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

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Apollo Model: Stronger than Obama - Something to think about

The comments about the Constellation program just being another Apollo on Steroids, and Been There, Done That, did not set well with some including yours truly.  I had seen the mission as a step for us to settle the Moon and to develop its resources.  I was not thinking about just placing a flag and saying what a good boy am I.  I wasn't thinking in terms of placing a flag on top of the highest mountain, or setting a record of the deepest dive in the ocean, I really felt we needed to show we could live off world or prove to ourselves that planet Earth was going to be the only place we could call home, for eternity.

Obviously not all think that way.  Changing the course of action for a large massive body is not easy and putting a new face on NASA isn't either.  The below article has some ideas that might be of interest.
- LRK -

The Apollo Model: Stronger than Obama
by Taylor Dinerman
August 2, 2010 at 5:00 am

Perhaps the primary goal of the Obama administration's 2011 budget NASA proposal was to kill, once and for all, the Apollo Moon mission model that has determined the way the US space agency operates for nearly the last 60 years.

The so-called compromise proposal that unanimously passed the Senate Commerce Committee on July 15th gutted most of the Obama proposal. The House version does even more damage to the administration's proposal.  While the Bush era Constellation program would seem to be dead, at least in name, its substance has survived for at least another year.  There is a lesson here, not only for those who would reform NASA, but also for those who want to reform any reasonably sized government agency.

The first lesson is: Do not ignore Congress. NASA as it exists is the product of decades of Congressional action. Reformers may believe that they know what the agency needs, but without Congressional support, they have no hope of making a difference; all they can achieve is to demoralize and confuse their workforce.

Second, do not think that a study committee can substitute for in-house policy development. The Augustine Committee included some of the best minds in the US space industry, but it must, in the end, be regarded as a failure. Its conclusions seem to have been based on arbitrary budget assumptions. To many in Congress and elsewhere, its report was pre-cooked and was largely designed to undo the progress made by Mike Griffin towards a return to the Moon.

NASA's relationship with the Moon is the key to understanding its institutional bias. This is not simply due to nostalgia for the glory days of Apollo, but is based on an understanding of the strategic "geography" of the solar system. Our planet's satellite, thanks to its position and its small size, makes it an ideal base from which  to explore the solar system, and, if necessary, to dominate the Earth. It has been described as a "Gibraltar Point" possession, which entails control over access to and from the surface of the Earth to the rest of our celestial neighborhood. Neither the US nor anyone else has plans, at present, to build military bases on the  Moon, but that may change. A US civilian base on the Moon would be a strong deterrent to such a development.

These facts have long been built into the DNA of US space policy.  Abandoning the Constellation Moon plan aroused in the Congress, and in parts of the US space industry, a fear that we were giving up that deterrent in favor of a vague, unfocused set of promises that could later be discarded at little or no political cost. The "Compromise" plans that have come out of the House and Senate are by no means satisfactory, but they give NASA a solid foundation on which to develop a future plan to return to the Moon if a future President or Congress wanted to make that commitment.


Jeff Foust writes about Griffin’s critique of NASA’s new direction at the Thirteenth Annual International Mars Society Convention in Dayton, Ohio.  I have a included a few biased snips.  You should probably read the whole article to get the full picture.
- LRK -

Griffin’s critique of NASA’s new direction
by Jeff Foust
Monday, August 9, 2010

Former NASA administrators are not generally known for being outspoken about space policy after their tenures running the agency. They tend to go on to other pursuits, often outside of space entirely, rarely holding forth on NASA in any public capacity. Sean O’Keefe focused his attention first on running a university, LSU, and more recently as an aerospace executive, emphasizing the “aero” more than the “space”. His predecessor, Dan Goldin, was NASA administrator for nearly a decade but virtually dropped out of sight afterwards, beyond the odd situation in late 2003 when he was selected to become president of Boston University only to have his contract bought out immediately before he was to take office.

Mike Griffin, however, is not content to remain quiet during this period of upheaval in space policy. The  administrator who oversaw the formation and initial development of the Constellation architecture—most notably the Ares 1 rocket and Orion capsule—is clearly not happy to see the White House and even Congress willing to dismantle part or all it in favor of a new approach to human space exploration. Speaking Friday at the Thirteenth Annual International Mars Society Convention in Dayton, Ohio, Griffin made perhaps his strongest criticism yet of the administration’s plans, as well as described what he thinks a space program should do.


Griffin also suggested that the plan didn’t put much thought into the decision to defer a human return to the Moon in favor of a mission to a near Earth asteroid by 2025. The made that choice, he suggested, “apparently without realizing that the delta-V to get to almost all asteroids is higher than the delta-V to get to Mars” with similarly long travel times and limited launch windows. “In a number of ways reaching asteroids can be harder than reaching Mars.”

He was skeptical of the plan’s emphasis on “gamechanging” technologies to enable human space exploration. “Any time I develop a new technology I potentially change someone’s game,” he said. “Without a plan, I don’t know what game, I don’t know if it’s the game I ought to be changing, or if it’s a high-value game or a low-value game, but I’m going to change something, so it’s pretty easy to promise that I’ll do gamechanging technologies.”


Griffin summarized his opinion of the White House plan for NASA in a single sentence: “We’re not going anywhere and we’re going to spend a lot of money doing it.” He referred to a 2007 essay he wrote for Aviation Week  where he concluded that the agency actually received more inflation-adjusted funding in its last 15 years than it did in its first 15. “The US space program has not accomplished as much in its last 15 years as in its first 15 years, given more money,” he said. “So, if you like that, you’ll really like the next decade, in which we do almost nothing and spend just as much.”


Griffin had more specific concerns about relying on commercial providers without any sort of government backup vehicle. One is the worry about the loss of access to space should a commercial provider have an accident. “How does the provider stay in business?” he asked, if the damages created by the accident exceed the value of the company. He also noted that if only a single commercial crew provider emerges, it could charge NASA exorbitant rates since the agency would have nowhere else to turn. “How do we protect ourselves from monopoly pricing?”

One solution he had to those concerns was to continue development of a government human spaceflight system, one that would be a backup if a commercial provider had an accident—or never entered service at all—of and also protect against monopoly pricing if there’s only one provider. “If there’s a government capability, then we’re okay,” he said.


And what is NASA's 2010 budget, something iike $18.6 billion and for 2011 $19 billion.  We are excited about where $6 billion is to be re-distributed.
By Tudor Vieru, Science Editor
July 24th, 2010, 07:24 GMT

 Forget all of that and come back from recess to vote on $26 billion to save jobs.
- LRK -

Pelosi calls on House to return next week to move $26B state aid package
By Russell Berman, Alexander Bolton, and Julian Pecquet - 08/04/10 08:44 PM ET

Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw lawmakers’ summer plans into chaos Wednesday, announcing the House will interrupt its six-week recess and return to Washington next week to act on Medicaid and education funding for states.

Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the news via Twitter, saying, “I will be calling the House back into session early next week to save teachers’ jobs and help seniors & children.”

Pelosi made the decision in consultation with congressional leaders following the Senate’s morning vote to move forward on the $26.1 billion aid package. The Senate is expected to pass the bill Thursday.

A K Street lobbyist said the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) pushed Pelosi to call back the House for the vote. States would have to lay off thousands of teachers if Congress doesn’t approve the money by the end of August. Schools have laid off teachers in significant numbers throughout the year. Senate Democrats fear a delay in state aid could lead to additional firings.

“With an indication the funds are coming, we hope that states and school districts can plan accordingly,” said a Democratic aide.  Pelosi seemed to acknowledge the importance of the education money in her tweet when she wrote the return was “to save teachers’ jobs.”

The House will hold its vote on the package Tuesday.


Space may be the place, then again, the money is controlled by those here on Earth.
- LRK -

Thanks for looking up with me.
- LRK -

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The NEXT STEPS in Exploring Deep Space
Editor Wes Huntress

Notice: The cosmic study or position paper that is the subject of this report was approved by the Board of Trustees of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) in charge of the governing policy. Any opinion, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the International Academy of Astronautics and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsoring or funding organizations. For more information about the International Academy of Astronautics, visit the IAA home pages at and Copyright 2005 by the International Academy of Astronautics. All rights reserved.

The International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) a non governmental organization recognized by the United Nations was founded in 1960.  Since that time, IAA has brought together the world's foremost experts (1216) in the disciplines of astronautics on a regular basis to recognize the accomplishments of their peers, to explore and discuss cuttingedge issues in space research and technology, and to provide direction and guidance in the non-military uses of space and the ongoing exploration of the solar system. The purposes of the IAA, as stated in the Academy's statutes are to foster the development of astronautics for peaceful purposes, to recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves in a branch of science or technology related to astronautics, to provide a program through which the membership can contribute to international endeavors and cooperation in the advancement of aerospace science, in cooperation with national science or engineering academies. Prof. Ed. Stone is president of the International Academy of Astronautics. 
Final Report July 9, 2004

Executive Summary

The purpose of this report is to articulate a vision for the scientific exploration of space in the first half of the 21st Century.  The compelling scientific and cultural imperatives that guide this vision provide the context for a logical, systematic, and evolutionary architecture for human expansion into the solar system. This architecture represents a new approach leading ultimately to human exploration of Mars and a permanent human presence in the solar system.

Within this framework, scientific objectives are used to determine the destinations for human explorers, and each successive destination and new set of capabilities is established as a stepping-stone to further exploration. Robotic missions continue to play a key role in achieving the science objectives and preparing for human exploration. Such an integrated robotic-human exploration program can be safe, cost-effective, exciting, and scientifically rewarding, and thus can have the public appeal and political support that are prerequisites for sustainable long-term human exploration beyond low Earth orbit.

This report was developed on a volunteer basis under the auspices of the International Academy of Astronautics. It is not a strategic implementation plan for any national space program; rather, it represents a vision for the future that can be considered by interested space agencies, hopefully in the context of an international cooperative endeavor. This report provides a sampling of scientific opportunities and exploration options, not a comprehensive plan or a detailed technical blueprint. It is an example of what could be done, not a prescription of what will be done.

Imperatives and Science Goals

NASA and Commercial industry combine to outline FTD Propellant Depot plan
August 5th, 2010 by Chris Bergin

A collaboration between experts at numerous NASA centers and commercial companies have created a plan for an “in-space LO2/LH2 PTSD (Propellant Transfer and Storage Demonstration) mission, to affordably support a 2015 demonstration and follow-on missions”, highlighting an exploration architecture built around existing vehicles and Propellant Depots.

PTSD Flagship Technology Demonstration:

Answering a Request For Information (RFI) in June, a broad range of NASA, other US government, academic and industrial participation resulted in a roadmap to enable a flagship demonstration mission of propellant storage and transfer ability in 2015.

Such a mission would build on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) exploration master plan, which removes the need for a Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (HLV), instead combining the use of current EELV (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) vehicles – such as Atlas V or Delta IV – with an on orbit ability to refuel in space via fuel depots.

ISS On-Orbit Status 08/09/10

All ISS systems continue to function nominally, except those noted previously or below. Underway: Week 10 of Increment 24.


ETCS Loop A Pump Module Update: EVA-16, on 8/11 (Wednesday), is being extensively & thoroughly replanned as a result of the disappointing outcome of EVA-15 which failed to get the nonfunctional ETCS (External Thermal Control System) Loop A PM (Pump Module) out and start work on the new pump. Spacewalkers Wheelock & Caldwell-Dyson ended up short of that, due to a balky and leaky QD (Quick Disconnect, M3) at the old PM (losing about 3 lbs of NH3 in the process). Re-attaching the QD and re-opening the valve stopped the leak. For EVA-16, the plan is to lower Loop A NH3  pressure (from 370 psi to ~200 psi), close two additional QDs (one each at each end of the S1 truss segment) to isolate/minimize the line segment to be vented, and then vent that coolant piping in the zenith direction (NH3 to be lost from the pipe: ~ 15lbs, later from the PM: ~22 lbs, i.e., a total just under 40 lbs of ammonia). M3 should then be “dry” (without pressure), allowing straight-forward valve closing and demating. Next, 5 power/data cables
will have to be removed, followed by four attachment bolts of the PM.  The latter will then be attached to the MBS POA (Mobile Base System Payload ORU Accommodation) via a grapple bar and vented, to be left on
the POA for an extended period of time. Replacing the PM and making all necessary connections will very likely require a third EVA (tentatively on 8/15, Sunday). If at all necessary, a fourth EVA is also possible.




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