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

Sunday, August 31, 2003

1. Introduction
2. LSP demonstration base
3. Rectennas and energy delivery on Earth
4. LSP System power and economic growth
5. Conclusions
Summary "
Dr. David R. Criswell
Institute for Space Systems Operations, University of Houston
Houston, TX U.S.A.
1. Introduction
Approximately6 kWt/person or, eventually, 2 kWe/person can enable energy prosperity. Note that 't' refers to thermal energy and 'e' to electric energy. For a population of 10 billion people, anticipated by 2050, this implies 60,000 GWt or 20,000 GWe. For purposes of discussion, assume that power usage continues to be high to 2070. From 2000 to 2070 the world would consume approximately 3,000,000 GWt-Y or 1,000,000 GWe-Y of energy [1, 2, 3, 4]. It is highly unlikely that conventional fossil, nuclear, and terrestrial renewable power systems can provide the power needed by 2050 and the total energy consumed by 2070. They are restricted by limited supplies of fuels, pollution and wastes, irregular supplies of renewable energy, costs of creating and operating the global systems, and other factors.
It is technically and economically feasible to provide at least 100,000 GWe of solar electric energy from facilities on the Moon. The Lunar Solar Power (LSP) System can supply to Earth power that is independent of the biosphere and does not introduce CO2, ash, or other material wastes into the biosphere. Inexhaustible new net electrical energy provided by the LSP System enables the creation of new net material wealth on Earth that is decoupled from the biosphere. Given adequate clean electric power, humanity's material needs can be acquired from common resources and recycled without the use of depletable fuels [4, 5]. LSP power increases the ability of tomorrow's generations to meet tomorrow's need"


LPI Abstracts: "
Lunar and Planetary Science Conference Abstracts
Annual Meteoritical Society Meeting Abstracts
Abstracts from Other Meetings (listed in reverse chronological order) "


Wednesday, August 27, 2003

SIRTF: "Update: 27 August 2003
This is Day 3 of the 90-day In-Orbit Checkout and Science Verification period. Initial checkout of the pointing and control system has been completed. Pointing performance meets expectations, and pointing stability or 'jitter' over a 10-minute period is excellent. During a test of the reaction wheel system, which controls the orientation of SIRTF, one of four reaction wheels was unable to supply the requested torque. (Only three reaction wheels are required to operate SIRTF; any one of the four can be regarded as redundant.) The fault protection system responded correctly by turning off that wheel and putting SIRTF in safe mode. Preliminary analysis suggests that this is a temperature effect. Friction internal to reaction wheels, called 'drag torque,' increases at low temperature, affecting some wheels more than others, and the temperature of the wheel in question is now at its minimum for the mission. When the science instruments are turned on, its temperature will rise. Additional analysis is in progress. All other SIRTF systems are operating very well, both on the spacecraft and with the teams at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, both in Pasadena, and Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver. "
NASA - NASA Administrator Accepts Columbia Accident Report: "This morning, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe received the report of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) from the chairman, retired U.S. Navy Admiral Harold Gehman. The following is a statement from the NASA Administrator regarding the CAIB report. "
NASA - Columbia - Home: "

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board released its final report on Aug. 26, 2003. The report is posted here in three versions:

Low Resolution:

Full CAIB Report + View PDF (10 MB)

+ View PDF (1 MB)
Chapter 1
+ View PDF (400 k)
Chapter 2
+ View PDF (1.9 MB)
Chapter 3
+ View PDF (2.1 MB)
Chapter 4
+ View PDF (600 k)
Chapter 5
+ View PDF (1.2 MB)
Chapter 6
+ View PDF (1.8 MB)
Chapter 7
+ View PDF (500 k)
Chapter 8
+ View PDF (350 k)
Chapter 9
+ View PDF (400 k)
Chapter 10
+ View PDF (500 k)
Chapter 11
+ View PDF (400 k)
Appendix A
+ View PDF (300 k)
Appendix B
+ View PDF (300 k)
Appendix C
+ View PDF (300 k)


Monday, August 25, 2003

KSC Release No. 76-03: "Donald Savage August 25, 2003
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
(202) 358-1547
Frank O’Donnell
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
(818) 354-7170
George Diller
Kennedy Space Center
(321) 867-2468
KSC Release No. 76-03

NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) successfully launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 1:35:39 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (10:35:39 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, August 24) aboard a Delta II launch vehicle.

Flying eastward over the Atlantic Ocean, the new observatory entered an Earth-trailing orbit the first of its kind at about 43 minutes after launch. Five minutes later, the spacecraft separated from the Delta’s second and final stage. At about 2:39 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (11:39 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, Aug. 24), about 64 minutes after take-off, the NASA Deep Space Network station in Canberra, Australia received the first data from the spacecraft.

'All systems are operating smoothly, and we couldn’t be more delighted,' said David Gallagher, project manager for the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

The last of NASA’s suite of Great Observatories, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility will use infrared detectors to pierce the dusty darkness enshrouding many of the universe’s most fascinating objects, including brown dwarfs, planet-forming debris discs around stars and distant galaxies billions of light years away. Past Great Observatories include the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory and Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

The two-and-one-half to five-year mission is an important bridge to NASA’s Origins Program, which seeks to answer the questions: "Where did we come from? Are we alone?"

In-orbit checkout and calibration is scheduled to last 60 days, followed by a 30-day science verification period, after which the observatory is expected to begin its regular science mission.

For more information about the Space Infrared Telescope Facility, visit their Web site at

-- end--

Digital images of SIRTF processing activities are available in KSC's online Multimedia Gallery at


Saturday, August 23, 2003

Pluto Mission May Be Early Victim Of Growing Budget Crisis: "Pluto Mission Might Get Nuked In Growing Budget Crisis

Sacramento - Aug 21, 2003
The saga of NASA's 'New Horizons' Pluto flyby probe - which, earlier this year, finally received official approval and funding from NASA, the White House and Congress, and seemed assured of launch in 2006 - has now undergone yet another perilous twist, of a wholly unexpected sort.

In July, the House of Representatives startled everyone by approving a Fiscal Year 2004 budget for the unmanned spaceflight portion of the NASA budget which includes fully $143 million in additional earmarks to committee members' homestate projects (some of them not connected to NASA at all), but which compensates for this with $96 million in cuts to four programs."


Friday, August 22, 2003

Failure Is Not An Option

FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION. The untold story of Mission Control. Sunday night at 9/8c on The History Channel.
August 24, 2003

Thursday, August 21, 2003

I S A S / Public Outreach: "Ion Engine Operation of Hayabusa
Launched on May 9, 2003, the asteroid explorer �Hayabusa� is now cruising smoothly at a velocity of about 300,000km/day. In other words, the communication delay to the explorer is increasing by two seconds a day. In early July, the distance exceeded 0.1 AU (Astronomical Unit).

Many people are interested in or concerned about the ion engine�s operation. It took a relatively long time to start operation, because we took extensive action to release all possible gas and to prevent large electrical discharges since the explorer uses high-voltage power. We are now confirming the performance and status of the explorer�s four engines, three of which operate simultaneously. We also verified the switch selection function to distribute the three engines� high-voltage power to four engines. These processes took a great deal of time. We first activated the ion engine on May 27, and started acceleration by simultaneous operation of three engines on June 25.

Since the ion engine�s acceleration is too small to measure with an accelerometer, initially we thought that long-duration orbit determination would be the only way to rate acceleration performance. Fortunately, however, it was possible to measure the acceleration value with the so-called Maneuver Monitor display equipment, which indicates the actual time difference of instantaneously measured value and expected value of two-way doppler. The equipment is also used in orbital changes for the Mars explorer �Nozomi�. It allows the measurement and processing of very small acceleration amounts of 4 x10^(-6) G with considerably high accuracy.

So far, ion engine performance has conformed well to the value measured by the ground test and acceleration has progressed smoothly. The acceleration amount expected by the ea"
I S A S / Public Outreach: "International Joint Mercury Exploration Mission “BepiColombo” Moves to Next Stage after Review by SAC
The only direct spacecraft observation of the planet Mercury was provided by the US Mariner 10’s flyby in the 1970s. Mariner 10 revealed many unexpected findings about the planet nearest the Sun, including, for example, the unexpected presence of a magnetic field and magnetospheric activities. Further investigation into those findings has been on hold for over 30 years.

The Mercury exploration working group was formed at ISAS in 1997. It developed a Japanese-initiated Mercury exploration plan the following year. In 1999, ESA (European Space Agency) proposed a joint Mercury exploration, and ISAS agreed to participate in 2000. In the same year, the BepiColombo mission was formally selected as one of ESA’s cornerstone missions. The mission was formally authorized by ISAS in early 2002, following submission to and review by the Space Science Committee in 2001."

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

TransOrbital's TrailBlazer Private space satellite First Orbital Mission to the Moon.: "TRAILBLAZER�
only private company to be authorized by the US State Department and NOAA for
commercial flights to the Moon. The TrailBlazer� lunar orbiter will be the first
delivery service to the Moon. Delivered to the Moon surface in a special capsule
will be your certificates, business cards, cremated remains, jewelry, artwork and
many other items of choice. The Trailblazer� satellite will deliver commercial and
scientific projects and experiments to lunar orbit, as well as conduct lunar
exploration and mapping.
During its voyage to the Moon, Trailblazer� will provide live
streaming video of the entire mission, pictures of earth from space, detailed maps
of the full Moon surface, photographs of Apollo landing sites including Apollo 11,
dramatic EarthRise; video and a mission ending live HDTV video broadcast of
the spacecraft as it 'Barn-Storms' over the lunar terrain."
TransOrbital, Inc. - TrailBlazer - Mission: "TrailBlazerTM is the first commercial lunar mission. It is designed to be an inexpensive precursor probe for a variety of commercial lunar missions, both those accomplished by TransOrbital, and those of other companies and space agencies. It is essentially a flying camera platform, carrying high-resolution video cameras, with the goal of returning scientific and artistic video throughout the mission. Video to be gathered "

WILL BE INTERESTING TO SEE HOW THIS TURN OUT. - LRK - - Moon probe to map 'Peak of Eternal Light' - May 10, 2002: "Moon probe to map 'Peak of Eternal Light'
May 10, 2002 Posted: 4:24 PM EDT (2024 GMT)

By Richard Stenger

(CNN) -- A lunar satellite in the works will photograph some of the most secluded spots on the moon, including dark craters thought to contain ice and a strange mountain where the sun always shines.
The European Space Agency spacecraft will make the most accurate maps ever of the moon, according to project scientists. The $91 million probe is expected to launch early next year.
Besides producing a three-dimensional model of the lunar surface, the SMART-1 mission will focus its attention on the mysterious south pole region, including the Peak of Eternal Light, which is perpetually bathed in sunlight."
India Approves Moon Mission: "India Approves Moon Mission
By K.S. Jayaraman
Special to
posted: 04:15 pm ET
19 August 2003

NEW DELHI, India -- India will send a spacecraft to the moon by 2008, prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said in his Independence Day address to the nation Aug. 15. The announcement has put an end to suspense over the fate of the roughly $100 million project of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) that was waiting for a formal sanction for over eight months.
The mission -- named Chandrayan-1 -- foresees placing a 1150 lb. (525 kilogram) satellite in a polar orbit 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the moon. The spacecraft will be launched by a modified version of India’s indigenous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. The lunar orbiter will be designed to operate for two years.
'This mission will provide a unique opportunity for frontier scientific research,' ISRO said in a statement. 'It is expected to be the forerunner of more ambitious planetary missions in the years to come, including landing robots on the moon and visits by Indian spacecraft to other planets in the solar system.'



Much of the area around the Moon's south pole is within the South Pole-Aitken Basin (shown at left in blue on a lunar topography image), a giant impact crater 1,550 miles (2,500 kilometers) in diameter and 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) deep at its lowest point. Many smaller craters exist on the floor of this basin. Many of those craters never see sunlight and are thought to contain water ice. Credit: NASA/National Space Science Data Center

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Moon colony 'within 20 years': "Moon colony 'within 20 years'
By Helen Briggs
BBC News Online science reporter

Humans could be living on the Moon within 20 years, says a leading lunar scientist.
According to Bernard Foing of the European Space Agency, the technology will soon exist to set up an outpost for visiting astronauts.
However, political will is needed to inspire the public to support the initiative.
'We believe that technologically it's possible,' the project scientist on Europe's first Moon mission, Smart-1, told BBC News Online.
'But it will depend in the end on the political will to go and establish a human base for preparing for colonisation of the Moon or to be used as a refuge for the human species.' "


Monday, August 18, 2003

Visiting Chabot Space & Science Center: "Surround Yourself with the Wonders of the Universe!
At Chabot Space & Science Center, the universe is yours to experience. Set amid 13 trail-laced acres of East Bay parkland, with glorious views of San Francisco Bay and the Oakland foothills, Chabot is a hands-on celebration of sights, sounds, and sensations. "

Purchase advance tickets online through TicketWeb, or call our box office at (510) 336-7373
Exhibits at Chabot: Mars Encounter: "Mars Encounter
What do you know about the planet Mars? Could you plan a mission to Mars? What will interplanetary adventure travel be like?
Mars Encounter invites visitors to explore Mars' place in our culture, investigate the accomplishments of past missions to Mars, follow the progress of current missions to Mars, and consider future Mars exploration, when human astronauts will experience the Red Planet first-hand.

This family friendly exhibit features a four-foot tactile Mars globe, complete with craters and volcanoes; a Martian meteorite; a Martian sci-fi theater; a Mars Mission Control where visitors can obtain data on current and past missions; videos of Rover missions; a Mars quiz game; a virtual vacation to Mars; and a play area for the younger crowd that includes a photo-op with a Martian!

The exhibit will be continually updated and changed as additional Mars research and exploration takes place. Chabot is a member of the Mars Visualization Alliance, part of the NASA 'Mars Exploration Program (MER) Engagement Plan,' which sends members Mars mission data in near real-time as it becomes available from the rovers.

This new exhibit was developed by Chabot in collaboration with West Office Exhibition Design of Oakland, and funded through a grant from NASA."
Exhibits at Chabot Space & Science Center: "New exhibit now open!
Mars Encounter
What do you know about the planet Mars? Could you plan a mission to Mars? What will interplanetary adventure travel be like? Find out this summer when you visit Mars Encounter, Chabot's newest hands-on exhibit. "

The exhibit features a four-foot tactile Mars globe, complete with craters and volcanoes; a Martian meteorite; a Martian Sci-fi theater; a Mars Mission Control where visitors can find out about current and past missions; a Mars quiz game; a virtual vacation to Mars; and a play area for the younger crowd.


Astrofuel�Energy Source of the Future:
Astrofuel—Energy Source of the Future

Air Cmde (Dr.)C.N. Ghosh, Senior Fellow, IDSA

Currently India’s oil consumption is around 84 million tonnes (m.t) per year as against the production of 33 m.t. India’s domestic production will touch 37 m.t by the end of the Ninth Plan period. On the other hand, a sustained GDP growth of 6 per cent will enhance the oil consumption to the tune of 275 m.t by the year 2020. The Times of India wrote on August 23 that India is talking to international partners to establish a gas pipeline through Pakistan from Iran despite the present thorny Indo-Pak relations. How India is to break the ice of the present political impasse with an intransigent Pakistan is not known. A long distant hope of generation of goodwill and a desperate need for a secure energy source may have driven Indian policy makers to make such a move. But a comparatively green political scientist would come to a better conclusion. This step is nothing but anxiety driven. The concern for energy security looms large over the Indian psyche. Natural gas reserves of India are placed at 660 billion cubic meters (bcm). India is not an importer of natural gas at present but it will start soon. By 2002 India is expected to import about 2.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas which would increase to 25.5 bcm by 2010.1 The Indian desire for a pipeline through Pakistan is understandable.

Astrofuel is not merely a subject for scientific curiosity, it will have a major impact on industries of the US and other participating countries. Billions of dollars will be required for research and development. Implementation of use of Astrofuel on Earth will require many technologies to be created. Foremost among them are super conducting magnets, plasma control and diagnostics, robotically controlled mining equipment, life support facilities, rocket launch vehicle, telecommunications, power electronics etc. Though the investment seems to be astronomical, but if compared to the benefit derived, the justification will be more than adequate. For example, the amount of coal required to generate 1,000 MW of electricity will be the effort equivalent of half a gallon of Astrofuel per day. And since fusion plants emit no ash or particles, electrostatic precipitation equipment would be unnecessary. US industries have got a head start to use the Persian Gulf of the 21st century to make it a reality. The commercial viability is enormous. Apart from US requirement it is estimated that an additional quantity of 75 to 100 tons of the fuel would be required for the rest of the world. At an average cost of 1 billion dollars a ton, US industries should be able to scoop up an equivalent whopping sum at that point of time when the fossil fuel will be really scarce i.e by the late 2030s. By that time the world will be energy hungry in real terms.


"The technology to harness He3 energy source is an on-going process in the laboratories of the US universities. Miniaturisation of the He3 driven reactors would have immense dimension in the future ultra new world order. The Kursk tragedy will be forgotten, never to be repeated by an errant Torpedo. This safe energy could propel submarines, ships and airships for unlimited periods. Dimensions of such a fantasy may overtake Jules Verne but could be transformed into reality.

Indian self-sufficiency in the energy sector is a distant dream. The Planning Commission in its report has very clearly established the gap between the demand and supply, but could not give a satisfactory answer how this huge gap could be bridged. Although oil and gas supplies are in abundance in the world, but what could happen 15 years hence is anybody's guess. India will have to form an alliance for energy security. Will India be in a position to engage Pakistan in an useful dialogue in an area of mutual concern to secure energy source and have greater access to Central Asia? Complication of India's energy security interest will arise and at a not too distant future because the US will gradually disengage herself from the Middle East and look elsewhere for its energy requirement. Could Astrofuel be one of them? Indian dependence on energy source will increase rapidly and it would be better for Indian scientists and energy security analysts to analyse this unconventional source and secure a place for India before it is too late.

The time is ripe enough for India to take up the Moon Treaty.27 The Treaty of December 18, 1979 is collecting dust over the last twenty years. It has to be debated upon by all the UN members and to be ratified. India will find many willing participants if it decides to take a lead. Article 1128 of the treaty adequately covers the interests of the entire world community where it states that " The Moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind, which finds its expression in the provisions of this agreement. And the moon is not subject to national appropriation by any claim of sovereignty, by use or occupation, or by other means." Americans will not be amused but it will not be difficult to convince the world body.

PM goofs up on India's moon mission - "
PM goofs up on India's moon mission

Friday, 15 August , 2003, 09:47

New Delhi: A slip of tongue by the Prime Minister inadvertently made India the first power on earth to sent a spacecraft to the moon.
In his Independence Day address, Atal Behari Vajpayee said India will send a spacecraft to moon before 1908. He obviously intended to say 2008.
The mission will be called Chandrayan-I, he said adding that the development showed the giant strides made by India in the field of science.
Interestingly, Vajpayee in his address at a BJP rally in Jaipur last Sunday had said the tempo built up now would help in the Lok Sabha elections 'two and a half years' later.
Party Spokesman Prakash Javadekar had later clarified it was a 'slip of tongue' and what he meant was 'one-and-a-half-years, i.e. next November when polls are due.' "
US blackout: Indian wins kudos for meals - "US blackout: Indian wins kudos for meals

Saturday, 16 August , 2003, 12:06

New York: As New York reeled under a severe power cut, an Indian restaurant owner earned much praise for traditional Indian hospitality.
When the lights failed Thursday night, several restaurants downed shutters. Those that remained open doubled or tripled their prices but the stranded had nowhere else to go.
As ATM machines did not work and credit cards became useless, those with little cash had a tough time.
In this greedy jungle, Madras Mahal on Lexington Avenue, owned by Nitin Vyas, offered free meals to the hungry.
More importantly, it provided free cold water when the going rate for a small drinking water bottle was five dollars compared to usual one dollar.
The restaurant served rice with the Punjabi dish Channa-Bhatura and tea which was much in demand.
Even last afternoon, there was a queue of hungry people outside the restaurant waiting for a free meal. "

The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News: "Moon mission announcement reflects long strides
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 15
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s announcement today from the ramparts of the Red Fort of sending the country’s spacecraft to the Moon by 2008 is a signal to the international community as well as a demonstrator of the extremely sensitive and limited cryogenic engine technology it possesses.
Mr Vajpayee’s announcement — first by him with regard to the Moon mission — reflects India’s strides in space technology despite sanctions from the USA. It also reflects that New Delhi will take care of its long-term strategic interests in every arena, be it Antarctica or the Moon."


Sunday, August 17, 2003

BBCi - The Sky at Night - Watch Online: "THE SKY AT NIGHT: WATCH ONLINE
Broadcast: 4 August, BBC One, 12.30am
Repeat: 9 August, BBC Two, 11.30am
Click here to watch the most recent The Sky at Night available

August's Episode - Mars: The Next Frontier
This is the year of the Red Planet, when Mars will be at its closest to Earth.
With three probes on their way to Mars, due to land Christmas Day onwards, the hope is we will find out if there is, or has been, life on Mars.
In this special programme, Patrick Moore talks to Sir Arthur C Clarke about terraforming and manned exploration, and to Beagle 2's creator, Professor Colin Pillinger.
>Everything you need to know about Mars exploration
>Will Mars Express and Beagle 2 find life on the Red Planet?
>BBC Horizon - Destination Mars


ps: Right wrist now out of splint and letting the fingers do the walking - :-) - LRK -

Saturday, August 16, 2003

The Space Review: Considering the fate of Hubble (page 2): "Considering the fate of Hubble
<< page 1: Hubble’s near future
Considering SM5
The prospect of Hubble failing late this decade—potentially several years before JWST is launched—has raised interest in a sixth servicing mission, SM5. The mission, tentatively slated for around 2007 or 2008, would perform final maintenance on the telescope as well as possibly install new instruments for Hubble’s final years. SM5 could also allow Hubble to continue to operate well past 2010, overlapping with JWST.
The astronomical community is divided about SM5 and a Hubble life extension. John Huchra, an astronomer who serves as chairman of the board of directors of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), notes that the servicing missions have the effect of rejuvenating not just the telescope but the community as well. “In effect, a brand new observatory has been delivered to the community on each such mission and the community has responded with a full intellectual commitment to exploiting this resource,” he said in a written statement. “Unlike our early expectations, HST is not gradually declining in its productivity and scientific appeal—it is increasing.”"


Friday, August 15, 2003

: "

Nick Sagan

Read by Clayton Barclay Jones with Beth McDonald

A fast-paced, stylish, near-future thriller that fuses the fierce imagination of The Matrix with the chilling social vision of Minority Report.

He wakes alone, nameless, in a strangely bucolic day-after-tomorrow world. His amnesia is near-total; he cannot remember his name and doesn't recognize anything around him, but he knows with absolute certainty that someone has tried to kill him--and will surely try again.

Not knowing who, if anyone, he can trust, he reacquaints himself with eight companions, all of whom are being trained (for what?) at an esoteric academy run by a cryptic superintendent named Maestro. As he tries to discover the identity of the person who wants him dead, he quickly begins to unravel a series of sinister truths, which make it clear that the ramifications of his search are far greater than he could ever have imagined. Much more than his own life is at stake.

Idlewild takes the best of its genre and transcends it, creating a story that will appeal to readers far beyond the traditi8onal sceince fiction fan base."
TCS: Enviro-Sci - Sagan Reloaded: "Sagan Reloaded
By Kenneth Silber08/13/2003

Nick Sagan is a writer who has spent a decade working on science-fiction scripts and games. He wrote and edited for the TV series Star Trek: Voyager. In 2000, he was a colleague of mine at He is the son of a famous father, the late astronomer Carl Sagan. The Voyager 1 space probe, now heading out of the solar system and already the most distant human-made object, carries a record with various sounds and greetings, including the voice of a six-year-old Nick: 'Hello from the children of planet Earth.'

Sagan now has written his first novel, Idlewild (G.P. Putnam's Sons). The book is an engrossing work of science fiction, focused on a student in a future elite school that employs advanced virtual-reality technologies. Sagan's novel will get attention partly because of its author's recognizable name. But it will resonate due to its intricate plot, well-realized psychological dynamics, and presentation of futuristic technologies, which are depicted by Sagan with both imagination and a laudable scientific verisimilitude."

TCS: Enviro-Sci - Eyes on the X-Prize: "Eyes on the X-Prize
By Rand Simberg08/15/2003

Few countries on the planet have a space program. Those few that do are either one of the two traditional space powers, the United States and Russia (formerly the USSR), or take their technological and programmatic lead from one of those two countries. Which is to say, they all build expendable launch systems (with the dubious exception of the Space Shuttle, which is only partly reusable), usually more or less based on U.S. or Russian designs and concepts.

But why have the Americans and Russians so dominated space programs this way? In large part because the only available model for a successful space program -- 'successful' being defined, in this case, by the minimalist relative definition of being better than having no space program at all -- has been to set up a government agency, give it as much money as it says it needs, make it look like either the U.S.' or USSR's, and hope for the best"

Transterrestrial Musings: "Biting Commentary
About Infinity...And Beyond!

Welcome, Foxnews readers (and visitors from Professor Reynolds' site)!

For those who've never been here before, it's not all space stuff, as you'll see if you scroll down a ways. Anyway, pull up a chair, relax, have an adult beverage, and come back often.
snip "
Thursday, August 14, 2003
By Rand Simberg

John Carter McKnight recently wrote an article on the rights of Martian lifeforms, should they turn out to exist.

The question arises because, unlike the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, we haven't yet reached any consensus on a protocol for how to respond if we discover non-intelligent extraterrestrial life, particularly a physical discovery in our own solar system that could be adversely affected by such a discovery (though people are working on one). "

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

After seven weeks of extensive programming instruction and hands-on engineering training, 36 high school students are ready to demonstrate their newly developed skills in autonomous robotics.
On Aug. 15, the diverse group of students will receive their graduation diplomas and conduct robotics demonstrations for family, friends and invited guests. Officials from NASA, Carnegie Mellon University and San Jose State University will address the students and award graduation certificates. After the ceremony, the students' robots will perform a variety of pre-programmed autonomous tasks, such as playing tag, using on-board color cameras and laser range finders.
'A key objective of the summer robotics camp is to inspire students and engage them in understanding both the science and engineering challenges of space exploration,' said Daniel Clancy, acting director of NASA Ames� Information Sciences and Technology Directorate. 'The premise is that space is cool, robots are cool, and the combination of both is really cool. We believe that robotics and space exploration are a way to motivate, challenge and encourage students.'
Judging by the reactions of the students, the program seems to be winning students over and dramatically expanding their horizons.
'RoboCamp has opened my eyes to robotics,' said Jaime Barajas, a student from Sequoia High School, Redwood City, Calif. 'This was better than any program I�ve ever done during the summer.'"
SCISAT-1 Mission Was 21st Consecutive Successful Launch for Pegasus

(Dulles, VA 13 August 2003) -- Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) announced today that its Pegasus® space launch vehicle successfully launched the Scientific Satellite (SCISAT-1) Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE) spacecraft for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Canadian Space Agency. In a mission that took place on Tuesday, August 12, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, the 330-pound SCISAT-1 spacecraft was accurately delivered into its targeted orbit approximately 400 miles above the Earth, inclined at 73.9 degrees to the equator.

The powered flight sequence for the SCISAT-1 mission took about 11 minutes, from the time the Pegasus rocket was released from its L-1011 carrier aircraft at approximately 10:10 p.m. (EDT) to the time that the satellite was deployed into orbit. It was the 35th launch of the Pegasus rocket and its 21st consecutive successful mission. "

Monday, August 11, 2003

Apollo 16 Flight Journal - Index Page: "Welcome to this April 2003 release of the Apollo 16 Flight Journal, the companion to the
Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.
Like the Surface Journal, it is intended to be a resource for all those interested in the Apollo flights to the Moon, whether in a passing or scholarly capacity.
This journal covers the flight of Apollo 16, eventually covering from launch to splashdown. As a 'living document' it will continue to grow and evolve and major changes will be intimated in the appropriate newsgroups. It is the current intention of the authors to bring all the manned Apollo flights to this site.
Also available is the Apollo 15 Flight Journal and the Apollo 8 Flight Journal"
China plans to send robot to the moon in 20 years: "China plans to send robot to the moon in 20 years

BEIJING (AFP) Aug 04, 2003
China plans to send a robot to the moon by the mid-2020s, more than 50 years after man first set his foot on lunar soil, state media said Monday.

The modest timetable, published by the China Daily, is in sharp contrast to much more ambitious plans previously reported in the state press, including a mission to Mars.

China is pursuing a three-stage program which will take about 20 years and culminate in sending a robot to the moon, the paper said.

By contrast, it took just eight years from when US President John F. Kennedy stated the ambition to put a man on the moon until it actually happened in 1969."

Although China is measuring its moon program in decades, not years, the China Daily Monday reported new breakthroughs in its lunar research.

Scientists have made advances in designing the orbit of a satellite which is to circle the moon to examine its surface and geography, marking the first stage of the three-stage lunar program.

The second stage will be to land a device on the moon, followed by the dispatch of a robot in the third stage, according to the paper.

China has previously said on repeated occasions that it plans to put a man into orbit some time this year, becoming the third country in the world to do so after the United States and the former Soviet Union.

All rights reserved. © 2003 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

Shenzhou-5 Launcher Ready For Transfer To Jiuquan Launch Site: "DRAGON SPACE

Shenzhou-5 Launcher Ready For Transfer To Jiuquan Launch Site

by Hou Yi
Hong Kong - Aug 11, 2003
The Changzheng-2F (Long March-2F) launcher that will deliver the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft into orbit will likely be ready to leave for the launch center within the last ten days of this month, local newspaper Ta Kung Pao reported on Sunday (Aug. 3)."


Two days earlier (Aug. 1) the newspaper also reported that both the SZ-5 spacecraft and the CZ-2F launcher had been undergoing rigorous reexamination ahead of their imminent departure to the launch site.


Unidentified officials at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) said that in order to ensure a perfectly safe flight for the historic manned mission, processing work on other Changzheng rockets for missions later this year was stopped so that all resources would be devoted to test both SZ-5 and CZ-2F.


The forthcoming transfer of the launcher to JSLC signifies that preparation of the SZ-5 mission is about to enter its final phase.

The report on Sunday in Ta Kung Pao also cited information from unnamed space officials that the launch window of SZ-5 might be around 6 a.m. Beijing Time (10pm UTC on previous day).

Two weeks ago Wen Wei Po, another newspaper in Hong Kong, reported that the launch of SZ-5 could happen within 100 days from now.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Do Martian Bugs Have Any Intrinsic Rights: "MARSDAILY

The Intrinsic Rights Of Martian Bugs

The intrinsic value of any potential ancient Martian fossils is not disputed, but what about living bugs that could seriously curtail human activity on Mars.
The Spacefaring Web 3.14 by John Carter McKnight
Scottsdale - Aug 01, 2003
Recent evidence of vast amounts of water ice on Mars supports the possibility of indigenous life. At the same time, that water could enable human settlement and massive environmental engineering, or terraforming. A moral conflict could face us soon, pitting Terrestrial life against the Martian. The course of action we choose should be informed by broad debate: the ethics, as much as the biology, of Mars deserves full exploration.
Should intelligent extra-terrestrial life be discovered, presumably through a deep-space signal, the scientific community has a well-developed set of protocols for determining its response. No such protocols exist for responding to a discovery of microbial life (through there is a proposal to formulate them). Oddly, the prospect of primitive life is the more controversial: our concept of the appropriate response is shaped by our views on environmental ethics, where profound disagreements on basic assumptions divide us in our daily lives as much as in our views of a future on Mars."

China's First Lunar Steps: "China's First Lunar Steps Outlined In Sydney IAU Presentation

by Morris Jones
Sydney - Jul 21, 2003
Since China announced its plans for human spaceflight, plans for Chinese exploration of the solar system have also featured in media reports. The human and robotic elements of China's space program together form an overall increase in China's ambitions in space.
While information on the Shenzhou crew-carrying spacecraft is relatively abundant, Chinese officials have been extremely vague about their plans for exploring the moon and beyond. Some media reports have even painted wild speculations of Chinese astronauts on the moon within ten years, a clearly ludicrous proposition.
More light on China's lunar program was recently provided at the 25th Annual Congress of the International Astronomical Union in Sydney this year, when a delegate from the Chinese Academy of Sciences gave a brief presentation."

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | China's first astronaut revealed: "China's first astronaut revealed

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Chen Long (left) should fly in October
(Image by Xinhua)
China has revealed the identity of its first astronaut who will go into space by the end of the year. He is Chen Long, a trained pilot who was selected for astronaut training in 1996.
Chinese authorities have released a picture of him in training at the time of the Shenzhou 4 launch in January 2003.
According to the Hong Kong newspaper Sing Tao Daily, he will be the only crew member aboard Shenzhou 5, the first Chinese manned spaceflight, planned for October 2003.
There has been speculation as to whether a Shenzhou 5 might carry more than one person, but Chinese officials now seem to be saying that Chen Long will be the only person aboard.
Officials say that the flight will take place during the daytime to aid the tracking of the capsule. Previous Shenzhou flights have taken place at night. It may also be carried live on Chinese TV.
At the completion of the unmanned Shenzhou 4 mission, China state television showed two candidate astronauts in a behind-the-scenes look at preparations for sending Chinese astronauts into space.
After the Shenzhou 4 flight, Chinese media said the capsule, based on Russia's Soyuz, carried all the equipment necessary for manned flight and tested life-support equipment.
It added: 'Completion of the successful voyage starts a countdown for China to realise its ambitions of becoming the third country to put people in orbit.'
Chen Long will be the first Chinese national to go into space but not the first person born in China.
US astronaut Shannon Lucid was born in Shanghai and has completed five space shuttle fligh"

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2003/03/07 12:28:33 GMT


Development of China's Aerospace Industry during the 10th Five Year Plan: "Title: PRC BJB Discusses Planned Space Exploration

Document Number: FBIS-CHI-2001-1204
Document Date: 03 Dec 2001
Sourceline: CPP20011204000017 Beijing Jiefangjun Bao (Internet Version-WWW) in
Chinese 03 Dec 01 p 10
Language: Chinese

Subslug: Article by Zuo Saichun: 'Soon we will land on the moon. Outline of
China's Aerospace Development in the 10th Five Year Plan.'

[FBIS Translated Text] Article on Development of China's Aerospace
Industry during the 10th Five Year Plan

Soon We Will Land on the Moon. Outline of China's Aerospace
Development in the 10th Five Year Plan

When can Chinese astronauts travel in space on the 'Shenzhou?' When
will China's lunar vehicle travel freely on the moon? These goals are
dependent upon the successful development of aerospace technology. To
commemorate the one-year anniversary of the release of the white paper,
'China's Aerospace,' the State Science and Engineering Commission (i.e.,
the National Aerospace Bureau) issued 'China's Aerospace Development
Outline in the 10th Five Year Plan' on 22 November. It disclosed a
number of major aerospace programs to be launched in the near future.
It also described the concept of preliminary research on manned flight
and lunar exploration. It presented an inspirational picture of blue
sky in our mind. "


Interesting article. Will use as a gauge to see how China tracks in their development on going to space. - LRK -

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Imagiverse.Org 2nd Anniversary: "Imagiverse.Org
2nd Anniversary
August 8th 2003
Amazing people abound in all walks of life. It doesn't matter what career path you choose but it does matter that you love what you do and strive to be the best that you can be. Since the site launched on August 8th 2001, more than fifty amazing people have taken time out of their busy schedules to share a glimpse into their lives and careers within the pages of Imagiverse.Org. Some of these people consider themselves to be ordinary. Some consider themselves to be lucky. Some worked very hard to achieve their goals. We consider them to be an inspiration."

Check out the imagiverse web site if you have kids that are thinking about space. - LRK -

Monday, August 04, 2003

Press Release, 11 April 2003: "Mars Rover Landing Sites Chosen
NASA has selected the two landing sites for the Mars Exploration Rovers, and the winners are Gusev crater and Meridiani Planum. THEMIS data was extensively used in the landing site selection process. Onboard each rover will be one of our instruments (MiniTES) from Arizona State University. The twin rovers are due to touchdown on Mars next January 4 and January 25, 2004."
Los Alamos releases new maps of Mars water:

Los Alamos releases new maps of Mars water
Contact: Nancy Ambrosiano,, (505) 667-0471 (03-101)

Contact: Jim Danneskiold,, (505) 667-1640

"LOS ALAMOS, N.M., July 24, 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.
The maps detail the distribution of water-equivalent hydrogen as revealed by Los Alamos National Laboratory-developed instruments aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft. In an upcoming talk at the Sixth International Conference on Mars at the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, Los Alamos space scientist Bill Feldman and coworkers will offer current estimates of the total amount of water stored near the Martian surface. His presentation will be at 1:20 p.m., Friday, July 25.
For more than a year, Los Alamos' neutron spectrometer has been carefully mapping the hydrogen content of the planet's surface by measuring changes in neutrons given off by soil, an indicator of hydrogen likely in the form of water-ice. The new color maps are available at online.
'The new pictures are just breathtaking, the water-equivalent hydrogen follows the geographic features beautifully,' said Feldman. 'There's a lane of hydrogen-rich material following the western slopes of the biggest volcanoes in the solar system, a maximum reading sits right on Elysium mons, and another maximum is in the deepest canyon in the solar system.'"
JPL News Release - Intriguing Celestial Images Arrive from Galaxy Mission: "2003 News Releases
Intriguing Celestial Images Arrive from Galaxy Mission
July 25, 2003

Galaxy Centaurus A.

Caption/image details
NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer has beamed back revealing images of hundreds of galaxies to expectant astronomers, providing the first batch of data on star formation that they had hoped for.
The recent ultraviolet color images from the orbiting space telescope were taken between June 7 and June 23, 2003 and are available online at and
'The images clearly show active star formation in nearby galaxies, and large numbers of distant ultraviolet galaxies undergoing starbursts,' said Dr. Christopher Martin, the mission's principal investigator and an astrophysics professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, which leads the mission. 'This demonstrates that the Galaxy Evolution Explorer will be a powerful tool for studying star formation in galaxies near and far.' "

Moon and Mars - Videos