich color
saturation and high contrast of a backlit TFT display, while remaining
viewable outdoors in bright sunlight. All of these models are powered by
Microsoft Windows® Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PC.
Universe Today - Current News

Good day all and Hans,

Less stiff, but still single finger poking.

Had cat-scan of wrist this morning. Will know more about when I can do two finger poking. :-)

In the mean time see UNIVERSE TODAY
Universe Today Forums
Jul 15, 2003 - After running the "Discuss this story" links for just a couple of days, it was pretty clear that giving people the opportunity to talk to each other was just what Universe Today was missing. So, I decided to expand the offering to a full-fledged discussion forum. My hope is that it can be a place where space enthusiasts can come together and hash out their ideas. Ask questions and answer them, and generally be surrounded by other people who share our passion.

Joining the forums is free, and easy to do. Just click this link, or visit the "Forum" tab whenever you visit the Universe Today. Create an account and then post away. Keep in mind that this is one of those "get out what you put in" situations. If you're hungry for intelligent conversation about space and astronomy, then please take some time to connect with other people - we'll all be the richer.

I've been working hard to get various "special guests" to provide official responses to your questions. For example, Jennifer Spencer, the Web Curator for the Gravity Probe B project provided a great answer to a reader's question about the speed of gravity. I'll try to get answers from the source whenever I can.


Fraser Cain
Universe Today

Fraser is doing a great job.


Sunday, July 13, 2003

KRT Wire | 04/18/2003 | History of foam damage: "Posted on Fri, Apr. 18, 2003

History of foam damage
The Orlando Sentinel

(KRT) - Throughout the space-shuttle program, insulating foam has separated from the external fuel tank and pummeled the orbiters during liftoff. Damage from foam debris is the leading suspect in the Feb. 1 Columbia disaster. The Orlando Sentinel built a database of more than 10,000 hits to the shuttle in 82 flights. (Data for the other 31 shuttle flights is unavailable from NASA.) The findings show that the space agency has tried to prevent the problem but with no success. Here are 10 significant debris incidents and how NASA reacted to them:"


Will spend more time later. LRK -
Thanks Steve.

One finger poking is going okay and will know more about wrist after a cat-scan this Wednesday.

It is certainly my hope to stay with you folks as long as I can be of service, too much fun to quit. :-)

Back to Sys Admin books and Beast Master on TV. {Need an exciting movie that takes place on the Moon. Hope Robert Clements in Australia sells his.


Friday, July 11, 2003

Thanks Stuart.

Finding stiff joints but on the mend.

Saw cars at Central Towing and got my books and spare glasses (Sangads glasses and small Budha above visor too :-)

Looks like his impact hit us front driverside headlight to front driverside headlight.

Engine compartment on Escalade pushed back to wheel and front of V8 (smooshed flat making a crush line plain 45 degree to center axis.

Much the same on Suzuki Swift except crush line moves back to his drver door post and his engine pushed on to his leg breaking legs and his lower back.

He is still in critical condition, We are JUST VERY SORE for the most part. Will check on my right wrist this morning so will stop this one finger poking now.


Monday, July 07, 2003

3 hurt, Fremont's Mission Boulevard closed after head-on collision

Subject: Survived Head On Crash

Just a left hand finger poked message.

Sangad and I were almost to the Thai temple yesterday on Mission in Niles
City (Fremont) where it narrows for an old train under pass when someone
came down around the corner and hit us head on.

Two cars at 40 mph is about like stopping fast from 80. Escalade won. Car
caught on fire but we got out with the help of many. We were transported to
Castro Valley to a trauma center and got a lot X-rays and I got a Cat-Scan.

I have a miner fracture of a small bone in right wrist and we both are
bruised from air bags and seat belts.

No glasses for Sangad or myself. Was interesting trying to find a phone
number in Sangads note book, she far sighted and most of the names written
in Thai. Managed to read Wt Buddhanosrn in Thai and we called Temple.

One of the monks and driver picked us up and took use back to the temple
where we called kids.

The fire department found my billfold in the car after they put the fire out
so I have wet money and soaked IDs.
Sangad had her purse too.

Kids from Tracy side took us home and we have made it through the night on
Vicoden pain pills. Will start the process of locating car and notifying
insurance, etc.

Okay, enough one finger typing. Need to go soak some very sore muscles.

Will update when I have more info.


Sunday, July 06, 2003

John F. Kennedy Space Center - Expendable Launch Vehicles

The Mars Exploration Rover mission is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. The program seeks to take advantage of each launch opportunity to go to Mars, which comes around every 26 months as the planets move around the Sun. Scheduled for two separate launches, the two rovers will be delivered in landing craft to separate sites on Mars in January 2004.
Space Shuttle News Reference Manual

This from the InsideKSC Yahoo Groups
There is a whole new "language" to learn when you really get into space:

STS= Space Transportation System
(However, over the many years, some writers/people have used Shuttle
Transportation System; which technically is wrong, but has become idiomatic)

ISS = International Space Station
TPS= thermal protection system (the tiles)
SRB= solid rocket booster
ET=external tank
OMS= orbital manuevering system
RCS=reaction control system

That's just a few of the very basic terms.

Here' a tremendous resource, the NSTS (National Space Transportation System)
1988 Reference Manual:

Happy reading!

Saturday, July 05, 2003

More links at KelloggSerialReports

Working on scanning in volume 3 and 4 of NASA SP-509, SPACE RESOURCES. What has been completed is at spaceresvol3
Kellogg Serial Reports
For those of you who are interested in the Moon and going back there we will develop information that may be of interest.
Larry Russell Kellogg
To The Moon, Mars, and Beyond

This is a topic I have been discussing for the past four years, that is since the end of the Lunar Prospector mission to the Moon.

We can continue this with information at the home page,

More will be found at

Please feel free to come along and ask questions or make suggestions as to how we might venture to space.

Larry Russell Kellogg

Moon and Mars - Videos