MAIN ARTICLE: International Space Race? Part I - ESA.
Is every race that humans compete in just clean fun except for space? Today's Main Article kicks off a new series and explores the possiblities.
Poll Results: Yesterday's poll was our weekly tracking poll on space spending.
Star Trek: In the News. The Dose takes a sneak peek at the new Star Trek Movie.
Yesterday's Comments: "Space waste" - Mas Gaviota
Having spent the last couple months covering the firestorm of controversy surrounding NASA, who would have thought two simple words could touch off a firestorm in yesterday's comments section.
Today's Poll: International Space Race or simple competition.
"If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space." John F. Kennedy, Rice University. (For the full speech and audio see "Obama-Kennedy "we set sail on this new sea"" 'Americans in Space, Nov 22, 2008)
International Space Race:
Humans love to compete, from running around a track and swimming in a pool at the International level down to simple, local school, spelling bees. It is always seen as just clean fun.
There is one area of human competitiveness that is invariably seen as a negative because of it's past history. SPACE RACE. In all other endeavors it can be seen as simple spirited competition except when you refer to space. I believe it is time to get past that mind set and see a race in space the same way we view other competitions. We may be seeing the first signs of this with the Google Lunar X Prize
This series has been on the que for awhile and finally decided to tackle it. The five part series will cover the following:
At times the 'Americans in Space' diary has been considered to "America first" and should promote a more cooperative stance and be a team player. I would like to see bigger projects handled together but I do not see America on the same team with other countries. To put it in sports terms I see it more as a "sports league". Every team competing but at the end of the day we all are in the probowl together and enjoy watching the Superbowl together. For some people they believe there is one already going on: Asian Space Race.
When Japan put their science orbiter around the moon they were alone so they won it for that year. China followed suit and they won it. India followed and America is preparing ours. We all compete during the season but we are all friends in the league.
The European Space Agency (ESA)
"Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA is an international organisation with 18 Member States. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country." - About ESA
The most recent success of the ESA was the launching and docking of the "Jules Verne" Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) in March of 2008.
The ATV is an unmanned logistics carrier transporting cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). It will also serve several other functions. It can be used to reboost the ISS to a higher orbit, act as a habitat while docked for up to six months and is packed with trash as it is unloaded. After it is filled it is undocked and a controled deorbit burn it conducted.
This ATV is the largest space craft to dock with the ISS after the American Space Shuttle (Space transportation system or STS). It has a ten ton cargo capability which is about four times the amount the Russian Progress (5200 pounds) cargo carry delivers.
As part of their commitment to the ISS they will do several more ATV cargo launches but the Europeans are already looking ahead with an Advanced ATV that will included down cargo capability. As a side note, two actual Documents that Jules Verne wrote rode to space in the new ATV.
ATV evolution: (image ESA)
"Such development could be of great strategic importance for Europe’s role in human spaceflight endeavours in low earth orbit and for future exploration missions, leading to an autonomous launch and return capabilities to and from orbit.
With the Space Shuttle retirement planned in 2010, the ISS partners will lose a major capability to return heavy equipment to Earth for replacement or upgrade. Following on from previous studies, the next logical step will be the capability to return payloads and goods from the ISS and any future orbital infrastructure.
Advanced Re-entry Vehicle
In this scenario the pressurised front cargo section of the ATV (the Integrated Cargo Carrier) would be replaced by a cargo re-entry capsule equipped with a heat shield and able to bring back hundreds of kg of cargo and valuable experiments. Such a project could use the heritage of the Atmospheric Re-entry Demonstrator, which flew successfully in 1998, as well as the work carried out in the period 1998-2002 on the Crew Return Vehicle for the ISS and associated technologies."
Looking farther down the road the ESA is considering a few more projects:
Crew Transportation (image ESA)
"Once the capability of bringing back cargo from space has been demonstrated, such a spacecraft could undertake the next logical step: a European crew transportation system, which would require more complex modifications and additional technologies.
The service module would require further upgrades including an improved propulsion system and the addition of the subsystems supporting the crew presence and operations. The upper part of the Advanced Re-entry Vehicle would be transformed into a human rated re-entry capsule. The new transportation system could be launched on a suitably modified version of Ariane 5.
This second-step vehicle would require additional developments in flight safety, especially for a guided crew escape system during launch and life support subsystems. This crew escape system would consist of solid rocket motors able to pull the crew capsule away from the launcher in the event of an emergency. It would have the capability to accommodate four astronauts and could be operational by 2020."
The various ATV's will be used to service the ISS in general and their own space labratory Columbus that was launched in 2008.
"The Columbus laboratory is ESA's biggest single contribution to the International Space Station. The 4.5-metre diameter cylindrical module is equipped with flexible reseach facilities that offer extensive science capabilities.
During its 10-year projected lifespan, Earth-based researchers, together with the ISS crew, will be able to conduct thousands of experiments in life sciences, materials science, fluid physics and a whole host of other disciplines, all in the weightlessness of orbit."
"The Columbus laboratory has room for ten International Standard Payload Racks (ISPRs), eight situated in the sidewalls, and two in the ceiling area.
Each rack is the size of a telephone booth and able to host its own autonomous and independent laboratory, complete with power and cooling systems, and video and data links back to researchers on Earth."
EUROPE AND LUNA:
The ESA is also on board for working with the United States on the lunar elements of the Vision for Space Exploration. This is America's current space policy as outlined by President Bush in 2004. (image ESA)
"An autonomous lunar lander capable of cargo and logistics delivery would significantly extend surface exploration opportunities"
The various launch vehicles that countries use will not be covered in this series of articles but in a seperate future article. My hope is this gives a brief outline on Europe's ambitions for human space flight and working in space.
SUGGESTED ADDITIONAL READINGS:
Yesterday's poll "Percent of Budget towards Space Spending." had an average turnout. With a higher then usual amount of members who would like to see space spending cut (23%). Tied at 17% were those that wanted to see funding raised to three percent or more than four percent.
An interesting side note, as can be seen by the links this was the eight consecutive weekly tracking poll conducted and a commenter noticed something I have consistantly missed:
"Your poll touched one of my pet peeves
MORE then 4% the peak spending during Apollo.
15% 2 votes
3% three percent, 25% less then the Peak of Apollo Spending.
23% 3 votes
2% two percent, 50% less then the Peak of Apollo Spending.
7% 1 votes
1% one percent, 75% less then the Peak of Apollo Spending.
LESS Then .6 tenths of one percent. Less then Current Budget.
It's less THAN. Unlike then, than is not related to time. Than is used in comparative statements.
Sorry, I couldn't help myself. In other news, I've always thought NASA was underfunded." - Lindy
Man did I ever feel like a cornhead! A tip of the hat Lindy for pointing it out. A classic example of being unable to see a tree in the forest. I cranked out the first poll and have been copy and pasting it off the first one.
Weekly Tracking Polls:
Poll #1 Space Solar Power (SSP) 27%
Poll #2 Space Solar Power (SSP) 33%
Poll #3 Nuclear Engines..............33%
Poll #4 Battery Systems..............18%
Poll #5 Battery Systems..............25%
SPACE SOLAR POWER (SSP)
MOON BASE 28% - 31.8% (adjusted)
STAR TREK: In the News.
"Chris Pine plays James T. Kirk and John Cho plays Hikaru Sulu in the upcoming Star Trek film, directed by J.J. Abrams. (Paramount)"
"You sure won't go where no man has gone before. Space is wonderous, like art. Do you think art is a waste of money, too?" - dkmich
"Much of the data that helps us understand climate change comes from NASA. I think one should be careful before they condemn programs." - Meng Bomin
The poll today I didn't quite know how to phrase it, I would appreciate comments on how better to form this poll as I want to run it throughout this series.
Should America pursue it's own interests in space without regard for trying to share out elements of our program with other countries. Should America work on all our future projects with other countries, like the International Space Station. Should America lend a hand and help other countries reach human space flight before we pursue broader agendas in space.