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

Friday, December 23, 2005

Good day

"An Explosion on the Moon", caught my eye from Science@NASA and thought at first some
Alien Fortress had exploded. :-)

(Grandchildren are out from Ft. Leonard Wood MO and playing
Star Wars on a PS2 game station.)
An Explosion on the Moon 12.23.2005

So you thought nothing ever happens on the moon?

December 23, 2005: NASA scientists have observed an explosion on the moon. The blast, equal
in energy to about 70 kg of TNT, occurred near the edge of Mare Imbrium (the Sea of Rains) on
Nov. 7, 2005, when a 12-centimeter-wide meteoroid slammed into the ground traveling 27

"What a surprise," says Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) researcher Rob Suggs, who
recorded the impact's flash. He and colleague Wes Swift were testing a new telescope and video
camera they assembled to monitor the moon for meteor strikes. On their first night out, "we
caught one," says Suggs.

The object that hit the moon was "probably a Taurid," says MSFC meteor expert Bill Cooke. In
other words, it was part of the same meteor shower that peppered Earth with fireballs in late
October and early November 2005.
(See "Fireball Sightings" from Science@NASA.)


Suggs and his team plan to make more observations. "We're contemplating a long-term
monitoring program active not only during major meteor showers, but also at times in between.
We need to develop software to find these flashes automatically," he continues. "Staring at 4
hours of tape to find a split-second flash can get boring; this is a job for a computer."

With improvements, their system might catch lots of lunar meteors. Says Suggs, "I'm ready for
more surprises."


Read the whole article and then put on your thinking caps.

* Are they sure it was a meteor impact?
* What would it have been like if you were there?
* Would you be able to tell if this was a fresh hit if you came upon it a day later while out in your
space suit hopping around?

And HOW DO WE KNOW it was a 12-centimeter-wide meteoroid slammed into the ground traveling 27 km/s?

As a kid, my uncle gave me a bit of help in digging a hole in hard pan clay for an underground camp with a half a stick of dynamite. We blew dirt clods around the neighborhood. (was back in the time when their were still vacant lots between houses.)

I would not want to be standing near by when bits of the Moon came over the ridge. If you didn't get hit by the incoming meteor you still could get hit by secondary fall out.

The neighbors weren't all that pleased with my excavations either. :-)

Hope we get some instruments up there soon to give us some ground truth observations.

Thanks for looking up with me.

As a side note, I have mentioned that I have been helping with the saving and use of the Pioneer
10/11 Master Data Records. Dr. Slava Turyshev has finished a paper on how we might use some of the recovered information to help in the study of the Pioneer Anomaly. Viktor Toth has contributed much to the paper and yours truly had a small part. (some others at JPL as well). If you care to down load a 42 page paper you can find it at:
The Study of the Pioneer Anomaly: New Data and Objectives for New Investigation

Authors: Slava G. Turyshev, Viktor T. Toth, Larry R. Kellogg, Eunice. L. Lau, Kyong J. Lee
Comments: 42 pages, 40 figures, 3 tables

Radiometric tracking data from Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft has consistently indicated the presence of a small, anomalous, Doppler frequency drift, uniformly changing with a rate of ~6 x 10^{-9} Hz/s; the drift can be interpreted as a constant sunward acceleration of each particular spacecraft of a_P = (8.74 \pm 1.33) x 10^{-10} m/s^2. This signal is known as the Pioneer anomaly; the nature of this anomaly remains unexplained. We discuss the efforts to retrieve the entire data sets of the Pioneer 10/11 radiometric Doppler data. We also report on the recently recovered telemetry files that may be used to reconstruct the engineering history of both
spacecraft using original project documentation and newly developed software tools. We discuss possible ways to further investigate the discovered effect using these telemetry files in conjunction with the analysis of the much extended Doppler data. We present the main objectives of new upcoming study of the Pioneer anomaly, namely i) analysis of the early data that could yield the direction of the anomaly, ii) analysis of planetary encounters, that should tell more about the onset of the anomaly, iii) analysis of the entire dataset, to better determine the anomaly's temporal behavior, iv) comparative analysis of individual anomalous accelerations for the two Pioneers, v) the detailed study of on-board systematics, and vi) development
of a thermal-electric-dynamical model using on-board telemetry. The outlined strategy may allow for a higher accuracy solution for a_P and, possibly, will lead to an unambiguous determination of the origin of the Pioneer anomaly.


Larry Kellogg
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NASA Science News for December 23, 2005
So you thought nothing ever happens on the moon? Think again.
NASA scientists have observed a surprising and powerful explosion in the lunar Sea of Rains.


Find out about the Science@NASA Podcast feed at .


More Information

As far as they know, Suggs and Swift were the only ones who recorded the impact of Nov. 7th—"probably because we were the only ones looking," says Suggs. So, unlike the lunar Leonids of 1999 and 2001, the lunar Taurid of 2005 was not confirmed by a second or third observer.

Nevertheless, "we are 99% sure it was real," says Suggs.

Other possibilities include

a satellite passing in front of the moon, glinting in sunlight;
a cosmic ray hitting the video camera's CCD chip;
a meteor in Earth's atmosphere, directly between Earth and the Moon.
"We don't believe it was a satellite," says Cooke who, together with
aerospace engineer Heather McNamara, searched through NORAD's catalogue of 8363 "trackable objects" in Earth orbit. "There was no unclassified satellite or piece of space debris in the right place at the right time to cause the flash."

It couldn't have been a cosmic ray. "We observed the lunar explosion in five consecutive video frames (total time span: 150 msec). A cosmic ray would have caused a flash in only one frame," explains Suggs.

And finally, it almost certainly couldn't have been a meteor in Earth's atmosphere. "To masquerade as a lunar impact, a meteor in Earth's atmosphere would have to be heading directly toward our observing site at the Marshall Space Flight Center, head on, so that it looked like a point rather than a streak of light," says Suggs. "A meteoroid hitting the moon is more plausible. Furthermore," he says, "the light curve of our Nov. 7th Taurid has the same shape as light curves of lunar Leonids observed in 1999 and 2001. Also, it doesn't match the light curve of a 'point meteor.'"

Right: The light curve of the flash observed by Suggs and Swift on Nov. 7, 2005. Credit: NASA/MSFC

Fireball Sightings 11.03.2005

Earth is orbiting through a swarm of space debris that may be producing an unusual number of nighttime fireballs.

New Research into Mysterious Moon Storms
By Trudy E. Bell & Dr. Tony Phillips
posted: 07 December 2005
05:07 pm ET

Every lunar morning, when the sun first peeks over the dusty soil of the moon after two weeks of frigid lunar night, a strange storm stirs the surface.

The next time you see the moon, trace your finger along the terminator, the dividing line between lunar night and day. That's where the storm is. It's a long and skinny dust storm, stretching all the way from the north pole to the south pole, swirling across the surface, following the terminator as sunrise ceaselessly sweeps around the moon.

Never heard of it? Few have. But scientists are increasingly confident that the storm is real.

The evidence comes from an old Apollo experiment called LEAM, short for Lunar Ejecta and Meteorites. "Apollo 17 astronauts installed LEAM on the moon in 1972," explains Timothy Stubbs of the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "It was designed to look for dust kicked up by small meteoroids hitting the moon's surface."
Billions of years ago, meteoroids hit the moon almost constantly, pulverizing rocks and coating the moon's surface with their dusty debris. Indeed, this is the reason why the moon is so dusty. Today these impacts happen less often, but they still happen.

Apollo-era scientists wanted to know, how much dust is ejected by daily impacts? And what are the properties of that dust? LEAM was to answer these questions using three sensors that could record the speed, energy, and direction of tiny particles: one each pointing up, east, and west.

LEAM's three-decade-old data are so intriguing, they're now being reexamined by several independent groups of NASA and university scientists. Gary Olhoeft, professor of geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, is one of them:

"To everyone's surprise," says Olhoeft, "LEAM saw a large number of particles every morning, mostly coming from the east or west--rather than above or below--and mostly slower than speeds expected for lunar ejecta."

What could cause this? Stubbs has an idea: "The dayside of the moon is positively charged; the nightside is negatively charged." At the interface between night and day, he explains, "electrostatically charged dust would be pushed across the terminator sideways," by horizontal electric fields.

Even more surprising, Olhoeft continues, a few hours after every lunar sunrise, the experiment's temperature rocketed so high--near that of boiling water--that "LEAM had to be turned off because it was overheating."

Those strange observations could mean that "electrically-charged moondust was sticking to LEAM, darkening its surface so the experiment package absorbed rather than reflected sunlight," speculates Olhoeft.

But nobody knows for sure. LEAM operated for a very short time: only 620 hours of data were gathered during the icy lunar night and a mere 150 hours of data from the blazing lunar day before its sensors were turned off and the Apollo program ended.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Transparent Aluminum - Fiction to Science - Science to Fiction - parallel universe

One might ask which comes first, the invention in some Sci-Fi plot or real science that is far out enough to qualify for Sci-Fi?

Your better authors will study what is going on in the real world or world soon to be, but not all new science is shared when you start touching on items that have potential military applications.

Jim Ickes passed a link about Star Trek imitating life, but did they know they were doing it when the script was written?
Life Imitates 'Star Trek'

"The chemical formula for transparent aluminum plays a key role in the plot of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home [1986].
In the movie, the formula is traded for Plexiglas sheets thick enough to create water tanks suitable for transporting two humpback whales through time, from the 20th century to the 23rd century, inside a Klingon Bird of Prey. Since the crew was temporarily stranded in the past without money appropriate to the period, they had to barter with the owner of the Plexicorp company (a fictional manufacturer of Plexiglas). Scotty trades the chemical formula for transparent aluminum for enough of the material to build the tanks."

"A new type of transparent armor made of aluminum could one day replace glass in military vehicles. . . . 'The substance itself is light-years ahead of glass,' said 1st Lt. Joseph La Monica, who heads the research."--LiveScience, Oct. 18, 2005

Recent publication from Raytheon indicates the real Transparent Aluminum is now going to be turned into commercial products but that it was a well guarded military secret. It was patented back in 1985 and the movie was released in 1986. Hmmmmm.
- LRK -

"ALON(R) was developed as advanced military material and kept as a well guarded secret," said Timothy C. Davis, president and chief executive officer of Surmet Corp. "It has never before been produced, marketed and available for commercial applications. With material properties similar to sapphire but with far lower costs, ALON(R) could be a replacement for many materials including alumina, quartz as well as sapphire."

It was interesting following the links on WikipediA and then doing some GOGGLE searches about ceramics and sintered materials.

Along the lines of commercial products using hard clear glass like material, the Seiko Kinetic watch has a back side of clear sapphire that is hard and scratch resistant.

Sapphire is corundum or Al2O3 with a hardness of 9. Looks like this new stuff has added nitrogen and is not quite as hard.

Would be interesting to know if this 'ALON(r)' could be made on the Moon and if only Raytheon would be allowed to do so. Tough, hard, clear material for windows to the view of the Lunar surface from your sealed lava tube lab might be nice especially if you wanted to fire a LASER through it. Ooops, now will be considered a military item falling under the purview of
International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and we will never hear of it again. :-(
- LRK -

Larry Kellogg
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Aluminum oxynitride

Aluminum oxynitride (AlON) is a transparent ceramic composed of aluminum, oxygen and nitrogen. It is marketed under the name ALON™ and described in U.S. Patent 4520116. The material remains solid up to 1200°C, and is harder than glass. When formed and polished as a window, the material currently (2005) costs about $USD10 to $USD15 per square inch.

It is currently the crucial outer layer of experimental transparent armor being considered by the US Air Force for the windows of armored vehicles. Other applications include semiconductors and retail fixtures.

Objects are usually formed from pressed, cast or molded powder. The formed objects are then densified by heating in an oven, and polished until transparent. The method of polishing has a substantial effect on the armor's impact resistance.

External links
United States Patent 4,520,116
Gentilman , et al. May 28, 1985
Transparent aluminum oxynitride and method of manufacture

An article of manufacture is provided comprising a polycrystalline cubic aluminum oxynitride having a density of at least 98% of theoretical density, and being transparent to electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range from 0.3 to 5 micrometers with an in-line transmission of at least 20% in this range. A method of preparing the optically transparent aluminum oxynitride is also provided comprising the steps of forming a green body of substantially homogeneous aluminum oxynitride powder and pressureless sintering said green body in a nitrogen atmosphere and in the presence of predetermined additives which enhance the sintering process. Preferred additives are boron and yttrium in elemental or compound form.

Inventors: Gentilman; Richard L. (Acton, MA); Maguire; Edward A. (Ashland, MA); Dolhert; Leonard E. (Malden, MA)
Assignee: Raytheon Company (Lexington, MA)
Appl. No.: 570419
Filed: January 13, 1984

Raytheon and Surmet Corp. to Develop and Market New Aluminum Oxynitride (ALON(R)) Products for Commercial, Defense and Homeland Security Applications LEXINGTON and BURLINGTON, Mass., July 25 /PRNewswire/ --

Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) has signed an agreement with Surmet Corp., a pioneer and technical leader in the Advanced Materials field, that allows Surmet Corp. to develop Raytheon's aluminum oxynitride (ALON(R)) manufacturing and process technologies. Surmet Corp. will initially focus on marketing ALON(R) to the semiconductor equipment, lighting, bio-medical, bar code scanner, defense and homeland security industries.

Raytheon developed ALON(R), which has the physical appearance of glass but has phenomenal ballistic properties, as an alternative material for sapphire for missile seeker window applications. ALON(R) products possess excellent light transmission, impact resistance and structural stability over a wide range of temperatures.

"ALON(R) was developed as advanced military material and kept as a well guarded secret," said Timothy C. Davis, president and chief executive officer of Surmet Corp. "It has never before been produced, marketed and available for commercial applications. With material properties similar to sapphire but with far lower costs, ALON(R) could be a replacement for many materials including alumina, quartz as well as sapphire."

"Using patented and proprietary plasma enhanced PVD and CVD processes,Surmet has developed advanced ceramic, metal and composite coatings that significantly improve the performance characteristics of many materials," said Dr. Suri Sastri, founder and chairman of Surmet Corp. "ALON(R) provides tremendous synergy for the technologies we have developed over the past 20 years. We are very excited to be acquiring rights to commercialize ALON(R) and working with Raytheon to commercialize this advanced material."

"This strategic relationship is the latest example of how Raytheon's leading-edge defense technology can be utilized in commercial markets to create a long term competitive advantage for our partner," said Glenn Lenzen, vice president of Raytheon's corporate Intellectual Property and Licensing department. "Surmet will be able to utilize ALON(R) in a variety of
applications and industries that would significantly benefit from the technical and cost characteristics."

Raytheon's Intellectual Property and Licensing department teamed with Raytheon Commercial Ventures Inc. (RCVI) to form the new partnership with Surmet Corp. RCVI was established in February 2001 to create a "commercialization engine" within Raytheon and since then Raytheon has spun technology into five companies where it has retained an equity interest.

Surmet Corp., of Burlington, Mass., is an industry leader in surface metallurgy and engineered coatings.

Based in Lexington, Mass., Raytheon Company is a global technology leader in defense, government and commercial electronics and business and special mission aircraft.

Amy Hosmer
Raytheon Company
Timothy C. Davis
Surmet Corp.
SOURCE Raytheon Company
Web site:
CONTACT: Amy Hosmer, of Raytheon Company, +1-781-860-2423; orTimothy C.
Davis, +1-781-272-3969, Surmet Corp.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Good day.

Ron Wells reminded me that Harrison H. Schmitt's new book is available on and I told him I had already ordered it and it was being
delivered as we speak.

Return to the Moon: Exploration, Enterprise, and Energy in the Human
Settlement of Space (Hardcover)
by Harrison H. Schmitt

Book Description

The Moon is not just a "local" destination, argues former NASA Astronaut
Harrison Schmitt. As a destination, the Moon presents us with a goal that
tests our resourcefulness and determination. How much are we willing to
spend to re-establish ourselves as space-farers? Return to the Moon proposes
that we begin planning, and now, for the establishment of human outposts on
the Moon — not just as an exercise in technology and discovery, and not just
as a way of fulfilling our destiny as explorers and pioneers. Schmitt,
having himself traveled to and literally walked on the Moon, is no stranger
to technology, discovery, and a sense of our destiny as explorers; but in
this book he focuses on a return to the moon as a business proposition.

About the Author

Harrison Schmitt is, as of this date, the 12th and last human to have
stepped on the Moon. As an astronaut, pilot, geologist, academic,
businessman, and United States Senator, he has had a distinguished career in
science and technology practice and policy. Schmitt was the first scientist
to go into space specifically to explore the Moon as the Lunar Module Pilot
and field geologist on the last Lunar Mission, Apollo 17. He is active in
private and government sponsored research into a return to the Moon, and in
fusion technologies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is
Adjunct Professor of Engineering. In his role as a Senator (R-NM, 1977-1983)
he was chairman of the Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Science,
Technology, and Space.


Ron knows Jack Schmitt and has worked with the Apollo 17 images.

He wrote a review of the book for which you can read there along
with another review by William Franklin.

I have copied a bit longer review from Ron below.

I'll let you know my thoughts when I get my copy. - LRK -

You might ask, why so enthusiastic about another book on going back to the

Glad you asked.

Over the years to this lunar-update list I have mentioned books like "THE
MOON - Resources, Future Development and Colonization" by David Schrunk,
Burton Sharpe, Bonnie Cooper and Madhu Thangavelu and the book by Peter
Eckart, "the Lunar Base Handbook" and the web references to Jack Schmitt's
teaching at the University of Wisconsin Fusion Technology.

These reference showed us just what would be required to set up camp on the
Moon and how to go about utilizing the resources there.

At the same time the Lunar Prospector mission was being proposed, so also
was a plan for going back to the Moon by Harrison H. Schmitt.

Back then one was not really being heard about putting us back on the Moon
For Real.

A cheap mission like Lunar Prospector would only be one step in preparing
for a return. What Jack was pushing for was a way to get us out of the
energy crises that has us now at $60 plus a barrel for oil.

There needs to be a good reason to go back to the Moon, more than just what
science from a spacecraft can provide.

If you can turn a profit by utilizing the resources from space and help us
here back on Earth, then it will happen.

That will take some sound engineering, some excitement from investors, and
the support of the general public who are already spending millions of
dollars on sports heros.

I think what Jack is talking about in his book may well be of interest to
you who have been looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

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Book review by Ron Wells - LRK -
Harrison H. (Jack) Schmitt was the last of 12 humans to set foot on the Moon
during the Apollo 17 mission in December, 1972, and the only scientist, a
geologist with extensive field experience. Had NASA not sent Jack to the
Moon, his contributions to the Apollo program would still have been enormous
because largely through his efforts the other Apollo astronauts received
training in field geology. But fortunately, he was sent, and those readers
who may have perused the on-line "Apollo Lunar Surface Journal"
( know that Jack's professional background was
indispensable for his 3-day exploration of the Valley of Taurus-Littrow.
That value was particularly manifested by his discovery of the orange soil
at Shorty Crater, Station 4, on the 2nd day of the mission, and his
on-the-spot field analysis of the origin of the house-sized broken boulder
on the slopes of the North Massif at Station 6 on the 3rd day. Now, 33 years
after his mission, Jack has written "Return to the Moon", an astonishing
book in the breadth covered by the 14 chapters with notes & references at
the end of each. No one interested in the practical application of going
back to the Moon and on to Mars can afford to miss reading this exposition.

The book is an outgrowth of course lectures that Jack gave at the University
of Wisconsin-Madison over several years, the last series in the Spring of
2004, but brought up to date and expanded considerably. His students must
have really enjoyed attending those classes because he is a great lecturer!
The basic premise, of course, is the establishment of a permanent lunar
mining colony to process and ship Helium-3 (He-3) back to the Earth to fuel
fusion reactors as a private commercial enterprise. Jack explains how these
mostly pollution-free fusion reactions work and their significance to the
global economy.

But the book covers much more than He-3 mining. It essentially spans the
entire period of U.S. space exploration from Eisenhower's establishment of
NASA and his order to construct the Saturn V heavy booster through today's
problems faced by Mike Griffin, the current NASA Administrator. And Jack
pulls no punches. Chapters 9 and 10 are a Tour de Force. Chpt 9 treats the
lessons Apollo taught us, and where we went wrong in the post-Apollo period.
Chpt. 10 is an annotated collection of lengthy emails with the current White
House's first Administration (primarily the OMB) on how NASA should be
restructured and why. He points out that NASA and the U.S. public in general
have become too risk adverse, which can lead to stagnation and ultimately to
stopping space exploration altogether. He also takes NASA to task for having
ignored biomedical research on humans in space as a seriously funded
endeavor with the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug
Administration. He explains in detail the kinds of experiments that were
done and their significance, but that NASA basically took an "air sickness"
approach to any problems that astronauts manifested (when they admitted to
having problems). He also discusses what kind of medical problems need
further examination. Jack even advocates that he and his remaining fellow
Moon walkers should be subject to thorough targeted autopsies because little
is known of the effects of breathing in Moon dust laden with glass! Such
effects need to be clearly defined before establishing a lunar settlement.

The core financial analysis of returning to the Moon uses 6 models: (1)
All-US Govt; (2) Multilateral (i.e., ISS approach); (3) Intelsat model; (4)
private/Govt partnership; (5) private/Govt-funded Research, Test,
Development & Evaluation partnership; and (6) all-private. These are not
simple calculations, but rather detailed cost estimates of the various
components needed to guarantee a successful return to the Moon with
justifications for each choice. The most efficient and cheapest method turns
out to be (6), with (5) reasonably close behind. The worst model was, of
course, the International Space Station (ISS) approach, followed by the
all-US Govt approach.

People who run businesses will enjoy the business acumen that Jack displays
in these computations and throughout the book. In addition to the cost
analyses, he covers legal issues, managerial problems, and how big projects
such as a return to the Moon should be organized. Once a commercially viable
lunar colony has been established, the economic returns governed by the
colony products and the worldwide distribution of power on Earth will serve
to form a more stable civilization, one view of humankind's manifest destiny
that ought not be overlooked.

There are a number of books on the market today advocating colonization of
the Moon and travel to Mars, in fact there is another one on with
the same principal title as Jack's book. But Jack is the only author who can
truly say: "been there, done that". His book not only proves that, but
drawing on that experience also justifies his privilege to have walked on
the moon.

Ron Wells
University of California, retired
Science and Exploration; Speech by Michael Griffin to the American
Geophysical Union
Date Released: Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Source: NASA HQ

6 Dec 2005

I'm here today to talk about what science at NASA means to U.S. leadership
in space exploration, and in the world at large. I will also address
specific components of our Science Mission Directorate plans, and discuss
the opportunities in science that we expect to result from both our new
exploration plan and our ongoing decadal research plans.

To begin, I think that some perspective on the role of science in our
national life might be in order. We are all here in San Francisco this
evening because we believe that what we do is important, not only to our
specific disciplines, but also to society at large. It is our good fortune
to live in a society that invests in and greatly values scientific
achievement. Indeed, most of us have grown up in a world in which we take it
for granted that the United States government will invest significant
taxpayers' resources in scientific research. But this has not always been
the case; prior to World War II, government investment in scientific
research was miniscule.

But the contributions of science and technology to the war effort prompted
President Roosevelt to request a report from Dr. Vannevar Bush, the Director
of the Office of Scientific Research, on how scientific expertise could be
used in the post-war world. Bush's report, Science: The Endless Frontier,
provided the framework for much of the federal backing of scientific
research of which many of us have been or currently are the beneficiaries.
In his report, Bush wrote, "It is in keeping also with basic U.S. policy
that the government should foster the opening of new frontiers and this is
the modern way to do it." I think Dr. Bush got it exactly right.

America's space program is a prime example of a successful national
investment in opening new frontiers that became possible precisely because
our leaders thought about scientific advancement in this new context. Today
we conduct bold and rewarding, but costly, scientific activities in space
today because our leaders two generations ago viewed American preeminence in
all aspects of space exploration as essential to maintaining world
leadership. It was in this same spirit that, nearly two years ago, President
Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration, noting its implementation
would advance America's economic, scientific and security interests.

In this sense, science is the beneficiary of our commitment to seek out and
explore new frontiers. While exploration has historically spurred
technological innovation and commercial enterprise, it has also led to the
flowering of scientific activity. I have high hopes for the scientific
progress we will achieve as we pursue the Vision for Space Exploration.

Through space exploration and related scientific activities, we can project
humankind's vantage point into space, both virtually and physically with
robots and humans. From space and in space, our scientific initiatives
encompass questions as practical as tomorrow's weather and as profound as
the origin and nature of the Universe.

>From space, we can view the Earth as a planet ? one member of a solar system
governed by a typical main-sequence star midway through its life cycle. We
can view the Earth's relationship with the Sun, shaped not just by gravity,
but by the solar wind, solar radiation, and the Earth's own magnetic field
and atmosphere. And we can view the Earth in its entirety, seeing the
interconnectedness of the oceans, atmosphere, continents, ice sheets and
life itself. We can observe and track global-scale changes, and perceive
regional changes in their global context. We can observe the role that human
civilization increasingly plays as a force of change. Earth science at NASA
is Earth system science, the study of Planet Earth as dynamic system of
diverse components interacting in complex ways. We are learning to trace
cause to effect, to connect variation with response, and vastly improve
national capabilities to predict climate, weather, and natural hazards.
Thus, NASA research is also an essential part of national and international
efforts to employ Earth science and observation in service to society.

In space, we are extending our virtual presence via robotic missions to
other planets and their moons, to asteroids and comets, and to the Kuiper
Belt. We are in the midst of a full-scale investigation of Mars, with one or
more missions launching every twenty-six months. We are directing more of
our attention to the moons of the giant planets as we see intriguing signs
of both water and dynamism on their surfaces, knowing that on Earth, where
there is water and energy there is also life. We are progressing from
observers to rovers to sample return missions, each step bringing us closer
to our principal goals: to understand whether life does or did exist
elsewhere in the Solar System, and to prepare for human expeditions to other
planetary bodies.

The human exploration of space will benefit from the scientific research
that we conduct in support of the Vision. The selection of lunar and Martian
landing sites, the development of techniques for operations in differing
radiation environments and atmospheres, and the exploitation of the Lagrange
points are examples of the productive interactions we anticipate between
science and exploration as each is pursued for its own purposes.

But having painted this picture, let me make a second point about the space
frontier, which is that in fact we have barely entered it. To gain some
historical perspective on the matter, consider that the great European
voyages of maritime discovery began in the early 15th Century with the
founding, by Prince Henry the Navigator, of the School of Oceanic Navigation
in Sagres, Portugal in 1418. Though he never went to sea himself, Prince
Henry sponsored a long series of voyages of exploration down the coast of
Africa, in search of a seagoing path to the Orient.

Henry's vision for ocean exploration was "a journey, not a race." In 1420
the Madeira Islands were discovered by Joao Zarco. In 1434, after no less
than fourteen expeditions had failed ? many of them simply never returning ?
Henry's man Gil Eannes finally made it through the treacherous waters off
Cape Bojador, on the coast of Africa south of the Canary Islands, and
returned alive. Portuguese explorers rounded the western bulge of Africa in
1460, the year of Henry's death. And the southern tip of Africa, the Cape of
Good Hope, was finally reached by Bartolomeu Dias in 1488. Vasco da Gama
reached India in 1498. By the time Columbus sailed westward in search of a
shorter, easier path to Asia, European maritime exploration had been firmly
underway for almost 75 years. Yet today, we think of the 1492 voyage of the
Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria as the beginning of everything. That is
hardly the case.

The space age, for all its achievements, is less than fifty years old, and
is just getting underway. To date, twelve human beings have explored the
surface of the moon for a total time of less than one man-month; it is now
my job to make that number grow by leaps and bounds. Our initial scientific
reconnaissance of the solar system is still incomplete, with NASA planning
to launch the New Horizons mission next month to conduct the first robotic
exploration of Pluto. We have also barely scratched the surface when it
comes to understanding the extent and nature of extra-solar planets. In just
ten years, more than 150 planets beyond our solar system have been
discovered, and there are indications that at least one has the same rocky
characteristics as our home planet. And as this audience knows quite well,
we have only begun to tap the potential of Earth observing, weather, and
other remote sensing satellites.

Continuing on the theme that we are just at the dawn of the true space age,
let me point out that in a matter of years, people around the globe will be
able to look up at a new moon, and with the aid of a good telescope, be able
to see the glimmering lights of a research station on the lunar surface. At
this research station, pioneering astronauts will be learning how to obtain
oxygen from the lunar regolith. They will be deploying antennas on the back
side of the moon, linked in phase to form the largest radio telescope ever
built, free of radio noise from Earth. They will be engaged in geological
exploration of the moon, finally establishing the origins of our Earth-moon
system. And other astronauts, in Earth orbit, will be readying a 500 ton
spaceship for mankind's first voyage to Mars.

This is the direction for our space program that two successive Congresses
have endorsed, and that, according to a very recent Gallup Poll,
three-quarters of our citizens "support", or "strongly support". This
support is found roughly in equal proportions across the political spectrum,
and between the genders. This is the kind of support that will fuel many of
our space science initiatives in the future. And we are just at the

Having said this, I am aware that many in the science community have
questioned NASA's commitment to science, and believe their own work to be
gravely threatened by the Vision for Space Exploration. Let me speak
directly to this point. I have frequently stated my belief that exploration
will be a boon for science in the long-term. I have also said on many
occasions that it is not our desire to sacrifice present-day scientific
efforts for the sake of future benefits to be derived from exploration. We
who run NASA today are doing our very best to preserve these efforts in the
face of, frankly, some daunting fiscal realities. But we also must avoid
setting unrealistic expectations. NASA's $5.4 billion investment in its
Earth and space science portfolio is almost the size of the entire National
Science Foundation, and this robust portfolio has grown at a rate
significantly greater than has NASA's top line budget over the past decade.
Such growth cannot logically be supported within an overall portfolio that
is at best fixed in constant dollars.

But we must also acknowledge the plain fact that we cannot do everything
that was on our plate when I assumed office. All of you know many reasons
why this is so. NASA can only move forward on our fundamental missions of
exploration, science and aeronautics at the pace that available resources
will allow, so it is important to be as efficient as possible in allocating
these resources. To this end, we have made several changes in recent months,
and I would like to discuss some of these changes with you tonight.

First, we are reconstituting the organization the Science Mission
Directorate into separate offices for Earth science, heliophysics, planetary
science and physics and astronomy.

Second, Mary is defining an executable science program across each of these
portfolios in Earth and space science. She is conducting a rigorous review
of each flight project now in formulation and development, and establishing
gates through which each program must pass in order to proceed from
formulation to development. This process requires balancing technical
performance against cost, evaluating the management team that is in place,
and rigorously identifying risks and defining plans to mitigate them. We
very much need better cost discipline in the large assignment missions, as
cost growth inhibits the future of the smaller, but incredibly prolific,
competed lines.

Third, we are returning to NASA's classical approach to science management,
including relying on outside bodies for strategic advice on the ranking of
missions by priority. In each of the four major elements of our research
portfolio, we will establish priorities through dialog with the science
community, based on the budget realities we face. The decadal surveys of the
National Research Council have proven essential to this process in the past,
and we will continue to rely on them as authoritative sources of science
community priorities. We also will engage in more frequent venues for dialog
with the science community, such as professional society conferences like
these. For tactical level advice we will engage the science community in
workshops that help us to implement successful programs by balancing
detailed technical requirements, cost and schedule. A principle source of
advice at this level is the NASA Advisory Council, which has just been
reconstituted. The NAC has five committees, including a five-member science
committee with many subcommittees. I believe the latter group's advice will
be very helpful to the agency.

Many of you are interested in our plans for Earth science. While it is true
this activity does not get the media attention that human spaceflight and
planetary exploration receive, I can assure you it is an important activity
that we are determined to continue well beyond the completion of the Earth
Observation System.

I believe most of you know that I have significantly re-emphasized Earth
science since rejoining NASA earlier this year. Our Earth science programs
are essential to the accomplishment of three initiatives begun by President
Bush: The Climate Change Research program, the Global Earth Observation
System and the Oceans Action Plan. We recognize that through our
contributions to these initiatives, NASA is providing researchers around the
world with unprecedented access to diverse data about the Earth system. This
is being done at a time when there are huge societally relevant questions
about global changes that require the view from space.

One need look no further than NASA's contributions to this season's
hurricane predictions to recognize that we are getting tremendous value out
of our Earth observation satellites. Indeed, as a result of NASA's
development and deployment in the past decade of the Tropical Rainfall
Measuring Mission (TRMM), the Aqua satellite and the Quickscat sea winds
measurement instrument, our colleagues at the National Weather Service are
now able to predict the formation of tropical storms nine days instead of
seven days out, and predict landfall within 400 miles of coastline instead
of 800. Such advances allow significant improvement in the marshalling of
resources to deal with the inevitable property destruction of, and better
warning to people likely to be affected by, major hurricanes.

At NASA's request, the National Research Council has undertaken its first
decadal survey for Earth science and applications from space. Our colleagues
at NOAA and the U.S. Geological Survey are co-sponsors of this effort, whose
results should be available by the end of next year. We will use these
results to create a profile with an optimal mix of systematic and
exploratory missions, technology development, and research programs to
implement the survey's priorities and the presidential initiatives I

Turning to the sun, NASA's heliophysics program is helping us to gain a
better understanding of the sun, and the sun's interaction with Earth, other
planetary environments, and interplanetary space itself. We have used a
strategy of deploying frequent, smaller missions within this vast system to
form a distributed Great Observatory that is truly greater than the sum of
its parts. Next year, we are poised to reap the rewards of several years of
hard work.

In 2006, we will launch STEREO, a mission to track the evolution of solar
disturbances from the sun's surface to Earth's orbit; the five-satellite
THEMIS mission to determine the causes of space weather reconfigurations of
Earth's near space environment; and the AIM small explorer satellite that
will examine the formation of the highest altitude clouds in Earth's
atmosphere in response to external and internal forcing functions. Also next
year, we look forward to deployment of the NASA CINDI and TWINS instruments
on two DoD missions, and to providing instrumentation for Japan's Solar-B
mission that will resolve magnetic fields on the sun's surface and how they
interact with the sun's outer atmosphere.

Similarly, our planetary program is guided by the decadal surveys we have in
hand, and we will proceed with our planetary mission priorities as quickly
as our budget will allow. One area pinpointed for further attention is the
Moon. As we plan to return to the Moon to open up the next great era of
space exploration, I'd like to mention a few of the new vistas a more
extensive focus on lunar exploration will provide. Paul Spudis, my former
colleague at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, has
written extensively on the subject, including a Scientific American article
from December 2003 that I commend to your attention. In the article, Paul
notes that scientists still have many unanswered questions about the Moon's
history, composition and internal structure, whose understanding may also
illuminate the history of all the rocky planets in the inner solar system.
Paul also wrote of the importance of determining whether significant amounts
water ice do in fact exist in lunar polar areas. If confirmed, such a
discovery would offer the hope that a lunar base would have a source of
water for life support as well as for rocket fuel.

We're looking at a number of promising lunar science targets in our Robotic
Lunar Exploration Program, an activity that links our Exploration and
Science Mission Directorates. Their collaboration began with the Lunar
Reconnaissance Orbiter now in development for launch in 2008. The Science
Mission Directorate managed the selection process for the Lunar
Reconnaissance Orbiter instruments, and will play a Program and Project
Scientist role in spacecraft development managed by the Exploration Systems
Mission Directorate.

Of course, we're also interested in outer planet exploration which
represents some of the most challenging scientific missions NASA carries
out. I already mentioned the New Horizons mission set to launch next month.
We're in the preliminary design phase for the Juno mission that will
investigate whether an icy rock core exists at the center of Jupiter, and
NASA hopes to conduct future missions to investigate the potential of life
at Europa, Titan, and other compelling targets for outer planet exploration.
Again, these missions represent some of the most technically challenging
science missions for NASA over the next decade. And I'm also very intrigued
by Ed Lu and Rusty Schweickart's ideas about nudging large near-Earth
asteroids before they can pose a threat to humanity. We will most certainly
continue our work to discover large asteroids close to the Earth.

It is important to note that we cannot accomplish all our goals for science
and exploration on our own. We're very fortunate to have strong partnerships
with a number of spacefaring countries. Today, 29 of NASA's 53 ongoing
planetary, astronomy and Earth-observing satellites and spacecraft missions
include international participation, with NASA involved in 13 operating
science missions led by our international partners. As I've said on numerous
occasions, I am looking forward to the opportunity to enlarge and extend
these partnerships.

In closing, please allow me to offer a few thoughts on what we might achieve
in science if we move ahead with purpose and dispatch with our space
exploration program.

By 2020 we will be surveying our portion of the galaxy to create a census of
extra-solar planets, and using the next generation of space telescopes to
study the origin and destiny of the universe. We will be probing the Martian
surface and subsurface for resources that will enable human exploration, and
to answer questions about the past and present habitability of Mars.
Together with our partners we will have created a global Earth observing
system that includes sentinel satellites in higher orbits communicating with
active remote sensing systems in lower orbits. These systems will provide
both real time information for hazard warning and management and the long
term data records required to understand and predict global change.

All of these advances will come about because of the hard work and
commitment of our diverse community, which I believe has its greatest
successes when we allow the pursuit of exploration and scientific progress
to complement each other.
I thank you for your hospitality today, and again extend my heartfelt thanks
to all of you for your commitment to regaining the initiative that has
driven our past successes.





Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Well it is several days into December already and a new year almost upon us.

One reason to think about going to space might be to stretch our imagination
and many have done just that in Science Fiction. Then comes science fact
and a whole new line of marketable goods here on mother Earth.

You might enjoy looking at the following web site.
- LRK -

Home Glossary Author Book Timeline New
Explore the wide variety of inventions and ideas of science fiction
writers - over 900 are available on Technovelgy (that's tek-novel-gee!). Use
the Timeline of Science Fiction Invention or the alphabetic Glossary of
Science Fiction Technology to see them all, look for the category that
interests you, browse by favorite author / book or check Science Fiction in
the News and watch sf come to life.
Here's to looking up in the New Year.
- LRK -

Larry Kellogg
Web Site
Blog Spot
RSS link
News ltr
Central City (Lunar Habitat)
An early example of a non-military lunar habitat.
Central City was twenty miles from the spaceport, and Sadler had seen
nothing of the lunar metropolis on his arrival...
The cluster of great domes began to hump themselves over the horizon...
Some, Sadler knew, could be made transparent when desired. All were opaque
now, conserving their heat against the lunar night.

...the whole dome was countersunk... into the lunar plain, thus reducing the
amount of roof structure necessary... there was a blue sky overhead... the
sun was shining just behind him, and... there were cirrus clouds floating
high above.

>From Earthlight, by Arthur C. Clarke.
Published by Del Rey in 1955
New! Related resources -
The dome maintenance crews even planned occasional "thundershowers" that
used water from above to clean both air and structure.
In 2002 a Lunar Base Design Workshop was organised by the Institute for
Design and Building Construction of the University of Technology in Vienna.

The first workshop was held at ESTEC, ESA's Research and Technology Centre
in the Netherlands. Around 40 students from 16 countries attended the
two-week workshop. A second workshop took place in Vienna in July 2002.
Below are some of the designs that the students came up with for lunar bases
and stations on Mars.

Slide 49(B) of 99
S.E.I. Back to the Moon to Stay. (Space Exploration Initiative)

NASA/Johnson Space Center [November 1989]
LUNAR OUTPOST, Alred, Bufkin, Kennedy, Roberts, Petro, Stecklein & Sturm ,
Systems Definition Branch, Advanced Programs Office, NASA/Johnson Space
Center [1989]
Space Stations and Manned Spaceflight in the 1980s and 90s
Sinde 99 of 99
The Space Review
Apollo: what didn’t get built
by Taylor Dinerman
Monday, May 2, 2005

Anyone with a serious interest in space history should get their hands on a
copy of James R. Hansen’s monograph, Enchanted Rendezvous: John C. Houbolt
and the Genesis of the Lunar-Orbit Rendezvous Concept, published by NASA’s
history office in 1998. It clears up any number of misconceptions about the
nature of the early Moon program. For example, the Earth Orbit Rendezvous
option, on which Wernher von Braun and his team spent so much time and
effort, did not require building a permanent space station. It also makes
clear just how much (or how little) work NASA had done on the lunar landing
project before President Kennedy made his famous May 25, 1961 speech.
Romance to Reality
First Lunar Outpost (FLO) Conceptual Flight Profile, JSC-25880, Systems
Engineering Division, Engineering Directorate, NASA Johnson Space Center,
June 1992.

The Exploration Program Office (ExPO) at NASA's Johnson Space Center in
Houston, Texas, launched the First Lunar Outpost (FLO) study in December
1991 by establishing six study teams. The present document, prepared by the
JSC Systems Engineering Division and McDonnell Douglas-Houston to aid the
FLO Mission Design and Analysis Team, details FLO Habitat and Crew Lander
flight plans. For its analysis, it targets the first FLO expedition to Mare
Smythii on the moon's eastern limb. Its most significant departure from the
January 1992 FLO [read] is the assumption that NASA will develop a
heavy-lift rocket capable of launching 200 metric tons to 185-kilometer
low-Earth orbit (LEO) and 27 metric tons to the lunar surface [read] [view].
This permits the two FLO landers (Habitat and Crew) to be launched with
their respective Trans-Lunar Injection (TLI) stages attached, eliminating
rendezvous, docking, and reliance on Earth-orbiting space stations from the
FLO plan. In other words, this FLO iteration uses the Direct Ascent mode
considered for the Apollo lunar missions, while the January 1992 FLO used
Earth-Orbital Rendevous, another Apollo mode candidate. The first FLO
expedition is set to start five years after program initiation; the report
calls this "not only feasible and attractive, but essential in gaining
budget acceptance." The FLO Habitat flight from Earth to moon occurs as

Launch - October 5, 1999, 0930 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT): The unpiloted FLO
Habitat and its attached TLI stage lift off from Kennedy Space Center (KSC)
in pre-dawn darkness. Apollo 17's December 1972 night launch atop a Saturn V
rocket is said to have lit KSC like day and cast shadows in Orlando, 40
miles away. FLO's launcher, 1.7 times more powerful than Saturn V, would
create an even more impressive display. Two launch windows (one in darkness)
are generally available per day. These last about 4.5 hours each if the
launch azimuth (that is, direction) is kept within a range spanning 72
degrees (that is, toward the northeast) when the launch window opens and 108
degrees (southeast) when it closes. Assuming an on-time launch, the rocket
places the Habitat and TLI stage into a 185-kilometer (100-nautical-mile)
parking orbit inclined 33.26 degrees to Earth's equator.

TLI - October 5, 1999, 1051 GMT: If KSC launch occurs as the first launch
window opens, TLI stage ignition occurs 81 minutes later. For the first
daily launch window, TLI occurs while the Habitat and TLI stage are over the
Pacific. The TLI stage must be used within 4.5 hours of KSC launch lest its
liquid hydrogen fuel boil and escape; this creates a limit of three TLI
opportunities per launch window. TLIs for the second daily launch window
occur over the Atlantic. The TLI stage adds 3.15 kilometers per second to
the Habitat's speed to put it on course for the moon, separates, then fires
its engines again to distance itself from the Habitat. The stage can be
targeted to collide with the moon at a desired location or can fly past and
enter solar orbit. At separation the Habitat Lander consists of a descent
stage and a permanently attached pressurized Habitat module. The FLO Habitat
and FLO Crew Lander use a common-design descent stage.

Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) - October 10, 1999, 1051 GMT: The Habitat's
coast to the moon lasts five days. Rather than descend directly to the moon,
the Habitat fires its rocket engines to enter 100-kilometer circular orbit,
then performs a deorbit burn at the earliest opportunity - in this case, 58
minutes later (1149 GMT). This approach permits access to sites all over the
moon ("essential [for providing] a capability to reach areas of highest
interest and greatest potential return") and demands less propellant than
direct landing.

Lunar landing - October 10, 1999, 1253 GMT: After the deorbit burn, the
Habitat coasts in an elliptical 100-kilometer-by-18.5-kilometer orbit.
Perilune (the lowest point in its orbit) occurs near the Mare Smythii
landing site. It fires its rockets to commence powered descent to the lunar
surface at 1246 GMT, just after it passes perilune. After braking for nearly
six minutes, the Habitat pitches over in a leisurely 60-second maneuver to
point its footpads toward the lunar surface. The Habitat descends vertically
100 meters in 24 seconds, then touches down at Mare Smythii five days, three
hours, and 23 minutes after leaving KSC.
Romance to Reality: moon & Mars mission plans
It is part of the nature of man to start with romance and build to a
- Ray Bradbury

Romance to Reality contains more than 400 detailed annotations (that is,
summaries and descriptions) of classic, seminal, and illustrative moon and
Mars exploration studies dating from 1950 to present. These are arranged in
15 sections by subject. I continually add to this site because I want to

* make widely available the legacy of ideas engineers and scientists have
developed for exploring the moon and Mars

* teach about the challenges and opportunities of exploring the moon and

* give insight into the historical context of moon and Mars exploration

* provide an exciting glimpse of possible futures by looking into the past

* help in a small way to build a future including human activities on the
moon and Mars

My criteria for selecting documents to annotate are admittedly fluid. I give
emphasis to studies which emerged as important to later planning, but also
include those that help to illustrate the wide range of moon and Mars
options. Romance to Reality is meant to be a primer for building the future,
not merely a catalog of unrealized dreams. - David S. F. Portree
February 19, 1998

NC State Team Designs Construction of Lunar Habitat
Students and faculty at NC State are shooting for the moon as they create
plans that may help NASA develop a lunar station. The team of students and
faculty from a broad range of disciplines, including students and faculty
from electrical and computer engineering, mechanical and aerospace
engineering, civil engineering and the School of Design, has developed
prototypes of a robot, lunar lander and habitat module to create NASA's
proposed living quarters for astronauts and researchers on the moon.

The team has taken the name HELIOS, an acronym for Habitat Exploration
Leaders in Outer Space and a reference to the Greek god of the sun. Their
mission is to compete in the Space '98 Robotics Competition, a national
competition sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
and the American Society of Civil Engineers that will be held in
Albuquerque, NM, April 26-30. NASA and ASCE sponsor the event as part of the
national Space Education Initiative. The ideas generated by the student
teams will be reviewed by NASA personnel and members of the aerospace
industry in the effort to meet NASA's goal of making the moon habitable by
the year 2010.

"Our designs or modifications of our designs could be what NASA uses to
create the first lunar station," says Jason Janet, HELIOS adviser and
doctoral candidate in electrical engineering. "It is exciting to play a part
in the future of space exploration."

The competition, which is run similarly to calls for government design
contracts, is designed to raise the awareness of future engineering
opportunities in space by challenging students in traditionally
non-space-related engineering disciplines to apply their skills toward the
solution of space-based problems. NASA has provided a set of specifications,
and each team must present design proposals and demonstrate proof-of-concept
using 1/12th scale prototypes. NC State's HELIOS team will compete with
other major engineering universities to see which team can create
engineering plans and working models of everything needed to build a home on
the moon for researchers and space travelers.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Good day and for some, Happy Thanksgiving shopping crush.

You want to launch cheaply, let a commercial firm do it, you say.
Too much hassle in the big government projects.

Not all that easy getting those first launches completed though.

You say SpaceX can do it.

Well a bit of perseverance required and stepping aside for the big guys that want to play with their sand lot.

Mother nature has her vote too.

Now need another load of liquid Oxygen for next try.

Even the 12.5 inch cube payload FalconSAT-2 has had to find different ways to space.
Cadet built satellite reaches for the stars

By Academy Public Affairs
FalconSAT-2 was shipped to the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Test Site on Kwajalien Atoll in the Marshall Islands, located in the central Pacific. The satellite will ride into space aboard a commercial rocket, in a launch scheduled for Nov. 25 at 1 p.m.

FalconSAT-2 was originally slated for launch aboard a space shuttle in early 2003, but the Columbia disaster put that launch on hold until this year.

This satellite is the product of the Academy's Space Systems Research Center, where cadets "learn space by doing space," said Lt. Col. Tim Lawrence, center director. The center runs a multi-disciplinary two-semester astronautical engineering course where cadets put theory into practice by designing and constructing a small satellite for Department of Defense research programs. They will then operate the satellite from the Academy's ground station.
Well I expect we will have an interesting time looking up in the New Year as well.
- LRK -

Larry Kellogg
Web Site
Blog Spot
RSS link
News ltr
SpaceX Scrubs Maiden Flight of Falcon 1 Rocket
By Tariq Malik
Staff Writer
posted: 26 November 2005
8:50 p.m. ET
This story was updated at 9:38 p.m. EST.

SpaceX officials called off the inaugural flight of their Falcon 1 rocket Saturday after a launch countdown beleaguered by poor weather, an engine computer glitch and liquid oxygen fill tank problems.

"As I warned, the likelihood of an all new rocket launching from an all new launch pad on its first attempt is low," said SpaceX founder Elon Musk in a written statement.

SpaceX officials scrubbed today's planned space shot at about 8:00 p.m. EST (0100 Nov. 27 GMT), deep within a launch window that was extended to 10:00 p.m. EST (0300 Nov. 27 GMT) during the countdown.

Musk added that the Falcon 1 flight could be rescheduled within one week, but would likely take longer since additional liquid oxygen fuel must be delivered from Hawaii to the firm’s remote launch site on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean’s Marshall Islands chain.

Today’s attempted space shot was slated to orbit the FalconSat-2 satellite on a mission for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Air Force. The $800,000 satellite – built by cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy – is designed to study space plasma and its potential to interfere with navigation and communication satellites, U.S. Air Force Academy officials said.

The cube-shaped satellite measures about 12.5 inches (32 centimeters) per side and weighs about 43 pounds (19.5 kilograms), academy spokesman John van Winkle told, adding that the spacecraft carries one miniature electrostatic analyzer to study space plasma.

A tricky countdown

The El Segundo, California-based SpaceX hoped to make its commercial launch service debut with today’s planned space shot. The firm has spent about three years developing a family of Falcon boosters to grow from its Falcon 1 design and Merlin rocket engine.

"Unfortunately, in this business there is always a chance for something not to go [as planned]," said Larry Williams, SpaceX vice president for international and government affairs, as the countdown clock ticked down.

SpaceX launch officials initially set a four-hour launch window for today’s Falcon 1 flight.

Poor weather caused a one-hour delay early in the countdown, though an incorrectly set valve on a liquid oxygen fuel fill tank led to a longer hiatus that eventually prompted SpaceX officials to extend their launch window.

But the loss of liquid oxygen – which boils away during launch preparations and must be replenished regularly – was too great, SpaceX officials said, adding that a main engine computer glitch also caused enough concern to reschedule the mission.

Launch debut deferred

SpaceX aims at providing low-cost launch services for both small and large payloads. Falcon 1 launches have a set cost of about $6.7 million, Musk said before today’s launch attempt.

The firm’s Falcon 1 rocket is a two-stage booster that stands about 68 feet (21 meters) tall and carries a reusable first stage. Its Merlin 1 engine is designed to generate about 77,000 pounds of thrust and loft payloads of up to 1,256 pounds (570 kilograms) into low-Earth orbit, SpaceX officials have said.

SpaceX Sets Launch Debut for Falcon 1 Rocket
By Tariq Malik
Staff Writer
posted: 18 November 2006
8:00 p.m. ET

The private launch firm SpaceX will loft its Falcon 1 rocket on Nov. 25, marking the booster’s maiden flight and hopefully the first of many space shots to come, the company’s chief said Friday.

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of the El Segundo, California-based SpaceX, said his firm’s first Falcon 1 rocket will liftoff from its equatorial launch site at 4:00 p.m. EST (2100 GMT) on a mission to orbit a small U.S. Air Force Academy satellite.

"I actually don’t feel nervous, I feel relief," Musk told reporters during a press conference. "No matter what happens next week, this is something that is the first stepping stone in reducing the cost of access to space."

SpaceX’s Falcon 1 rocket carries a reusable first stage, the firm’s homegrown Merlin engine and a price tag of about $6.7 million, SpaceX officials said.

The rocket’s first flight will launch from the U.S. military’s Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Test Site on Omelek Island near Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean’s Marshall Islands – where it will be 9:00 a.m. local time when the countdown reaches zero – though future spaceflights will also be staged from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, they added.

"We feel at peace with ourselves in this launch because we’ve really done all we can," Musk said. "I think that I can say with confidence that we’ve left no stone unturned."
SpaceX announces Falcon 1 launch date
Posted: Fri, Nov 18, 2005, 8:13 PM ET (0113 GMT)

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the launch vehicle startup established by entrepreneur Elon Musk, announced Friday that the first launch of its Falcon 1 rocket has been scheduled for Friday. The Falcon 1 will lift off from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands at 4 pm EST (2100 GMT) Friday, November 25, or 9 am local time November 26. The launch window lasts for four hours, and Musk said that would be several additional days available to conduct the launch if the initial launch is scrubbed. The Falcon 1 is carrying Falconsat 2, a small satellite built by the US Air Force Academy to study how space physics phenomena can affect GPS and other communications. Musk has spent about $100 million of his own money establishing the company and developing the Falcon 1, while also planning the development of two larger vehicles, the Falcon 5 and Falcon 9. SpaceX hopes to prove that the Falcon 1, with a list price of $6.7 million a launch, can provide reliable launches for a fraction of the price of
existing vehicles.
SpaceX schedules its maiden rocket launch
Falcon 1 due to carry military satellite to orbit on Nov. 25
By Tariq Malik
Updated: 9:23 p.m. ET Nov. 18, 2005

The private launch firm SpaceX will loft its Falcon 1 rocket on Nov. 25, marking the booster’s maiden flight and hopefully the first of many space shots to come, the company’s chief said Friday.

The Falcon launch vehicle family is designed to provide breakthrough advances in reliability, cost, flight environment and time to launch. The primary design driver is and will remain reliability, as described in more detail below. We recognize that nothing is more important than getting our customer’s spacecraft safely to its intended destination.

Launch Manifest
Below is the upcoming launch manifest. SpaceX has launch complexes at Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg and the Marshall Islands (Kwajalein Atoll), allowing direct launch to any inclination. Through our Kwajalein launch site on Omelek Island, SpaceX is the only US heavy lift provider with an equatorial launch location.
Privately-made Falcon 1 rocket roars on the pad
Posted: May 27, 2005

Rocket-launch newcomer Space Exploration Technologies Corp. today accomplished a critical engine firing at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, a long-awaited event that puts the company much closer to its inaugural blastoff later this summer.
28 May 2005
Falcon: Full launch 'wet' rehearsal completed
Staff report
Santa Maria Times

The makers of a commercial rocket said they successfully completed its test firing Friday morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base, clearing an important hurdle along the path to its first liftoff.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. announced the successful completion of a full launch "wet" dress rehearsal, including pre-liftoff operations and a firing of the Falcon I rocket's engine for five seconds before it shut off at Space Launch Complex-3 West on South Base.

"Today we completed the largest milestone remaining before launch," said Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. "In a few months, we will receive Air Force clearance to fly, and Falcon I will make its maiden voyage."

Musk developed the rocket to provide a low-cost vehicle to carry satellites to space.

Technical problems had interfered with the team's hopes of conducting this test twice earlier this month. But those problems seemed behind the team by Friday.

"The test went off perfectly this morning," said SpaceX spokeswoman Dianne Molina.

The rocket was expected to make a Friday night road trip back to SpaceX facilities in El Segundo to be checked out.

Falcon's first flight is scheduled for this summer.
Falcon rocket rides
slow road toward flight
SpaceX deals with hurdles associated
with engine and environmental rules
By Leonard David
Senior space writer
Updated: 6:05 p.m. ET Aug. 19, 2004

LOGAN, Utah - Time is drawing closer for the maiden liftoff of the privately financed Falcon 1 launch vehicle, built by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. of El Segundo, Calif.

But the march to the launch pad has not been easy. The launch company, also known as SpaceX, has encountered engine troubles, supplier problems, mounds of regulatory paperwork and other costly woes requiring far more money to be spent than initially projected.

The SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket is headed for a September delivery to Launch Complex 3 West at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Once in position, the launcher will undergo an on-the-pad firing of its main engine, leading to a potential first flight toward the end of November.
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Good day.
NASA Science always has interesting material and this was posted yesterday.
- LRK -
NASA Science News for November 9, 2005
How do you put troublesome moondust to good use? Simple. All it takes is a lunar lawn mower.
When the astronauts got back in the Lunar Module they smelled a burning smell like gunpowder. It is thought that the Lunar Regolith with its un-oxidized iron, rusted quickly in the rich oxygen atmosphere in the LM.
- LRK -
Don't Breathe the Moondust
When humans return to the Moon and travel to Mars, they'll have to be careful of what they inhale.
April 22, 2005: This is a true story.
In 1972, Apollo astronaut Harrison Schmitt sniffed the air in his Lunar Module, the Challenger. "[It] smells like gunpowder in here," he said. His commander Gene Cernan agreed. "Oh, it does, doesn't it?"

The two astronauts had just returned from a long moonwalk around the Taurus-Littrow valley, near the Sea of Serenity. Dusty footprints marked their entry into the spaceship. That dust became airborne--and smelly.
MP3 Audio Clip starting at 124:14:09 ( 19 min 55 sec ) 2.26 MB
124:19:39 Schmitt: Again?
124:19:40 Cernan: That one's still safe. And that one's still safe.
124:19:47 Schmitt: Smells like gunpowder, just like the boys said.
124:19:53 Cernan: Oh, it does, doesn't it? (Pause)
[They have just removed their helmet and, as did previous crews, notice that the dust in the air smells like burnt gunpowder. There is enough dust in the air to smell, but not enough to see.]
124:20:00 Cernan: Okay, "Descent Water valve, Open." Ohh, boy! I ran out of water out there. I mean the drinking kind. (Pause)
What will the stories be like on the next Lunar Missions?
- LRK -

Larry Kellogg
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November 9, 2005: "If you can't lick 'em, join 'em," goes a cliché that essentially means "figure out how to live with whatever you can't get rid of."

That may be superb advice for living and working on the moon.

Scientists and engineers figuring out how to return astronauts to the moon, set up habitats, and mine lunar soil to produce anything from building materials to rocket fuels have been scratching their heads over what to do about moondust. It's everywhere! The powdery grit gets into everything, jamming seals and abrading spacesuit fabric. It also readily picks up electrostatic charge, so it floats or levitates off the lunar surface and sticks to faceplates and camera lenses. It might even be toxic.

So what do you do with all this troublesome dust? Larry Taylor, Distinguished Professor of Planetary Sciences at the University of Tennessee has an idea: Don't try to get rid of it--melt it into something useful!
more info - 37 page 3.88 meg, pdf file of presentation by Larry Taylor -
Lunar Knowledge Requirements for Human Exploration
March 1-3, 2004
Workshop Agenda
Final Report by G. Jeffrey Taylor and Stephen Mackwell
24 March 2004
28 page, 150 KB, pdf file.
Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space IV
American Society of Civil Engineers, pp. 1220-1229, 1994
Carlton C. Allen, John C. Graf, and David S. McKay
Sintering of full-scale "bricks" from lunar soil simulant materials can be accomplished by radiant heating to 1100¡C for approximately 2 hours, followed by slow cooling. Small-scale precompaction and the use of a thermally insulating mold are critical for producing strong, crack-free products. Sintering can also be accomplished using a combination of microwave and radiant heating, though the technique is extremely sensitive to thermal profile and configuration. Sintering in hydrogen is synergistic with oxygen production and yields samples containing enough iron metal to permit handling by a magnet.


Hybrid Microwave Sintering

The sintering of geological samples by microwave heating was initially investigated by Meek et al. (1985). We have run a series of investigations into the sintering of crushed MLS-1 basalt in a laboratory microwave furnace. The CEM MDS-81 furnace operates at a frequency of 2.45 GHz and delivers approximately 600 W of microwave energy to the sample. The furnace utilizes an inner chamber of refractory brick, which protects the stainless steel inner walls from overheating. Sample temperatures were approximately monitored by a thermocouple placed in a grounded steel housing immediately below the sample mold.

Each sample of crushed MLS-1 basalt was placed in a cylindrical graphite mold 3.6 cm in diameter by 3.2 cm high. The powder was hand tamped to achieve a porosity of approximately 30%. The mold was capped with a graphite lid 0.26 cm thick. All heating was done in air. However, the graphite mold served as an oxygen "getter," somewhat reducing the effective oxygen fugacity of the sample.

Controlled, even sintering of rock powder by direct microwave heating proved impossible, due to the combined effects of thermal runaway (Kenkre et al., 1991) and self-insulation. The microwave coupling efficiencies of the minerals in MLS-1 rise dramatically with sample temperature. As a result initial heating is slow, but becomes increasingly rapid at temperatures
above approximately 400¡C. Microwaves penetrate the sample, and heating occurs throughout its volume. However, the center is well insulated by surrounding material, and heats faster than the outside. Typically, our samples sintered strongly or melted in the centers but remained unsintered on the edges.

To achieve uniform sintering we developed a hybrid heating technique, combining microwave and radiant heating. We surrounded the sample crucible with seven silicon carbide blocks, measuring 7.6 x 1.0 x 1.8 cm, in a "picket fence" arrangement (Figure 1). The silicon carbide converted part of the microwave energy to heat. Our samples were heated at full power for
periods of up to two hours, and then allowed to cool slowly in the mold under reduced microwave power.
Glass and Ceramics
Larry A. Haskin
A variety of glasses and ceramics can be produced from bulk lunar materials or from separated components. Many glassy materials have been described in previous studies (Mackenzie and Claridge 1979, Criswell 1980). They include sintered (heated and pressed) regolith, quenched molten basalt, and transparent glass formed from fused plagioclase. No research has been carried out on lunar material or close simulants, so properties are not known in detail; however, common glass technologies such as molding and spinning seem feasible (fig. 7). Uses of glass include structural applications (bricks, slabs, beams, windows) and specialty applications
(fiber strengtheners, insulation, heat shields, cables, light pipes). See figures 8 and 9.
Thanks for looking up with me.
- LRK -
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