MAIN ARTICLE: Neil Armstrong: President Elect Obama.
In an open letter Neil Armstrong call in the new Administration to continue funding NASA.
Poll Results: Yesterday's poll "Should America establish an American Lunar Cup Race?" gave a rare result in 'Americans in Space' polling. Scroll down to see the results, click subscribe to stay informed on space issues.
Star Trek: In the News. What does the New York Times have to say about Star Trek? Scroll down for the latest.
Yesterday's Comments: "Didn't Apollo 13 fly around the moon? Lets try Venus or Mars." - Void Indigo
Today's Poll: "Percent of Budget towards Space Spending."
Weekly tracking poll on what percentage of the Federal Budget should move to space funding.
In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Neil Armstrong wrote a letter in response to an article penned earlier by Andy Pasztor "Tough Decision Looms on Space Shuttle's Fate ". Neil Armstrong is certainly not a stranger to space:
"former American astronaut, test pilot, university professor, and United States Naval Aviator. He is the first person to set foot on the Moon. His first spaceflight was aboard Gemini 8 in 1966, for which he was the command pilot. On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft together with pilot David Scott. Armstrong's second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission on July 20, 1969. On this mission, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent 2½ hours exploring while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the Command Module. Armstrong is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor." - wiki
When someone has walked on the moon, their voice, on space issues, is not taken lightly. Armstrong took exception with some of the statements in Pasztor's article:
"You recently reported on the decisions that the new administration will face in connection with the American manned space program ("Tough Decision Looms on Space Shuttle's Fate," U.S. News, Dec. 17). Your article indicated that President-elect Barack Obama's transition team "faces a tough early choice between extending the life of the aging space shuttle and accelerating its replacement."
I certainly hope that isn't accurate, in that the transition team should play no part in such decisions. While these men and women are experienced and enthusiastic space program veterans, they are neither aerospace engineers nor former program managers and cannot be sufficiently knowledgeable to make choices in the technical arena."
Armstrong is correct there, the transition team is only to gather data so President Elect Obama can make any final decisions. Neil went on to say:
"He should have no difficulty receiving high-quality information from NASA. Engineers are painfully honest and insist on presenting any assumptions used in their decision process. Therefore a conclusion can only be challenged when an erroneous assumption can be identified."
There I take an exception with the idea that if the engineer is from NASA, they are painfully honest. History has shown that voices can be shut down or pushed to the top at NASA.
The Moon Walker finished with his final thoughts and his thumbs up for the current Constellation program:
"A great deal of thought and analysis has gone into NASA's program to return to space exploration as the principal focus of the agency. The breadth of NASA's creative thinking was limited by the funding constraints, and compromises had to be made. Even so, the agency has fashioned a challenging but credible program to return to the moon and go on toward Mars.
NASA's management is very strong and its engineering and scientific talent extraordinary. I believe they can be counted on to deliver new knowledge, excitement and inspiration as they continue their expansion of the human boundary.
Again I can not entirely endorse the idea that, "A great deal of thought and analysis has gone into NASA's program" because that is not the case. The architecture presented in the Contellation program was not entirely vetted and was not what the President had called for in the "Vision for Space Exploration" or VSE.
The VSE called for completion of the International Space Station, using the Space Shuttle, then retire the shuttle at the end of 2010. ( To avoid a costly recertification called for in 2010) The Space Shuttle heritage was supposed to be used as much as possible but that was not even really considered when the Constellation was rolled out. The SME's ( shuttle main engines) were not used, so a new engines had to designed and developed, and was recently test fired. The four segment SRB's (solid rocket boosters) were not used either but TWO news ones were to be developed by ATK, a five segment SRB for the Ares I and a 5.5 segment SRB for the Ares V heavy launch vehicle. So the idea that alternative were actively pursued is not really accurate.
Pasztor didn't really suggest there was any alternatives either:
"Another possible shuttle alternative, which is strongly opposed by current NASA management, envisions using existing military rockets for propulsion. Proponents contend they would be more reliable and could be developed more quickly."
The "military rockets" refered to are the Atlas V and the Delta IV launch systems or EELV's (evolvable expendable launch vehicles). They are used for both the military and commercial satellite launches. They currently are not configued for human crewed flight and many suggest a capsule for these would be faster and cheaper then the current Orion capsule NASA is developing.
There is another possible alternative that has some NASA insiders support called the Direct 2.0 system. This was covered in NASA News
Having posed various ideas and proposals for America to advance it's space program it was a surprise the last one enjoyed the highest DKOS member support with 62% voting for "America establish an American Lunar Cup Race" with 34% expressing it was a harebrained scheme that shouldn't be funded. Only three percent chose no opinion.
STAR TREK: In the News.
"In the annals of fandom, "Star Trek" has a special place. The original series gradually became a pop-culture staple and the cornerstone of an immense commercial franchise largely because of the devotion and — crucially — the collective creativity of its fan base. The original series went off the air in 1969, after three seasons. But fans continued to dream up their own "Star Trek" stories, distribute zines, make videos, write songs, publish newsletters and create visual art. And they gathered at conventions, some dressed in homemade Trek outfits, which is why, in the annals of "Star Trek" fandom, Joan Winston holds a special place: she was an organizer of the first Star Trek fan convention, in 1972."
Bill White has been working on a fasinating proposal for another space race:
"A teaser ... US space advocates need to accept two realities:
(1) Tax dollars shall be insufficient to fund what we desire to see in terms of space exploration; and
(2) By being willing to participate with international space ventures we do NOT dominate, we (the US) can re-build a reputation for being able to cooperate, which shall enhance our geo-political soft power (IMHO).
A creative re-interpretation of why we did Project Apollo.
Sponsor a lunar race WITHOUT a giant chunk of taxpayer money - offer instead US "approval" and perhaps a name for that trophy and a willingness to be good sports if another nation wins.
That plus assistance from Houston's Mission Control and our deep space tracking radars, etc" - L2 Cup
"The Russians could absolutely send a person - around the moon.
Remember: the Soyuz was built as USSRs moonship. True, their booster is a little weak, but they could dock it with another vehicle in orbit, to provide the extra oomph." - Rayk
The Blue State Bandit "Had an interesting conversation...with Dr. Derrick Pitts (Head of Astronomy TFI, and KO's Space Advisor) that touches on space and resources a few months back.
We were talking about the retirement of the Space Shuttle Fleet, and I brought up what I call "Green Space".
There are many rare earths used in the manufacturing of satellites. Gold is on of the most well known (electrical wiring and circuitry), and I'm sure that there are many others. But beyond precious metals, there are other materials, and (here's where the interesting part comes in) system packages that could be recycled cost effectively in low earth orbit.
Here was my idea:
As a final mission for the Shuttle program, retrofit the shuttle to land on Mars. Send it into low earth orbit on a one year mission to collect parts and materials from dead satellite. I'm talking conductive materials, solar arrays, chemicals, power supply systems, nav computers, structural elements (aluminum, titanium, and composites), and what ever else could be re-purposed or recycled in the future should we stage a permanent presence on Mars. Then fit the shuttle with a few retros and sent her to her final landing on Mars.
This would serve many purposes.
- Reduction of space junk equals a reduced risk of LEO collisions.
- The need for materials launched into LEO would be reduced thru culling from expired sats saving valuable payload space, and reducing number of launches (reduces fuel burned).
- The shuttle itself would increase available work/living space for Mars Teams.
- This would give Mars Missionaries a head start on setting up a more permanent presence. It would provide extra computing power, electrical energy, energy storage capacity, and spare parts and materials for projects.
Dr. Pitts was curious, and said he had never thought of such an effort, but surmised that someone was probably drawing up something like this now.
Still have not seen anyone else talking about "Green Space"."
This is an interesting idea. I am a firm believer in developing Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to Geosyncronus Earth Orbit (GEO) commercial space. Getting rid of space junk is one of the tasks IN space ships could work on. Space spells JOBS.
This is the "Americans in Space' weekly tracking poll of NASA spending. During the peak spending during the Apollo lunar missions the NASA budget reached four percent of the federal budget. NASA currently recieves less then one percent. Six tenths of one percent with human space flight getting about half of that number.