MAIN ARTICLE: The Heinlein Prize.
Robert and Virginia Heinlein created a trust for unique contests. Read about the newest one.
Poll Results: Yesterday's poll had strong support for the new Administration if they called for a bold plan for space.
Star Trek: In the News. Bob Thompson gives his take of J. J. Abrams' Star Trek. Scroll down to read the latest.
Yesterday's Comments: "I love that phrase: "first inaugural address" with the great expectation it carries." - Joffan
Today's Poll: Poll #5 Highest priority for National Security in space.
Last in the current series.
For those of you who never enjoyed the works of Robert Heinlein, here is a short blurb from wiki:
"Robert A. Heinlein (July 7 1907 – May 8 1988) was an American novelist and science fiction writer. Often called "the dean of science fiction writers", he is one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of "hard science fiction". He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was the first writer to break into mainstream, general magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, in the late 1940s, with unvarnished science fiction. He was among the first authors of bestselling, novel-length science fiction in the modern, mass-market era. For many years, Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke were known as the "Big Three" of science fiction."
There was a trust fund set up by the Heinleins for the promotion of ideas relating to his life's work in writing science fiction, specifically, space.
The Heinlein Prize Trust was founded for "Accomplishments in Commercial Space Activities" in 2003. The Trustees of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust announced the following contest:
MICROGRAVITY RESEARCH COMPETITION
"Decades of demonstrations have shown that microgravity provides a unique window on biological and physical processes. Because of substantial recent funding by NASA and the private sector, microgravity will soon be more accessible for exploitation by the broad research community.
To reward innovation in the use of microgravity to advance biotech, nanotech, combustion, metallurgy, and other fields, The Heinlein Prize Trust announces the Microgravity Research Competition. Sponsored by the Trust and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the competition offers a $25,000 prize and transportation to and from Low Earth Orbit for the winning experiment aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.
The announcement available at www.labflight.com gives examples of microgravity's practical applications and provides details on the competition. Proposals are due on March 20, 2009. Winners will be announced on April 18, 2009 at a banquet hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship."
The Mission Statement for the Heinlein Prize Trust is short and to the point:
"We are at a cusp, a decision point. We can decide to go one way, to the stars, and enjoy unlimited opportunities, unimagined possibilities, endless evolution, and eternal racial life. Or we can refuse the challenge, stay where we are—and die." - Robert A. Heinlein, 1972
The legacy of Robert and Virginia Heinlein is the shared dream of a future of humankind expanding ever outward into space—to the Moon, to the planets, out and onward to the stars.
Space is not to be the realm of the select few. The dream, and the future, belong to us all, of every race and every nation. It is in a child in school today who understands the positive vision of the future of Robert Heinlein. It is the dream of all who see a future bright with possibilities.
Today is a dark day for space, with the shuttle grounded. We are not on the Moon, and haven't been for a generation. The day will come when we will mine the asteroids and walk the sands of Mars. We'll live and work in space for the benefit of all humanity. We'll have horizons so vast that no one who dreams and strives need be left behind. All of these things we can do, and we shall.
This bright future will be created by those of you, today, who strive to create advances in commercial space activities."
It is a grand Idea, America and the International community of planet Earth, wandering the solar system at both work and play. I fully support America becoming a space faring Nation. It is important that this message gets advocated again and again because the support for space is broad but only an inch deep. So the importance of space, for both America and the International community, has to be continuely brought to the forefront. It has to be illustrated in positive ways why a change of mindset will lead to a greater economy and safety for all of humanity.
"SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles and spacecraft intended to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of both manned and unmanned space transportation, ultimately by a factor of ten. With the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 vehicles, SpaceX offers highly reliable/cost-efficient light, medium and heavy lift capabilities for spacecraft insertion into any orbital altitude and inclination. In addition, the Dragon spacecraft provides Earth to LEO transport of pressurized and unpressurized instruments, cargo, and crew, including resupply to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2010.
SpaceX was recently awarded a Cargo Resupply Services contract by NASA. The $1.6B contract includes 12 flights between 2010 and 2015 with a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg to be transported to the ISS."
(image Dragon from SpaceX)
SpaceX has been around since 2002 and have increased the number of jobs to 650 with more growth in store in the coming years. Here is an image of the Dragon from SpaceX. This is the PDF (2 page datasheet) for recently announced DragonLab.
NASA's Lunar Electric Rover in the 56th Inaugural Parade
For a review (see "Inaugural parade highlights: Moon rover.", 'Americans in Space', Jan 18, 2009) of this configuration of a Lunar Rover you can visit the link, included are images and a brief look at the original "moon buggy".
Yesterday's poll "Would you support President Obama if he called for a new American boldness in space." was a surprise. The members who took part in the poll strongly supported (38%) a large program for space, if proposed by President Obama. Money was not the object but getting out in space was. Those members who would support a major action in space predicated it on "pay as you go" plan. Almost one third (29%) wanted to see space spending cut.
STAR TREK: In the News.
"Star Trek fanatics don't know what they want until you give it to them -- and then they complain. OK, so count on J. J. Abrams Star Trek to navigate into a sort of familiar environment when the new Trek opens to a great deal of anticipation on May 8. But whatever the narrative, the 11th Star Trek film will likely be neither bold enough nor loyal enough to please all of the Trekkers, Trekkies and Trek-ophiles all of the time."
This comment also relates to today's poll on National Security in space.
"I have nothing against a renewed space ... program. But I would prefer that Obama announce a new project to create a decentralized environmental-industrial complex that will rival and eventually overwhelm the military-industrial complex that has misspent so much of our treasure and twisted our national priorities for the past 60 years." - Meteor Blades
"Yes, that's true. But I foresee a renewed space program as an important adjunct to the enironmental-industrial complex you write of. With the added bonus of taking the space program out of the hands of the military with its emphasis on space-based weapons programs and satellites. The tech gained from such a program would have benefits far beyond what they have now or what they had in the original space program." - Indexer
"A renewed space program as a subset of a revised approach to government and global politics is something I would be 100% supportive of.
I would also note that our "practicing" doing this (a new progressive approach to government and international affairs) with human space exploration would be like playing blackjack at the $1 table before moving to the $100 table (or $1000 table) that being the specter of catastrophic climate change.
If American, Chinese, Russian, South Asian, European, Japanese and other astronauts can join forces in space for a common purpose, good will shall spill over into other undertakings.
Besides, what is the harm in trying?" - Bill White
This is the fifth in a series of polls on a report of recommendations made to the new Administration by the Aerospace Industry. This is the section I personally have the biggest problem with. The MIC grabs to big of the share for space spending and I would prefer it was moved into the promotion of commercial activies. I didn't weigh in before, with my personal opinions, on the other polls but in this area I am going with #8, a stable budget and no more for spy satellites for right now. It would be better to upgrade old weather satellites as a priority then new spy satellites. Just color me distrustful.
Section 4: National Security Space: Protecting Our Nation, Citizens, Allies and Friends through Space Assets.
Balanced and Stable Funding.
"The United States should provide balanced and stable funding for current national security space systems, including those supporting ballistic
missile defense, while ensuring continued R&D and deployment to counter future threats.
Modernizing-Maintaining NSS Infrastructure.
"The United States should support the modernization and upgrading of our aging national security space infrastructure in order to maintain effective systems that can address the increasingly complex demands of the future."
Space Protection and Situational Awareness.
"Space protection and space situational awareness programs should be a funded national priority guided by a comprehensive strategy:
Promptly establish a comprehensive space protection strategy to guarantee unimpeded and continued space operations.
Task our defense and intelligence agencies to consider establishing a national space protection lead reporting to the secretary of defense and director of national intelligence."
More Responsive Space Infrastructure.
"Budget levels and funding for ORS should be increased to make sure it becomes a model for fulfilling responsive, affordable and on-demand space support for national security operations."
Export Controls and NSS Industrial.
"The U.S. government should undergo a careful review of critical space technologies to determine technologies that should be controlled under the State Department IT AR process and those that are truly commercial and could be controlled under the Commerce Department process. This review must be followed with meaningful and careful legislation that would ensure the right technologies are controlled the right way."