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

Sunday, August 16, 2009

NASA's future gets bleaker: Obama faced with manned-space dilemma

By Mark K. Matthews and Robert Block Sentinel Staff Writers
5:54 p.m. EDT, August 14, 2009
Orlando Sentinel
President must decide to either find more money for manned space or support an emasculated program that critics will dismiss as irrelevant

WASHINGTON - When President Barack Obama named a panel to review NASA's manned-space program, his aides said privately they were hoping the group would recommend scrapping NASA's troubled Ares I rocket program and finding another, cheaper way to get humans back to the moon.

But the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee came to a troubling conclusion this week: NASA's current budget offers no hope of sending humans past the international space station for 20 years or more.

And that confronts the administration with an enormous dilemma: how, in an era of trillion-dollar deficits, to find money to reinvigorate human space exploration and avoid pulling the plug on a program that just celebrated the 40th anniversary of its first lunar landing.


I am afraid that by the time it is decided that we should catch up with others going to the Moon, it will be too late for me to see it happen.

Hope you have the genes for a long life.
- LRK -

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:
[link may not work as it comes up with my gmail account - LRK -]
August 17, 2009

Get Daily SPACErePORT Updates HERE.

Space Panel Finds No Good Options (Source: Aviation Week)
With 18 days left in which to finish its work, the Augustine Panel is focusing on several options ranging from maintaining NASA's current plans to deferring lunar exploration in favor of direct visits to Mars and other deep space locations. NASA's current program of record -- retiring the shuttle and closing down the Space Station by 2016, developing the Ares I/Orion system as a shuttle replacement, and mounting a lunar return by 2020 -- simply doesn't fit within the FY '10 guidance, Sally Ride said. "There was not enough money to even start the lunar systems," she said.

However, the "less constrained" option, which ramps up to $3 billion a year more than the FY-10 plan, allows a lunar return by 2025. This budget, Ride said, is fairly close to what NASA's original exploration planners assumed they would have for the Constellation program several years ago. Also considered was an "ISS-focused" option that would extend station operations to 2020 but essentially sacrifice near-term exploration development in order to stay within the FY-10 plan. While a heavy-lift launcher system would be available in 2028 under this option, it would have nothing to lift, as no money would have been spent on lunar surface systems. More promising were the so-called "Deep Space" options, which would defer lunar exploration in the
near-term in favor of trips to other locations in the solar system.

Editor's Note: I have attempted to describe the various scenarios in a chart posted here. (8/13)

Augustine Panel Narrows NASA Options (Source: Florida Today)
NASA's Project Constellation cannot be executed within the $81.5 billion budgeted for human spaceflight through 2020 -- a $26.5 billion drop from previous projections -- so the Augustine Panel will bring it forward only as a reference mission. Missions to Mars -- while an ultimate goal -- will not be among scenarios offered up. The idea of doing a "Dash Out Of LEO (Low Earth Orbit) is also being dropped. It appears the Ares I rocket will be on the chopping block, while the
panel supports increasing investment in the development of commercial crew transportation services.

August 17 News Items
Iran Launches Home-Built Satellite Rocket (Source: AFP)
Iran said it had launched a rocket carrying a test-satellite into space on Sunday, in a move that could further exacerbate tensions with the West over its nuclear drive. "The Safir (Ambassador) rocket was successfully launched. All its systems...are Iranian made," Reza Taghipour, head of Iran's space agency, said, adding that a "test satellite was put into orbit." Western governments, which suspect Iran is trying to build an atomic weapon, have voiced concern that the Islamic republic's space program could be put to military use. (8/17)

Obama: Let's Go to Moon, and Maybe Mars (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Sen. Barack Obama released a comprehensive space policy Saturday that endorsed sending astronauts back to the moon by 2020 as a possible precursor for going to Mars -- the first time he has committed to that goal -- and said the reach for the stars should be a U.S.-led international effort. "Human exploration beyond low-earth orbit should be a long-term goal and investment for all space-faring countries, with America in the lead," the policy paper said. It was notably silent on what role might be played by Kennedy Space Center, which faces the loss of as many as 6,500 jobs when the shuttle stops flying. Obama did promise to "work with the space industry to ensure retention of workforce and technical capabilities" during the gap. Obama's campaign released the seven-page paper to four Florida newspapers Saturday, 24 hours ahead of its national unveiling. It showed a clear effort to seize the initiative on space policy in Florida from his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, who is scheduled to meet privately with aerospace industry officials in Cocoa on Monday. (8/17)


Obama Campaign Releases Space Policy Plan (Source: Obama Campaign)
Following a series of meetings with space industry leaders, the Obama campaign has finalized a space policy document titled: Advancing the Frontiers of Space Exploration. The document contains sections dealing with Space Science and Exploration; Earth-Oriented Research; Promoting International Cooperation and Keeping Space Secure; Developing New Technologies; and Educating the Public. The document is posted at

NASA's moon plan too ambitious, Obama panel says
A panel reviewing NASA's current plans for human space flight will report that there is no realistic way to return to the moon by 2020 -- or even 2028.

Washington Post Service

WASHINGTON -- NASA doesn't have nearly enough money to meet its goal of putting astronauts back on the moon by 2020 -- and it might be the wrong place to go, anyway. That's one of the harsh messages emerging from a sweeping review of NASA's human space flight program.

The Human Space Flight Plans Committee, appointed by President Barack Obama and headed by retired aerospace executive Norman Augustine, has been trying to stitch together some kind of plausible strategy for America's manned space program. The panel has struggled to find options that stay under the current budget and include missions worthy of the cost and effort.

A Moon Full of Opportunity

NASA gave six reasons for going back to the Moon when only one was needed
Paul D. Spudis

The 2nd Space Exploration Conference held December 2006 in Houston outlined several reasons for a human return to the Moon. Remarkably, some complain that the reason for going to the Moon is still unclear. Possibly the sheer scope of the envisioned surface activities diffuses its impact. Almost 200 activities were described for the Moon, grouped under six major “themes” (as the agency calls them), including settlement, global cooperation, science and preparation for Mars.

This diffusion is both deliberate and unavoidable.

From the beginning, there was dissention within NASA and the broader space community about the meaning of the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE). Was it a call for a permanent moon base? Was it all about sending humans to Mars? Perhaps it was really a stalking horse to terminate human spaceflight completely. The alt-space community whined about it being another big government boondoggle. The Mars Society whined about the focus on the Moon. The scientific community just whined. Much of this confusion stems from preconceived interpretations about the new policy and has been exacerbated by resulting changes to the status quo. This confusion, nurtured by design or misinformation, must be corrected and the Vision’s direction clearly understood.




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