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

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The first Moon race kicked off 50 years ago - Sunday

Larry Klaes sent a clip of an e-mail from Jim Oberg that had an e-mail
from Sven Grahn that reminded us of the first Pioneer Spacecraft that
attempted to go to the Moon.
Google pointed to the Astronautix listing, see here and below, and Sven
has a website that has a lot of information. See some below as well.

>Sent: Friday, August 15, 2008 11:25 AM
>Subject: [FPSPACE] The first Moon race kicked off 50 years ago - Sunday

> On August 17, 1958, the USAF launched the first Moon probe on a
> rocket. It did not get far- exploded after 77 seconds. But this launch
> kicked of the first race to the Moon, the unpiloted version. It
> culminated a little more than a year later with Luna-2 hitting the Moon
> and Luna-3 taking pictures of the hidden side.
> Sven
> Sven Grahn

Those first attempts were not all that successful but finally we got it
right but not until after Russia had their success and even got pictures
of the far side of the Moon.
Races can be like that, sometimes you win by a fingertip
- LRK -

/Program/: Pioneer. /Objective/: Planetary. /Type/: Lunar. /Overview/:
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pioneer series were the first US probes
sent towards the moon. Later Pioneers explored the heliocentric space
environment and were the first spacecraft to reach the outer planets and
to escape from the solar system.

*1958 August 17 - * *Pioneer (1). * /Spacecraft/: Pioneer 0-1-2
<>. /Mass/: 38 kg (83 lb).
/Launch Site/: Cape Canaveral
<>. /Launch Vehicle/: Delta

I didn't get a chance to work with NASA at Ames until 1983 and Pioneers
6, 7, 8, 9, 10 ,11, and 12 were already flying around the Sun, on their
way out of the Solar System and flying around Venus. The early Pioneers
to the Moon were history.
- LRK -

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:
/Program/: Pioneer. /Objective/: Planetary. /Type/: Lunar. /Overview/:
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pioneer series were the first US probes
sent towards the moon. Later Pioneers explored the heliocentric space
environment and were the first spacecraft to reach the outer planets and
to escape from the solar system.

Major Events:
* 1958 August 17 - Pioneer (1). Spacecraft: Pioneer 0-1-2. Mass: 38
kg (83 lb). Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Vehicle: Delta.
First US lunar attempt. The first US Air Force lunar probe, using
a Thor-Able booster. An explosion ripped it apart 77 seconds after launch.
* 1958 October 11 - Pioneer 1. Spacecraft: Pioneer 0-1-2. Mass: 38
kg (83 lb). Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Vehicle: Delta.
Set distance record; failed to reach moon.
* 1958 November 8 - Pioneer 2. Spacecraft: Pioneer 0-1-2. Mass: 39
kg (85 lb). Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Vehicle: Delta.
Pioneer 2 was launched from the Atlantic Missile Range, using a
Thor-Able booster, the Air Force acting as executive agent to NASA. The
86.3-pound instrumented payload, intended as a lunar probe, failed to
reach escape velocity.
* 1958 December 6 - Pioneer 3. Spacecraft: Pioneer 3-4. Mass: 6.00
kg (13.20 lb). Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Vehicle: Jupiter.
Failed to reach moon; provided radiation data. Pioneer III, the
third U.S.-IGY intended lunar probe under the direction of NASA with the
Army acting as executive agent, was launched from the Atlantic Missile
Range by a Juno II rocket. The primary objective, to place the 12.95
pound scientific payload in the vicinity of the moon, failed. Pioneer
III reached an altitude of approximately 70,000 miles and revealed that
the earth's radiation belt comprised at least two distinct bands.
* 1959 March 3 - Pioneer 4. Spacecraft: Pioneer 3-4. Mass: 6.00 kg
(13.20 lb). Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Vehicle: Jupiter.
The fourth U.S.-IGY lunar probe effort, Pioneer IV, a joint
project of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and Jet Propulsion
Laboratory under the direction of NASA, was launched by a Juno II rocket
from the Atlantic Missile Range. Intended to impact on the lunar
surface, Pioneer IV achieved earth-moon trajectory, passing within
60,200 km of the moon before going into permanent orbit around the sun.
* 1959 September 24 - Atlas C Able explodes on pad during static
test.. Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.

Mission profiles of early U.S. lunar probes /
Sven Grahn/

At the end of 1957 and early months of 1958 many persons and
organizations in the U.S.A. were jockeying for positions to get the task
of answering the "Sputnik challenge". The pressure from politicians in
the U.S. executive branch and in Congress on those responsible for
missiles and space development to quickly come up with significant space
exploits was intense. The Air Force Ballistic Missile Division in Los
Angeles (with the Space Technology Laboratories as their engineering
organization) under Brigadier General Bernard Schriever was one
organization that thought it had the necessary know-how and clout to do
the job. The same was true for the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency
under General Medaris and with Wernher von Braun in charge of its
engineering organisation in Huntsville, Alabama.

Thus, the White House announced on 27 March 1958 that it had approved a
program "to determine our capability of exploring space in the vicinity
of the moon and to obtain useful data concerning the moon". The program
was announced by Defense Secretary Neil H McElroy. The Air Force
Ballistic Missile Division in Los Angeles was assigned a program of
three lunar probes using a "Thor-Vanguard" system with "a third stage to
be developed". The Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Alabama
was authorized to "undertake one and possibly two lunar probes" using
modified Jupiter-C rockets. Overall responsibility for the lunar probe
launches was assigned to the Defense Department's Advanced Research
Projects Agency (ARPA).

The Air Force project had its roots in the "Able project" which was
probably designed to provide a rocket that could test re-entry vehicle
(RV) technology for the ICBM that had not yet been flown successfully.
To achieve the speeds necessary to test a reasonably sized RV the USAF
and its contractor the Space Technology Labs used a Thor IRBM with the
second stage of the Vanguard as the upper stage (see picture on the
right of second stages being prepared). This combination was test flown
three times in 1958, the first time less than a month after the White
House announcement and the last less than a month before the first
lunar probe attempt. (Launch dates for the Thor-Able 0 rocket are: 23
April, 9 July and 23 July 1958).

When NASA was formed in October of 1958, all military space research
projects run by the military organisations were transferred to it. This
included the four remaining flights in McElroy's (ARPA's) origonal plan
and the follow-on space probes planned by the USAF. This plan included a
plan to launch two probes (weighing 169 kg) to Venus in the launch
window opening in June 1959 followed by a lunar orbit mission. However,
after the Soviet success with Luna 1 the plans were changed to instead
launch the follow-on provbes to lunar orbit in the hope of beating the
Soviet Union to this goal. This follow-on Pioneer program used the
Atlas-Able rocket and even before the first flight the goal of
photographing the far side of the Moon was snatched by the Soviet union.
Howevber, the first probe did carry a camera - it was too late to change
the plans. howveer, the two following oprobes did not carry a camera,
but instead more radiation monitoring instruments. However, the goal of
achieving lunar orbit before the Soviet union could still be achieved.
Chronology of Lunar and Planetary Exploration (1957-1964)

Mission Timeline

* * *| *1957*
|-- Sputnik 1
<> - 4
October 1957 - Earth Orbiter
|-- Sputnik 2
<> - 3
November 1957 - Earth Orbiter
|-- Vanguard TV3
<> - 6
December 1957 - Attempted Earth Orbiter (Launch Failure)
| *1958*
|-- Explorer 1
<> - 1
February 1958 - Earth Orbiter
|-- Vanguard 1
<> - 17
March 1958 - Earth Orbiter
|-- Pioneer 0
<> - 17 August
1958 - Attempted Lunar Orbit (Launch Failure)
|-- Luna 1958A
<> - 23
September 1958 - Attempted Lunar Impact? (Launch Failure)
|-- Pioneer 1
<> - 11
October 1958 - Attempted Lunar Orbit (Launch Failure)
|-- Luna 1958B
<> - 12
October 1958 - Attempted Lunar Impact? (Launch Failure)
|-- Pioneer 2
<> - 8
November 1958 - Attempted Lunar Orbit (Launch Failure)
|-- Luna 1958C
<> - 4
December 1958 - Attempted Lunar Impact? (Launch Failure)
|-- Pioneer 3
<> - 6
December 1958 - Attempted Lunar Flyby (Launch Failure)
| *1959**
Pioneers (1958-2003)


Almost everyone has heard of Pioneer 10 and 11, the two spacecraft that
were the first to visit the outer solar system. But very few people have
ever known that there were earlier and later Pioneer craft that visited
the inner solar system. There were over a dozen Pioneer missions, and
they helped scientists to learn more about spacecraft operations and the
environments of interplanetary space.

The Terran and Lunar Pioneers

Pioneer 0

* Also called Thor-Able 1, Able 1
* Launched August 17, 1958 at 12:18:00 UTC
* Orbital mass: 38.1 kg

This spacecraft was the first U.S. attempt at a lunar mission. The
Pioneer 0 probe was designed to go into orbit around the moon and
carried a TV camera and other instruments as part of the first
International Geophysical Year (IGY) science payload. The spacecraft was
destroyed by an explosion of the first (Thor booster) stage 77 seconds
after launch at 16 km altitude, 16 km downrange over the Atlantic.
Failure was suspected to be due to a ruptured fuel or oxygen line.
Erratic telemetry signals were received from the payload and upper
stages for 123 seconds after the explosion, and the upper stages were
tracked to impact in the ocean.




Tuesday, August 12, 2008

NASA plans LunarSIM game by 2011

By Rob Coppinger on August 12, 2008 1:45 PM
NASA had been planning to create its own massively multi-player online
game but its Glenn Research Center's Educational Programs Office has
decided to enter the games arena with a request for proposals for a
$200,000 contract to develop an interactive educational lunar base
design and exploration simulation

The above blog has some interesting links and information.
Maybe our game playing grandson will find something of interest in
what comes of this.
Would be nice to have kids get interested in setting up a lunar base
and maybe doing it through an on-line game would help.

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:
Synopsis - Jan 16, 2008

General Information
Solicitation Number: MMORFI
Posted Date: Jan 16, 2008
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Jan 16, 2008
Original Response Date: Feb 15, 2008
Current Response Date: Feb 15, 2008
Classification Code: D -- Information technology services, incl.
telecom services
NAICS Code: 541511 - Custom Computer Programming Services
Contracting Office Address NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 210,
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Description NASA Learning Technologies Request for Information:
Development of a NASA-based Massively Multiplayer Online Learning Game


The NASA Learning Technologies (LT) Project Office supports projects
that deliver NASA relevant content through innovative applications of
technologies to enhance education in the areas of Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Research and development in each
of the STEM areas are at the core of the LT mission. LT seeks to
enhance formal and informal education in STEM fields with the goal of
increasing the number of students in those fields of study. The LT is
currently evaluating the development of a NASA-based massively
multiplayer online educational game (MMO).


Persistent immersive synthetic environments in the form of massive
multiplayer online gaming and social virtual worlds, initially
popularized as gaming and social settings, are now finding growing
interest as education and training venues. There is increasing
recognition that these synthetic environments can serve as powerful
"hands-on" tools for teaching a range of complex subjects, including
STEM-based instruction. Virtual worlds with scientifically accurate
simulations could permit learners to tinker with chemical reactions in
living cells, practice operating and repairing expensive equipment,
and experience microgravity – making it easier to grasp complex
concepts and quickly transfer this understanding to practical
problems. MMOs help players develop and exercise a skill set closely
matching the thinking, planning, learning, and technical skills
increasingly in demand by employers today. These skills include
strategic thinking, interpretative analysis, problem solving, plan
formulation and execution, team-building and collaboration, and
adaptation to rapid change.

The power of games as educational tools is rapidly gaining
recognition. NASA is in a position to develop an online game that
functions as a persistent, synthetic environment supporting education
as a laboratory, a massive visualization tool, and collaborative
workspace while simultaneously drawing users into a challenging,
game-play experience.

Objective for Request for Information

A NASA-based MMO built on a game engine that includes powerful physics
capabilities could support accurate in-game experimentation and
research. It should simulate real NASA engineering and science
missions in a medium that is comfortable and familiar to the majority
of students in the United States today. A NASA-based MMO could provide
opportunities for students to investigate STEM career paths while
participating in engaging game-play. Through a NASA-based MMO,
students will gain insight into a wide range of exciting career
opportunities and be encouraged to make educational choices that lead
them into STEM fields of study and eventually the STEM careers needed
to fulfill NASA's Vision for Space Exploration. Learning Technologies
is seeking input on how to accomplish those goals.


NASA Constellation Program Modeling and Simulation

File Format: Microsoft Powerpoint - View as HTML
Constellation Leverages Unique Skills and Capabilities Throughout NASA
and the Aerospace ... that enables the integration into program-level
models and sims ...

NASA employs video game company for Constellation
By Rob Coppinger on February 25, 2008 2:06 PM

Last week Maryland based-computer game company Vision Videogames began
work under a contract with NASA for a 3D visualisation software
package for the US space agency's Constellation programme.

Called SIMConstellation, its graphical elements showing 3D Ares
rockets and the Orion crew exploration vehicle and Altair lunar lander
will incorporate engineering and performance data. This will enable
NASA engineers to literally see trade space studies change effects to
the vehicles and missions' parameters.

SimCEV | Overview

In the fall of 2005, Vision Systems was contracted by NASA to create
the first interactive simulation of the proposed Crew Exploration
Vehicle, CEV (now Orion).

The resulting software, SimCEV, is based on the multi faceted
Renderware based SpaceStationSim simulation engine and simulates both
the Orion vehicle and the Lunar Surface Access Module (LSAM) in
flight, along with an interactive, partially autonomous crew. SimCEV
is demonstration level software, currently able to interact with NASA
Strider fault detection software, and eventually able to visualize
high fidelity NASA simulation engines like SimStation.

In its current form, SimCEV simulates life support, interior ergonomic
design, astronaut interaction, supply needs, and flight configuration.

SimCEV is designed to eventually be a collaborative systems
engineering and integration platform, capable of running on server
based networks, allowing multiple inputs from individuals miles apart,
similar to massive multiplayer online gaming systems (MMOG).

Space Simulators
Like being there...

A space simulator can be as simple as a spacecraft simulation program
running on your PC or as elaborate as a detailed, full scale hardware
simulation of a shuttle cockpit.

Or perhaps it's a large scale group simulation carried out over the
internet in which the participants play different roles, e.g. mission
controllers or astronauts, in carrying out a mission scenario such as
launching a satellite from the shuttle.

This section provides links and descriptions of all sorts of web
resources related to both software and hardware space simulations.




Monday, August 11, 2008

A Flash of Insight: LCROSS Mission Update - 08.11.2008


*August 11, 2008:* There are places on the Moon where the sun hasn't
shined for millions of years. Dark polar craters too deep for sunlight
to penetrate are /luna incognita/, the realm of the unknown, and in
their inky depths, researchers believe, may lie a treasure of great value.

NASA is about to light one up.

This will an interesting experiment.
I hope they are more successful than our crashing Lunar Prospector into
a crater at the Lunar South Pole.
- LRK -


*September 3, 1999*: On July 31, 1999, NASA's Lunar Prospector
spacecraft dived into a permanently shadowed crater near the Moon's
south pole. Scientists hoped that the crash might liberate up to 40 lb
of water vapor along with a plume of dusty impact debris, proving once
and for all that water exists on the moon. Hundreds of amateur and
professional astronomers watched for signs of the impact using
everything from home-built telescopes to the world's most powerful
observatories. The chances of seeing a cloud of dust kicked up by the
crash were slim and, true to expectations, no one saw or photographed
clear evidence of a dust plume.


If at first you don't succeed, try again, with a bit more technology. :-)
- LRK -

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:
NASA Science News for August 11, 2008

Today's story from Science@NASA tells of NASA's plans to find water on
the Moon by crashing a spacecraft into the lunar surface. The Lunar
CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS for short) is on track
for a 2009 launch and subsequent plunge into a crater near one of the
Moon's poles. Amateur astronomers may be able to observe the impact
through backyard telescopes.


Check out our RSS feed at!

*Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS)*

The Mission Objectives <> of the
Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) include
confirming the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently
shadowed crater at the Moon�s South Pole. The identification of water is
very important to the future of human activities on the Moon. LCROSS
will excavate the permanently dark floor of one of the Moon�s polar
craters with two heavy impactors early in 2009 to test the theory that
ancient ice lies buried there. The impact will eject material from the
crater�s surface to create a plume that specialized instruments will be
able to analyze for the presence of water (ice and vapor), hydrocarbons
and hydrated materials.

LCROSS will also provide technologies and modular, reconfigurable
subsystems that can be used to support future mission architectures.




Moon and Mars - Videos