Friday, October 30, 2009

New NASA Advisory Council Committees

Bolden Revamps NASA Advisory Council By Debra Werner in Space News

Commercial Space Committee led by Brett Alexander

Information Technology and Associated Infrastructure led by retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Al Edmonds

Public Outreach and Education led by Miles O’Brien

Technology and Innovation led by Esther Dyson

Thursday, October 29, 2009

$10 per kilowatt Hour Market of Space Solar Power

Snagging Free-Range Solar Power in Space Is An Option - Floating solar cells far above Earth and beaming the energy to the grid has shifted from loony to funded. By: Bruce Dorminey in Miller-McCune

In Iraq, for example, electricity is still being generated by costly diesel fuel, at a price of some $10 per kilowatt electric hour. Meanwhile, large numbers of troops have been killed or wounded while protecting convoys transporting that diesel fuel. A fixed forward base equipped with space solar rectennas could save lives, money and might give the war fighters — or even the nation-builders — a competitive advantage.

Ralph Nansen's Inspiring New Book

Energy Crisis: Solution from Space

Presenting a bold solution for global climate change and dependence on oil—and the threat of war over its diminishing supply—this visionary reference explores how developing solar energy could bring about unprecedented economic prosperity and opportunity on a global scale. By using existing technology in revolutionary ways, this new energy plan would have the potential to create jobs and revitalize the economy while offering a clean, affordable, and long-term solution. Asserting that the current generation can develop this innovative energy source to change the world economically, environmentally, and politically for the better, this stunning guide offers an unexpected new hope for the future.

About the Author

Ralph Nansen has been involved with space engineering for more than four decades. He is the founder and president of Solar Space Industries and the former Boeing solar-power satellite program manager. He is the author of Sun Power: The Global Solution for the Coming Energy Crisis. He lives in Lopez Island, Washington.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bring Back NIAC

The Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Board (DEPS)of the National Academy of Sciences call for the re-establishment of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC)

Fostering Visions for the Future: A Review of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts
The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) was formed in 1998 to provide an independent source of advanced aeronautical and space concepts that could dramatically impact how NASA develops and conducts its missions. Until the program's termination in August 2007, NIAC provided an independent open forum, a high-level point of entry to NASA for an external community of innovators, and an external capability for analysis and definition of advanced aeronautics and space concepts to complement the advanced concept activities conducted within NASA. Throughout its 9-year existence, NIAC inspired an atmosphere for innovation that stretched the imagination and encouraged creativity.

As requested by Congress, this volume reviews the effectiveness of NIAC and makes recommendations concerning the importance of such a program to NASA and to the nation as a whole, including the proper role of NASA and the federal government in fostering scientific innovation and creativity and in developing advanced concepts for future systems. Key findings and recommendations include that in order to achieve its mission, NASA must have, and is currently lacking, a mechanism to investigate visionary, far-reaching advanced concepts. Therefore, a NIAC-like entity should be reestablished to fill this gap.

Lava Tubes Could Reduce Cost of Lunar Base

Living in Lunar Lava Tubes by Ian O'Neill in Discovery Space

Ian: Personally, what would you expect the mission profile of a lunar mission would look like if we used natural shelter (such as lava tubes) to protect ourselves from radiation? Do you think this would be a cheaper alternative than building surface habitats?

Carolyn: Lava tubes would not only protect us from radiation, but also from meteoroid impacts and the extreme temperature changes over the lunar day. Near the equator, the lunar night is very cold (about -150 °C), and the lunar day, it is very hot (about 110 °C). A lava tube has a constant temperature, about -20 °C -- just like caves on the Earth have very even temperatures.
Not being an engineer, I'm not sure that I can comment on the costs of surface versus subsurface habs. It does seem to make sense that using a natural, easily accessible shelter would help reduce costs.

More insight into Dr. Nozette

Espionage suspect has friends puzzled from the Washington Post by
Nozette wanted to repeat the experiments with more sophisticated equipment, former colleagues said, and he lobbied lawmakers and officials to give him another chance.

But NASA had another probe, the Lunar Prospector. Nozette and a colleague visited top-ranking NASA officials in hopes of ending the mission and getting the funding for their project, said Alan Binder, the lead scientist on the Prospector.

Binder, who fended off the assault, said he never forgave Nozette. "He wanted the glory," Binder said. "He wanted the mission."

Evidently Dr. Nozette's betrayal started much early. I am appalled that Dr. Nozette tried to get Lunar Prospector canceled. It is so difficult to get interest and funding for lunar projects the last thing we need to do is sabotage each other. Trying to grab the Lunar Prospector funding for himself might very well have meant no lunar probe. If Dr. Nozette had been patient he probably could have gotten funding for a Clementine follow up after Lunar Prospector which I am sure Alan Binder would have supported. Instead he endangered the lunar program and made an enemy of Dr. Binder. I guess Dr. Nozette really had no loyalty except to himself.

More on Dr. Nozette's troubles

USA v. Office of Alliance for Competitive Technology

US v. Nozette

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Asteriod Explosion over Indonisia

Asteroid explosion over Indonesia raises fears about Earth's defences in the

On 8 October, the rock crashed into the atmosphere above South Sulawesi, Indonesia. The blast was heard by monitoring stations 10,000 miles away, according to a report by scientists at the University of Western Ontario.

Scientists are concerned that it was not spotted by any telescopes, and that had it been larger it could have caused a disaster.

The asteroid, estimated to have been around 10 metres (30ft) across, hit the atmosphere at an estimated 45,000mph. The sudden deceleration caused it to heat up rapidly and explode with the force of 50,000 tons of TNT.

Here is a video of it from YouTube

The government is now deciding how much to invest in Near Earth Object(NEO) surveys. The argument against investing heavily in NEO surveys is the statistical chance of being injured or killed by a NEO is very low. This argument overlooks the stress which is induced by different types of risk. Equal levels of risk cause significantly different levels of stress. Risk which is known and the individual has control over causes the least stress. Either lack of knowledge or control significantly rise stress levels. Risks that are unknown and out of control causes the highest levels of stress. The risk of Asteroids and other NEO's is neither known nor controlled, so it induces a high level of stress on the population. This shown through in popular culture with numerous disaster movies featuring large rocks in space colliding with the Earth. I think the stress of the unknown and uncontrollable risk NEO's pose, that a higher level of funding is in order. Beyond the funding level pure statistic alone would dictate.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Intact Lunar Lava Tube Found

In New Scientist there is an exciting article, Found: first 'skylight' on the moon. The article describes the finding of a deep hole which is a skylight of an intact lunar lava tube. Many partially collapsed lunar lava tubes have been identified this is the first intact lunar lava tube.

This is wonderful news. A lunar lava tube is big cave which could be used to shelter a lunar base. This lunar lava tube seems to be at least 80 meters deep and 370 meters across.

Lunar lava tubes have roofs tens of meters thick, are hundreds of meters wide and thought to be kilometers long. So they would offer a base a lot of protection from radiation and meteors. As well as lots of room to expand.

Lunar lava tubes are thought to be temperature stable at -20 Celsius which makes operations much easier than a surface base subject to the drastic lunar temperature swings.

Lunar lava tubes might contain significant quantities of lunar ice, which seems to be suggested by recent data. Since lunar lava tubes are temperature stable any water entering the cave would freeze and stay inside the cave. I noticed this phenomena when I toured the lava tubes in northern California in the summer, the lava tube contained significant quantities of ice.

We need to find more intact lava tubes by using gravity, radar and seismic sounding surveys. As they will provide a safe an secure location for human expansion off of Earth. Mars is believed to have even larger lava tubes than the Moon.

For more information - Caves on the Moon? by Paul Spudis in The Once and Future Moon


NASA Watch has has suggested that I am confused. Unfortunately there are no specifics, so I am not sure on what point Keith Cowings thinks I am confused.

I am not experiencing any confusion.

The Battle Over The Augustine Report Has Begun

Below is a video in support option 4B in the Augustine Commission (extending the use of the shuttle and develop a shuttle derived heavy lift) since it is the only way to eliminate the gap in US manned launch capability. But there are problems with continuing to use the Shuttle and Shuttle Derived technology.

1. Maintaining the workforce equals maintaining high launch costs since those workers have to be paid.

2. Maintaining the workforce maintains the failed paradigm NASA has had for the last several decades.

3. The architecture is unsafe if we continue to fly the shuttle technology we are sentencing 7 more people to die in the next shuttle accident.

4. Continuing to use the shuttle architecture guarantees that we will not develop new launch technology.

Keith Cowing did notice an interesting problem with the video - from NASA Watch Inaccuracies at SaveSpace
this video purports to focus on Augustine Option 4b which talks about shuttle derived launch vehicles. Well, it is actually a propoganda piece for the DIRECT concept - one of two shuttle-derived concepts briefed to the Augustine Committee. At one point John Shannon, an advocate for the other shuttle-derived concept that was thoroughly briefed (yet ignore in this video), the Shuttle Sidemount HLV, is shown talking about a shuttle-derived launch vehicle while DIRECT imagery is shown. At no time is the Shuttle Sidemount concept even mentioned. Very deceptive.

Video compilation supporting Augustine Commission Report Option 4B by Direct Launcher

Video compilation supporting Augustine Commission Report Option 4B from Direct Launcher on Vimeo.

How the Exploration and Development of Space will Determine The Rise and Fall of Humanity

Turning Point - How the Exploration and Development of Space will Determine The Rise and Fall of Humanity by Douglas Mallette is avalible through Amazon. Read why space is vital & how you can help us get there.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

$8 Billion not enough to go beyond LEO?

From the Orlando Sentiniel - Greason: It's time to base U.S. space policy on the "truth" posted by Robert Block.

OS: Now, let me put something to you that has been put to me. I don’t necessarily agree with it but it is a sentiment that is out there. By not finding anything useful the U.S. can do in space for NASA’s current human space flight budget of $7 billion or $8 billion a year, the committee failed. What’s your reaction to that sentiment?

JG: It’s not failure to point out truth. The truth is the truth. And it is high time that national space policy was made on the basis of truth and not on the basis of convenience. It is not true to say that we found there is nothing NASA can do within its current budget. There are two options laid out in the report that NASA can do with its current budget. What we did not find was a way for NASA to do significant human exploration beyond low Earth orbit in the near term with this current budget. And I don’t like that answer either but that is not going to change it.

With all due respect to Jeff Greason, what the Committee found is that we can do nothing significant beyond Low Earth Orbit, while maintaining the US aerospace work force. The Committee feels it is necessary to fly out the remain shuttle payloads, maintain the station until 2020 and build a heavy lift using traditional techniques and traditional technologies. Of course there is no money to do anything else. Trying to go beyond earth orbit with all that luggage is impossible. It is like trying to fly with an elephant on your back.

When NASA decided to pursue the shuttle and station instead of lunar development they sealed their fate. NASA might someday be able to again do great things but it must stop being a jobs program to do it. Giving NASA more money now will probably only extend the jobs of the current work force, rather than speed space development.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall of a Tragic Hero

Dr. Stewart Nozette has been arrested for Spying. Dr. Nozette who was largely responsible for the Clementine Lunar mission which reawaken interest in the Moon. Without whom there would not have been a Lunar Prospector, a New Vision for Space Exploration, or LCROSS or any knowledge of the water on the Moon because no one would have cared or thought we could afford it. This is a tragedy in its most classic sense. A Tragic Hero is one who caused his own downfall with the very things which made him great.

Stu made Clementine possible by stretching and bending the rules. He convinced The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization to fund the Deep Space Program Science Experiment (DSPSE) (better known as Clementine) to test military components for $80 million. Stu then spent all of the money in a matter of weeks so that it would not make any sense to cancel the project. Stu made it work and work spectacularly on a shoe string budget. Stu was also not afraid to ruffle feathers. I remember being in the front row of the first Clementine presentation at Johnson Space Center at the Lunar Planetary Science Conference in a room with hundreds of people, where they were showing live feed from the Moon, the first American lunar exploration since Apollo. Stu Nozette gleefully explained how NASA had nothing to do with this project. I could just feel the anger in the room when he said that.

Stu made himself a target of scrutiny by ruffling a lot of feathers and may have bent the rules too far this time. That which made Stu Nozette a hero, to all of us who long to see lunar development, may have been his downfall. It is so incredibly sad, it brings tears to my eyes. How I wish this was all some cruel joke. But this is reality, and we are watching the fall of a great man because of, not in spite of that which made he great. We are watching a real tragedy, the fall of a lunar hero.

I was not at all surprised that Dr. Nozette ended up in trouble, only that it took so long and was so severe. Dr. Nozette had always struck me as amoral and reckless. He may have had Antisocial Personality Disorder. Once I got to know Dr. Nozette I was surprised they had given such a reckless and amoral fellow a security clearance. Maybe they did because he was amoral and would work on things others with a strong sense of right and wrong wouldn't. He may have had an Ollie North role someone who will do your dirty work then when you are done with him throw him to the wolves. In Nozettes case use him to send a message to Israel that our relationship was cooling.

My only questions are, did Dr. Nozette actually transfer sensitive information or had his down fall been in the works for years, was he told he had important information when he did not? How long had they been planning to trap Dr. Nozette? Revenge is a dish best served cold. In this case it may have been very cold. Who must he have angered and how did he do it for them to want to trap him in to an offense which carries a life sentence. How long must they have thought about it to design the perfect trap for Dr. Nozette.

The silence about Dr. Nozette in the Aerospace community has been deafening Those who do speak, condemn him totally forgetting that a person is innocent until proven guilty and that we do not live in Stalinist Russia where people are wiped from history because they fall out of favor.

Dr. Nozette's gall made Clementine possible when no one else could have. Before Clementine it had been over a decade since anything american had been in near the Moon and there were no plans to ever go back. It is a sad testimate to the US Aerospace community that only a man as manipulative and amoral as Dr. Stewart Nozette could get us back to the Moon.

For More information see -Stewart Nozette, Israeli spy?

NASA Watch

Recently NASA WATCH violated my copyright by posting an entire blog post I had posted on another blog. NASA Watch suggested my comments were bizarre and in the past were odd. Also suggested my rhetoric was goofy, insensetive and ill-advised. I am not sure why NASA WATCH sees my writing as so important.Does Keith Cowing see me as a threatening competior? Is it because he has tied himself so securely to a dying agency? Is it because he doesn't feel qualified to engage in a real debate so he attacks people not ideas?

It is flattering that Keith Cowing thinks my words are so important. I believe he finds my writing odd because I come at the aerospace industry from an entirely different viewpoint than most, one dedicated to space settlement. I also value truth which is not a value shared by many in the space industry. I have found the way to really anger people in the space industry is by pointing out the truth.

Keith also needs to study literature, since he obviously did not understand my reference to the tragic hero of classic Greek and Shakespearian literature. He also misunderstood the literary device of understatement as a way of adding emphasis to an idea. Keith also seems to not understand the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Or the idea that bad acts do not negate past good acts.

The Final Augustine Report

The Augustine Report is out. Reading it makes me wonder is this the best way to spent $100 billion? Will any of there plans get us any closer to space development?

Sure we should fly out the shuttle payloads, and Ares I has become pointless but what about the rest of it. Is continuing Space Station operations until 2020 going to help space development or has the Space Station just been an expensive detour on the road to space development like the shuttle. Although extending the Station does give good opportunities and money for commercial launch services. This may be the silver lining of a very dark cloud.

The plan calls for heavy lift but all options are reconfigurations of existing technology. Don't you think 40 years after the Saturn 5 technology may have changed enough to consider a blank slate start? Maybe using existed parts maybe not, but starting from scratch, applying the newest technology from all fields. On the subject of heavy lift the report doesn't mention space solar power which is an excellent reason to build a heavy lift vehicle.

The report suggests that Mars is the best planetary surface for settlement. Why are they only looking at planets not moons, why are they only thinking in terms of surface rather than subsurface or orbit. The Moon has a more greater potential for economic development than Mars does.

When is NASA going to look at actual settlement and what it would require rather than just exploration. Do we need a different agency to do space development? NASA and the aerospace community certainly don't seem to be interested.