February 2008 Archives
Works for congressman
Talking about work as historian looking at 18th century US scientific thought
Many politicians would like a shorter gap between shuttle and orion
Something unnerving US will be responsible on others for access to space
NASA’s budget request does not have what is needed to accelerate timetable
Not clear if future administrations will provide those funds
I feel fairly good about holding the line but don’t feel confident about increasing it
Has been an attempt to increase it by a billion but not successful
Industry needs to lobby
Q why didn’t we look at lunar requirements before ESAS?
Cooke said: ESAS was informed by past studies for crew size and lift capacity
A lot of what we have done has refined that
And shows that ESAS is right gauge of capability
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is to launch a satellite for the US Air Force's Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) office in June this year, following delivery of SpaceX's Falcon 1 launch vehicle to the company's Pacific ocean based-Kwajalein launch site in May and the spacecraft's arrival in the June.
Tomorrow (28 February) is the final day of the conference. Hopefully, wifi willing, and without any other commitments interfering I should be live blogging from 0830h for the Lunar Architecture Update plenary session
Click to this post's extended entry for the photograph of Orbital Sciences' Commercial Orbital Transportation Services space act agreement's milestones slide, shown today at the 3rd space exploration conference by NASA commercial crew and cargo programme manager Alan Lindemoyer
Unfortunately I wasn't able to get to the session outlined below and the following session (the last of the day) is about engaging young people in space; and I haven't got the time to attend that. But in the extended entry for this blog post you can read my notes from the NASA commercial development that took place this morning. All the presentations from this conference are eventually finding their way to this NASA webpage
1345 - 1515
Plenary Panel—Human and Robotics Collaboration to Further Space Exploration
Moderator: Mr. Carl Walz, Advanced Capability Division Director, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, NASA
Humans and robots have to work in tandem to support sustainable exploration missions. Research and technology development to optimize the roles and humans in exploration tasks will increase the fidelity of these missions. Currently there are on-going efforts to understand various aspects of human and robotic exploration missions. This session will elucidate some of these efforts, beginning with devising low-cost innovative missions of opportunity. The other talks will also feature human-robotic interactions in the context of remote operations, the challenges associated with conducting extra-vehicular activity in lunar environment and innovative approaches for habitat construction.
Mr. Daniel Andrews, Project Manager LCROSS Mission, NASA ARC
Dr. Michael Gernhardt, Manager of Environmental Physiology Laboratory, NASA JSC
Mr. Phil Spampinato, Manager for Space Systems, ILC Dover
Dr. Robert O. Ambrose, Robonaut Project Lead, NASA JSC
The Exploration commercial development session notes can be reached by clicking this link
At 1030h today the next session of the NASA/AIAA 3rd space exploration conference is about commercial aspects of exploration, so until I can post the notes from that here are some slides from a presentation I have obtained
The time is now 1950h local time [Denver, Colorado] on 26 February (the publication times on this blog are GMT), at the end of day one of the conference and depending upon where the wi-fi is working tomorrow morning (Wednesday 27 February) I will either be in the "International Collaboration and Global Exploration" session or the "[Shuttle to Constellation] Transition: A Look Ahead" session or moving between the two - they both start at 0830h and carry on till 0945h
Find some of the presentations from day one on NASA's website here
After all that there is wifi here in the plenary session room. But sadly it hasn't always worked so for the second and third sessions for this first day I had to write it up and am posting it now, hours later
Due to other commitments I missed comments by the panel moderator and the first speaker for the third and last session of the day, held from 1600h to 1730h and called Constellation Lunar Capability. I arrived at about 1640h to listen to John "Phil" Sumrall, who first joined NASA in 1962 - read his comments at the bottom of this sessions notes; so the last speaker, question answered, is below the following session and panel descriptions
Moderated by Kent Joosten, Deputy Program Systems Engineer for Architecture, NASA JSC, the session was described as; "The Constellation Program Lunar Capability builds on the Initial Capabilities (the Orion spacecraft and Ares I launch vehicle), adding elements necessary for Lunar Exploration: the recently named lunar lander, Altair; the Ares V heavy lift launch vehicle, advanced space suits, lunar surface systems, and the advanced technologies to support them."
Mr. John P. Sumrall, Manager, Advanced Planning, Exploration Launch Projects Office, NASA
Mr. Clint Dorris, Deputy Manager, Altair Project, NASA JSC
Mr. Glenn C. Lutz, Manager, EVA Systems Project, NASA JSC
Ms. Linda Ham, Manager for Technology Integration, NASA JSC
Mr. Chris Culbert, Manager, Lunar Surface System Project, NASA JSC
UPDATE: This afternoon I visited the Denver convention center's Korbel ballroom where the plenary sessions will be held and found out that there is no wi-fi in the room and that the AIAA's media center for reporters has no video link to the plenary session, so I won't be blogging in real-time. I also found out that it will be days or weeks after the conference before video and presentations from the 3-days will be posted on NASA's site
I don't know how I missed this and doing lots of background research for this week's NASA/AIAA 3rd space exploration conference I only found one reference to it in Space Daily but on 30 January ILC Dover put out this statement about a NASA study for an Orion CEV airbag/floatation system
Last week Maryland based-computer game company Vision Videogames began work under a contract with NASA for a 3D visualisation software package for the US space agency's Constellation programme.
Called SIMConstellation, its graphical elements showing 3D Ares rockets and the Orion crew exploration vehicle and Altair lunar lander will incorporate engineering and performance data. This will enable NASA engineers to literally see trade space studies change effects to the vehicles and missions' parameters.
No up-to-date images are available yet for SIMConstellation but this image below from the programme SimCEV shows what was done in 2005, when as a subcontractor Vision Videogames demonstrated to NASA what was possible with visualisation software.
"We are just getting underway [with SIMConstellation]. We created the first [software] prototype six months ago and now we're under contract. But [NASA] has been using the prototype since November and has distributed it to its engineers," says Vision Videogames chief executive Bill Mueller, who declined to disclose the value of the 2005 subcontract and the 2008 contract.
There has been plenty of myth making by the UK media in the past week as they fall hook, line and sinker for the New Labour government's spin on human spaceflight and the UK
Just as the British monarchic Tudor dynasty of Henry VIII fame loved the King Arthur of the ancient past - Henry had a deceased older brother named after the mythical King of the Britons - this government likes to link itself to the improbable future of Brits in space
The now former planet of Pluto was discovered today in 1930. Now no longer a planet Flight International reported on a 124-year opportunity to image the planetoid and its satellite Charon in March 1985; as well as report on Rockwell's plans for a second generation Space Shuttle that could put 45,400kg (100,000lb) into equitorial orbit
The European Space Agency will be proposing a Crew Space Transportation System (CSTS) technology programme at its 25-26 November member states ministerial meeting and not asking for a green light for a major step in developing a new vehicle
This became clear at NASA's Kennedy Space Center last week at the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis when talking to ESA director-general Jean-Jacques Dordain
For those of you living in the US your PBS network had a documentary about military space programmes you could have watched yesterday
Well if you missed it, watch the clip above and maybe you can find it at your local DVD store sometime soon. Here's the promotional blurb I was sent that went with the documentary anyway
"On Tuesday, February 12, NOVA will present the premiere of "Astrospies," an inside look at the covert space programs that hid in the shadows of the 1960s space race. We think readers of Hyperbola will be interested in the show, and we hope you'll consider posting about it!
Amid the countdowns, launches, splashdowns, and parades that heralded the race to the moon, both the United States and the Soviet Union ran quiet campaigns to launch military astronauts on spying missions. Highly classified for decades, these top-secret missions might easily have triggered a shooting war in orbit. In "Astrospies," NOVA travels to Russia for exclusive access to cosmonauts and their restricted space facility and obtains candid first-time interviews with American astronauts in the Air Force-run military space program."
I'd like to add I like PBS because it has lots of British television programmes on it, always a nice alternative to the 500 channels the US hotels have that show adverts with short clips of an alleged drama inbetween
I spoke to NASA space operations chief Bill Gerstenmaier at Kennedy Space Center last week, immediately after the post-launch press briefing, and I asked him about the timing of the decision and announcement for Atlantis retirement, whether retirement is this September, after the Hubble Space Telescope STS-125 mission, or if it is after two more missions
After pausing he said that a decision would be made after STS-122. I was surprised by this as I had been told "in the spring" before
Later on I was told by a western European space agency official that NASA had already essentially decided to continue with Atlantis because of the flexiblity in missions that it gives them.
I had already written about NASA's ordering of long lead items for the Shuttle to Station Power Transfer System and its application to Atlantis would mean a five extra-vehicular activity per mission capability for all three of the remainng orbiters, giving the agency maximum flexiblity for the remaining nine missions (after STS-125 and including those so-called "contingency" missions)
It also makes public relations sense to announce the stay of execution immediately after a successful mission. So expect to see more of this!
For the Eagle eyed of you, you might have noticed that in my "VIDEO: Exclusive video of orbiter Endeavour in its OPF and its external tank and SRBs in the VAB" post the video with the ET and SRBs had not quite made it.
Working in KSC's news center on Friday I had to dash to grab a free ride to the airport before I could upload that final video. So here it is, at last, and courtesy of our shiny new video hosting system, so it's bound to work first time...
Exclusive video, taken today, of orbiter Endeavour in its Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) and its external tank and Solid Rrocket Boosters (SRB) in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), in preparation of its mission STS-123, can be seen below.
Endeavour will be moved from its OPF bay to the VAB early on the morning of Monday 11 February, with arrival at the VAB's bay one - where the ET and SRBs are already mated - scheduled for 0800h
The nose gear of Endeavour and the belly of the Shuttle can be seen clearly in this video from the OPF bay one
Here the starboard side of the orbiter can be seen and if you look carefully you should be able to see the E for Endeavour
Here the starboard wing and fuselage of the orbiter can be seen and if you look carefully you should be able to see the first few letters for United, as in United States
Looking at the rear of the orbiter Endeavour in OPF bay one, the engines come into view
Entering the Vehicle Assembly Building its four bays, each of which could contain a completed Space Shuttle stack, are on the right and left of the picture. The SRB nose cones that can be seen at the start of the video are for the April STS-124 mission's solid rocket boosters
Or watch NASA's video here
1453h With a smooth countdown Atlantis launched on time and sped into a bright blue clear sky here at KSC. Video wil be uploaded soon
credit: NASA tv
Foreground left, ESA ISS programme manager Alan Thirkettle and again on the left, but further away, former French astronaut Michel Tognini, ESA's astronaut centre chief
ESA ISS programme manager Alan Thirkettle said at the 1300h ESA briefing here at the Kennedy Space Center media center that the launch of the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle, its unmanned freighter for delivering cargo to the International Space Station, named Jules Verne, has a target launch date of the 7 to 8 March - but Arianespace confirmed to me that the date is 8 March and the time is 0125h French Guiana local time. That is 0525h central European time
Right to left: NASA launch weather officer Kathy Winters, STS-122 payload manager Debbie Hahn, NASA test director Jeff Spalding
While the continental US landing and TAL sites all have good weather in coming days the storm clouds are apparently closing in here at the Cape
According to today's 1000h EST L-1 STS-122 status briefing there is a 70% chance of weather prohibiting launch tomorrow and the decision could come as early as the mission management team (MMT) meeting that is held at 0445h
We were told that there was a 5% chance of severe weather, a thunder storm basically, an hour or two after the launch time of 1447h
While there was a 0% chance of weather prohibiting tanking, fuelling the Shutte's external tank with its liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, Kathy Winters, NASA's launch weather officer (from the 45th Weather Squadron at the US Air Force's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station), described the opinion of her office as being "a lot of concern" for the launch and they expected cumulus clouds and some rain. Essentially if the MMT doesn't like the weather expected later that day tanking won't happen
While Friday looked a bit better with a 30% chance of weather prohibiting launch Saturday was only worse with a 40% chance and then over the weekend wind speeds were expected to rise and later next week the weather fronts would likely repeat the current scenario
Jeff Spalding, NASA test director, said that there had yet to be a decision on whether three launch attempts would be made before standing KSC down
Talking to a senior advanced projects engineer from EADS Astrium today I got a few more details about the Crew Space Transportation System (CSTS) programme
As well as the concept revealed on Hyperbola the joint western European, Russian industrial technical study of possible concepts has covered the "whole spread" from "a simple capsule" through to "Clipper [Kliper]"
I seem to remember being told that the industrial report has to get to the sponsoring agencies, the European Space Agency and Russia's Federal Space Agency aka Roscosmos, by September so they have enough time to put together a proposal for the ESA member states ministerial council that is being held in November. The Astrium engineer declined to confirm or deny that September was the delivery date for what would be an intermediate results report - as the programme is funded to the end of this year
Asking about the booster for CSTS, over lunch here at Kennedy Space Center's canteen, I was told that that was being left to one side and would be considered by the Russians once an agreed concept had been reached. Although a man-rated Ariane 5 has been mooted as a possible booster candidate the Astrium engineer's reaction strongly suggested that the Russians would be less than happy about anything other than a Russian rocket. Well, you have got to accept they have the most reliable man-rated launch systems in the world
But the "Soyuz 3" proposal is not firm and I was told the CSTS booster could just as easily be a wholly new design. What I was told that I had not heard before was that Soyuz 2 can do up to 16,000kg (35,200lb) into low Earth orbit at a push
But can you really get a Moon-capable (as CSTS is supposed to be) vehicle, plus margin, for 16 tonne?
I am flying to Florida today with a 1245h (local time) flight from London Gatwick and expect to be in Cocoa Beach by about 1900h EST tonight
I am still planning on live blogging from Kennedy Space Center's media center about the launch and the L-1 media events that will take place for the European Space Agency, whose Columbus module is being taken to the International Space Station, and NASA's own press briefings. I understand there might be an Ares I-X briefing - and expect some NASA budget reporting and commentary in due course
But in the mean time here is some orbiter Atlantis launch goodness
If any of you out there are near Caltech, or are students at the college, then do try to get to this lecture by the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, G. Madhavan Nair, taking place today at 1300h local time (2000h GMT)
For those of you that have a small fortune and would like to make it even smaller here is an event to explain how to do it, by becoming a space industry entrepreneur
The state of Virginia continues to progress with its zero tax law for space businesses
No doubt that company is also eagerly awaiting the outcome of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Service progamme phase one space act agreement award decision by NASA, now expected this Friday, on 8 February
Following the launch of the Russian Express-AM33 telecom satellite on a Khrunichev Space Center Proton last week, we can expect the launch of the Samara Space Centre Soyuz-U booster with the Energia Progress M-63 cargo ship tomorrow
credit: S P Korolev Energia rocket and space corporation
So last Thursday, the 31st January, was the 50th anniversary of the US coming second in the race to space and according to this some people want to recreate the other space event American came second in, putting a man in space - well best of luck with that
Over at Mars blog Thomas James has a think about an RIA Novosti report of a Russian space programme veteran's apparent revelation that Gagarin was not the first man in space. But the report just seems to be a re-hash of this 2001 Pravda report to me
When I was in Russia in 2005 I asked about the theories that Gagarin was not the first man in space. It is not a question the Russians like to hear. I was talking to a lecturer of the Moscow Bauman State University and he denied any suggestion that Gagarin was not the fist man to orbit the Earth but he was open to the idea that there may have been suborbital flights before Yuri
So NASAWatch tells us that the US space agency is dropping references to the Vision for space Exploration and is instead using the phrase US space exploration policy
The memos detailing the Constellation programme's Ares I crew launch vehicle and Orion crew exploration vehicle schedule changes and the retraction of that information, to be found here and here, are an indication of the ongoing struggle the agency and its contractors are having with developing the transportation system they said would be safe, simple and soon
What I am not sure about with the NASASpaceflight.com test delay related figure of a $700 million shortfall is, whether that is the monies that NASA associate administrator for exploration, Richard Gilbrech, has already asked Congress for to bring the first flight date of Ares/Orion back to September 2014, or if it is additional money. I suspect it is the latter
NASA administrator Michael Griffin, in his remarks to the Space Transportation Association's (STA) 22 January breakfast briefing in DC, didn't shed any light on whether that is so and neither did his answer to questions regarding the memos. But we do now know that his agency intends to slip the dates for its Ares and Orion test flights; how and when Griffin allows that new truth to be communicated is the only obstacle to us getting a fuller picture
I will be attending the 3rd NASA/AIAA space exploration conference that is being held in Denver later this month, so expect a lot more about the new schedules to emerge from that
Meanwhile, for a more thorough comment on Griffin's STA speech see Jon Goff's response here
For those of you who have dipped into this oscillation issue but perhaps haven't seen all the various reports about the Ares I crew launch vehicle and its oscillation conundrum you might want to peruse through the following
You can get a good idea of what the problem is from this Aviation Week and Space Technology article
And this AvWeek article talks about a Shuttle launch NASA wants to help them address the issue
Then there is NASA's answers to all the questions about the oscillation issue
Transterrestrial Musing's Rand Simberg has his views on the situation and he doesn't like NASA's answers either
Mars blog's Thomas James takes his frustrations out on Ares and appears to suggest that the SRB first-stage should be replaced with a new cryogenic system that uses the Pratt & Whitney RS-68 engines that Ares V will use
Hobbyspace.com has some links to related Ares I articles
And finally, a guest poster on NASA deputy administrator Shana Dale’s blog writes about risk and humans
This image is from an EADS presentation given on 29 January in Bremen, Germany. I am trying to get more details about it including whether it is an EADS concept or something from the European Space Agency
More info soon.
1333h GMT: a senior ESA official overseeing CSTS has sent me the following
"This is one of the numerous ideas being traded for CSTS. We [are] working towards defining the vehicle concept - it is taking a bit longer than planned."