Wednesday, November 24, 2004
No Champagne/Soyuz to the Moon
3:35 pm est
have questioned the lack of celebration post NASA budget victory. I have a couple thoughts.
1. It's the first of approximately 30 such victories required. A big deal to be sure, but the 1st lap of a very long race.
2. Gloating over a victory is a sure way to make you a bigger target next year. Of course, gloating in general can make
one more of a target by anyone.
3. (This one I read rather than came up with on my own) People are tired, with upcoming holidays.
Looks like Soyuz to the Moon is getting some traction. Jim Oberg has an overview of the proposal here
. It ends with a discussion of what would happen if someone else just takes their idea and starts running with it. Their
response? They're applying for a patent. While I'm all for protection of invetor's rights, I'd rather see things
happen than protect any rights I'd have related to them. (I'm not claiming I'm the originator of the idea, but I think I
put some new twists on the plan)
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
9:07 pm est
was passed, at nearly the levels requested by The President.
Also, the space tourism bill
may still fly. The House has approved it, but the Senate didn't have time. Luckily, they're meeting again in early December
and may take it on then.
Part of me really wants to know what factors come into play that make some congressional measures keep going, long after news
reports come forward saying that they're likely dead. Of course, it's probably like any other organization where a couple
people (or just one) who's really determined can make it happen. Anyway, that's why space tourism still has a shot. Of course,
it's also why the current budget, as passed (and is soon to be changed) allows Congresspeople to view tax forms.
Jeff Foust has a good article about some fallout
post NASA budget passage.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Private Spaceflight Legislation Dies, Old School Lives on
9:48 pm est
Apparently, the good news yesterday on HR 3752 was premature
However, NASA did award 70 contracts
with a value of up to $1B by 2009 supporting the Vision for Space Exploration. Note the lack of project names and areas
they support in the pdf file.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Congress Brief, Really Fast Airplane, SMART-1
9:00 pm est
Jeff Foust has some intel on HR 3752
that he picked up at Peter Diamandis' (X-Prize
, Zero-G Corp
) talk in DC today. HR 3752 has the potential to clear the way for passenger spaceflight, although there's been talk of some
causing problems. No word whether the version possibly coming to vote has said problems.
Looks like the Mach 10
barrier's been broken by a Scramjet engine off the coast of CA. I'm sure it will be toted as having potential of decreasing
costs of flights to orbit, which it does, but only if flight rates increase. Of course, increased flight rates would make
any method into orbit less expensive.
Of course, let's not forget the Ion engine
that could. Good on the Europeans for getting to lunar orbit. Ion propulsion has some limited usefullness in small payloads,
but I differ in opinion if anyone says that they're some sort of cure-all for spaceflight issues.
Sunday, November 14, 2004
CEV Contractor Talk
1:31 pm est
(Recommended pre-read of NASA's Exploration Contracts
or a summary at The Space Review
There's a UPI article here
describing the impact of the Boeing/Northrop statement that they'll co-develop the CEV.
I suppose one possibility is t/Space as a lead integrator with a Lock-Mart or Boeing as a subcontractor. The lead integrator
concept is a major recommendation of The Aldridge Commission
(page down to "President's Commission.") The big guys would chafe under the insult, but at least they'd be part of the action.
Unfortunately, I don't think such an arrangement would work, because of all the NASA-industrial momentum there.
For instance, I don't think Lockheed Martin or Boeing (even combined with Northrop-Grumman) could have built SpaceShipOne
for the advertised cost of ~$25M.
Although, the DC-X
was built by McDonnel-Douglas, now a subsidiary of Boeing. It was built on a relative shoestring ($60M), and flew a few
times (11) before disaster befell it. Note, however, that it didn't travel at supersonic speeds, and wasn't even crewed,
which in government space circles brings about a whole round of cost increases.
Friday, November 12, 2004
10:06 pm est
According to Spacepolitics
, this bill, HR 5336
, was introduced in the House just before the election. The bill creates the National Endowment for Space and Aeronautics
(NESA). As Jeff says, the bill has a slim chance of going anywhere in this congress (due to end in the next weeks), but it
may come back next year.
The language allows gifts to be given to the endowment by the public, and requies the President to pick a chairperson of the
endowment for a four-year term. It also mentions the $100M orbital prize described as "The Glenn Prize" at NASA's Centennial
Challenge conference. It goes as far as describing orbital parameters and passenger requirements.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Same Story, Different Headline
8:15 pm est
MSNBC and Space.com are apparently sharing articles, but not headlines.
Compare "Mining the Moon, Gateway to Mars"
to "Mining on Mars seen as key to exploration"
. Is this a difference in editorial opinion?
Update on 12 November: By the by, in my opinion, landing on the moon before (or as a "refueling pit stop" leading to) Mars
would be much more a symbolic effort than a practical one.
Tuesday, November 9, 2004
9:38 pm est
updated their article on America's Space Prize rules. The item listed as seven in my previous post moved to ten, with the
following added to 7:
The contestant must be domiciled in the United States of America.
Mars Needs Recipes
The Mars Homestead Project
9:35 pm est
is putting together a recipe book, and they're looking for Mars-themed submissions. Submission deadline is the 1st of December.
More info is supposed to be on the website, though I don't see any there right now. Mail entries to Recipes@MarsHome.org
Monday, November 8, 2004
America's Space Prize Rules
6:46 pm est
Robert Bigelow announced the rules for America's Space Prize today through Space.com
, which has more details about follow-ons and the like. This is a quick summary of the basic rules, along with my thoughts.
I may provide more detailed comments later. I removed typos from the list as posted by Space.com, and may have inserted
some of my own. Prospective contestants are encouraged to contact Bigelow Aerospace
for more details.
The rules as listed in the space.com article:
1. The spacecraft must reach a minium altitude of 400km (about 250 miles)
- Based on later rules, this is likely an apogee, although a circular orbit would be the likely destination. One thing
not mentioned is orbital inclination, which can have a much larger impact on payload capability, and can radically change
the radiation environment a craft and crew are exposed to.
2. The spacecraft must reach a minimum velocity sufficient to complete two (2) full orbits at altitude before returning to
- This prevents an "up and down" mission from reaching the altitude without the necessary orbital speed.
3. The spacecraft must carry no less than a crew of five (5) people
4. The spacecraft must dock or demonstrate its ability to dock with a Bigelow Aerospace inflatable space habitat, and be
capable of remaining on station at least six (6) months.
- This requires a quiescent mode where no volatiles are expended. The shuttle is limited in this capability because of
its use of fuel cells for primary power. Batteries and solar cells are the primary alternatives today.
5. The spacecraft must perform two (2) consecutive, save and successful orbital missions within a period of sixty (60) calendar
days, subject to Government regulations.
- The last four words, though necessary, scare me.
6. No more than twenty percent (20%) of the spacecraft may be composed of expendable hardware.
- No specification as to whether this is in term of number of parts or mass. If mass, I assume that the reference is
to dry mass, and doesn't include expended fuel. Also, there is no differentiation between the spacecraft and the booster.
7. The spacecraft must complete its two (2) missions safely and successfully, with all five (5) crew members aboard for the
second qualifying flight, before the competition's deadline of January 10, 2010.
- This has the potential of being a tough one. Although flights taking place before the competition flights are not ruled
out, those test missions could cost a lot of money. Also, unless some reason could be developed that came up with a role
for all 5 people flying on the craft, some subset would be considered "passengers" instead of "crew", a potentially important
8. The contestant must have its principal place of business in the United States of America.
- No ITAR problems here!
9. The competitor must not accept or utilize government developed funding related to this contest of any kind, nor shall
there be any government ownership of the competitor. Using government test facilities shall be permitted.
- This one has some interesting implications. While competitors don't have to deal with difficult contracting situations,
what if some reformed space agency offered a similar prize? What if said agency doesn't offer a prize, but is interested
in putting people on board the winning craft?
10. (This rule, as listed in the Space.com article when I printed it out, was a repeat of rule 7)
I'll be curious to see the full package that Bigelow provides. One item not discussed is interfacing with the inflatable
space habitats. Such a docking, especially one requiring a craft to "shut down" for six months, keeps engineers in traditional
aerospace efforts busy for years.
Sunday, November 7, 2004
More Power, More Power
11:04 am est
I'd read about this
, but the space press is picking it up now. I've seen a similar effect when a satellite fires thrusters along it's solar
arrays. The big question is whether there was one increase in power or a rise over a period of time.
Thursday, November 4, 2004
9:15 pm est
Kicking things off in preparation for my upcoming The Space Review
essay on von Braun this Monday. Take a look around, and let me know what you think.