Saturday, February 28, 2009

SynergyMoon becomes 17th GLXP Competitor

Mike Fabio on The Launch Pad posts, "Today we welcome a new competitor in the Google Lunar X PRIZE: team SYNERGY MOON. Formed from a partnership between Interplanetary Ventures, Human Synergy Project, and Interorbital Systems, they bring the total publicly announced team count to 17."
Extended Press Release from Space Fellowship HERE.

New Moon slips past Venus

The impossible alignments of Jovian Moons, and Sunrise with solar Transit,establishing a Poetic License for Stanley Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey have nothing on reality. In their course, those without clouds in their western sky, Friday evening, were treated a real experience of the Music of the Spheres.

As Earth rotated (about 370 meters per second at my latitude) eastward, the backdrop to the line-of-sight view of the new born lunation featured Venus, rapidly passing Earth on the inside track around the Sun.

The Old Moon was also in the New Moon's arms as earthshine from high noon over the middle Pacific Ocean echoed back some detail in the contrast of the mostly shadowed Near Side. It is worth a click on the picture above, from Bad Astronomy, to capture the telescopic affect.

Beginning with Abraham, according the Josephus, Astrology would begin its long journey from religion to modern heresy. With views like this, a regular and highly predictable feature of naked eye astronomy, coinciding with the rise and fall of armies, it's not hard to see why Astrology, from the Neolithic stone cutters to Chaldean priests of Ur to the newspaper readers of the modern Occident and Orient, is so compelling.

From the Patriarchs to the scholars, however, the alternative explanations, manifest order in obedience to an even higher order, proved more compelling still.

LRO/LCROSS Atlas 5 launch now set for May 20

NASA's first mission in a bid to return to the moon is being pushed back almost a month due to a delay in a military satellite launch and precise timing required for the lunar mission.

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is now being planned May 20 aboard an Atlas V from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The moon mapper and a piggyback payload that will search for polar ice had been slated to fly on April 24, and then tentatively for May 7.

Launch of the mission must be timed to put both the orbiter and the LCROSS shepherd and impactor on a proper course to achieve its objectives. Launch opportunities come up about every two weeks, when the proper polar orbit to terminator juxtaposition can be achieved at lunar orbit insertion upon arrival.

NASA was forced to abandon an April 24 launch and launch opportunities between May 7 and May 9 when a planned May 9 launch of another Atlas V, with a military communications satellite slipped to March 13.

NASA had considered trying to launch LRO-LCROSS during the early May window but ultimately decided that Atlas turnaround operations would "make the schedule too tight."

NASA earlier this week set March 12 as a tentative launch date for shuttle Discovery's International Space Station assembly mission. But the agency has yet to officially book the date on the Air Force Eastern Range, which provides tracking, range safety, weather forecasting and launch scheduling services for all missions from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The U.S. Air Force would have to agree to push back the March 13 Atlas V launch for Discovery to fly on March 12. It typically takes two days to reset range systems for the launch of different vehicles.

LRO/LCROSS will be the first robotic precursor mission to fly since President Bush directed NASA to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 in 2004.

California cyclist peddling to the Moon

James Burns
Merced Sun-Star

Up the gravel driveway and through the garage of this McSwain ranch-style home sits cycling's next shining local star.

Larry Burns is seated at the kitchen table, hands folded in his lap, mileage log in front of him, hot tea warming on the stove.

The Moon Rider.

And to the best of our knowledge, he is the only one of his kind.

For nearly five decades, the former fourth-grade teacher at McSwain Elementary School has been combing the rural grounds outside the Merced city limits.

For the last 30 years, he's been keeping track of his daily travels, jotting his miles down on note pads and calendars.

He projects he'll reach the pie in the sky by the summer of 2011. To do so, he'll have to log at least 1,000 miles a month for the next 2 ½ years.

"He knows how to set goals, that's for sure," his wife, Anise, said. "He likes destinations. Not physical destinations, but goals to go after.

"He gets a goal in mind and wants to achieve it. I think it goes to show that if you find a workout you like, and you really, really enjoy it, you can achieve just about anything."

Read the story HERE.

Boeing offers Altair lunar lander design revisions

Boeing Company, through its Space Exploration division, submitted a proposal to NASA Thursday, for the Constellation Altair lunar lander design support. (NASA is expected to award multiple contracts this spring.)

If present plans continue, now supported in the Obama administration's FY2010 budget request made to Congress last week, Altair will eventually be launched into Earth orbit aboard an unmanned Ares V heavy-lift booster stack and later provide astronauts with life support for a temporary base or unmanned cargo landings on the Moon.

Like the Apollo lunar module flown between 1969 and 1972m an ascent stage will also return crew to an orbiting Orion CEV that will transport crew back to Earth.

The Altair Conceptual Design Contract calls for NASA-directed engineering tasks to support evaluation of conceptual designs, maturation of the vehicle design, and preparation of products for system-requirements and system-definition reviews.

"Boeing is uniquely positioned to provide great design support now, as well as to support Altair development, test and evaluation when the time comes," said Keith Reiley, lunar lander project manager for Boeing. "Our ability to transition a skilled space shuttle work force ensures we can distribute the necessary expertise where it is needed as NASA transitions from the shuttle program to Constellation. We plan to support NASA with a local core team, enterprisewide specialty engineering experts, and a range of suppliers, including small and innovative high-tech companies."

The Altair lunar lander is envisioned with two stages: The descent stage will house the majority of the fuel, power supplies, and breathing oxygen for the crew. The ascent stage will house the astronauts, life-support equipment, and fuel for the ascent stage motor and steering rockets. The lander will carry a crew of four and be able to stay on the moon for up to six months. Altair will be capable of landing with 15 to 17 metric tons of dedicated cargo. The first crewed flight is scheduled for 2020.

NASA issued its request for proposal on Jan. 28 and will manage the Altair Conceptual Design Contract out of Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Oceaneering Signs Contract with NASA to Develop and Produce the Constellation Space Suit System

Oceaneering International has announced the signing of a letter contract with NASA to develop and produce the Constellation Space Suit System.

"Oceaneering," according to the Orlando Sentinel, "best known for its deep sea diving suits, was actually first selected last June for the project. NASA later terminated the contract, saying it would re-evaluate cost proposals from Oceaneering and its rival Hamilton Sundstrand.

"Hamilton Sundstrand protested the contract award to Oceaneering on a technicality. The space suit has been a signature contribution to NASA by Hamilton Sundstrand since the 1960s, and its initial loss was a hard blow to the company.

"In December last year, the two companies announced they would work together on the project to produce a new generation of space wear that will protect astronauts during voyages to the International Space Station and exploration of the moon's surface."

Oceaneering will start work immediately, and the letter contract will be finalized within six months. Oceaneering anticipates that the final contract will include a base period of approximately six years, and have an estimated value of over $180 million.

Oceaneering will design and build the Configuration 1 CSSS, which will be used during launch, abort and re-entry of Orion Block 1, and for contingency extravehicular activity. The contract also includes options to build additional Configuration 1 suits, provide ongoing CSSS-related operational and training support, and design and build the CSSS Configuration 2 suit, which will be used for activities on the lunar surface.

These options would extend the contract through 2020.

"The letter contract requires Oceaneering "to begin work on the design, development and production of the suits while NASA and the company negotiate the contract's final terms before August 29. The current award amount for the the letter contract is limited to $9.6 million. The original contract was worth $745 million and called for a total of 109 suits, 24 of which would have been lunar suits," according to the Sentinel.

According to a NASA press release, the spacesuit and support systems will “provide protection against the launch and landing environment and spacecraft cabin leaks.” It will also enable astronauts to walk in space, and as well as stroll for up to a week on the moon’s surface."

“The system also must be designed to support multiple spacewalks during potential six-month lunar outpost expeditions. Suits and support systems will be needed for as many as four astronauts on moon voyages and as many as six space station travelers,” NASA said.

The Oceaneering-led team includes United Space Alliance, LLC, David Clark Company Incorporated and its subsidiary Air-Lock, Incorporated, Harris Corporation, Cimarron Software Services, Inc., Paragon Space Development Corporation, Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation, and ILC Dover LP.

Zooey Deschanel Plans Lunar Wedding

Many in the world of independent cinema quietly wept on December 29, when it was revealed that quirky-cute actress-singer Zooey Deschanel was officially off the market, getting engaged to Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard.

In the wake of the announcement, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth … riots broke out in cities across the country (especially in Portland).

It was bad. In fact, the future Mr. and Mrs. Gibbard have finally been forced to take action.

In order to escape the indie world’s wrath, they’re moving their wedding to the most remote spot possible: the Moon.

UF professor's property seized - accused of defrauding NASA

As relayed Wednesday, University of Florida professor Samim Anghaie, director of the Innovative Nuclear Space Power and Propulsion Institute (INSPI), is suspected of having defrauded NASA of contracts and purchased "multiple cars and homes."

The Gainesville Sun has a follow-up story on the seizure of Anghaie's property by the FBI.

Omega Moon captured in Maine, last lunation

John Stetson, a Maine photographer, obtained this rare apparition of the almost Full Moon, immediately after the penumbra lunar eclipse had ended, centered on the other side of Earth earlier this Month, not long after sunset. The Omega Moon is taken over water, as light passing through a sharp thermal boundary close to the Earth's surface.
Read the Story in the London Mail

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Moon plan stands in FY 2010 Budget Proposal

According the Aviation Week, Hat Tip to NASA Watch:
"The fiscal 2010 NASA budget outline to be released by the Obama Administration Feb. 26 adds almost $700 million to the out-year figure proposed in the fiscal 2009 budget request submitted by former President Bush, and sticks with the goal of returning humans to the moon by 2020. The $18.7 billion that Obama will request for NASA - up from $18.026 billion for fiscal 2010 in the last Bush budget request - does not include the $1 billion NASA will receive in the $787 billion stimulus package that President Barack Obama signed Feb. 16. Aviation Week has learned that in addition to the human-lunar return, Obama wants to continue robotic exploration with probes to Mars and other Solar System destinations, as well as a space telescope to probe deeper into the universe."

Astrobiotics/CMU foresee role for micro-bots

Photo, above, by Mark Maxwell, Astrobotic Technology: Small commercial robots the size of riding mowers could prepare a safe landing site for NASA's lunar outpost by surrounding it with an eight-foot high semi-circle berm to block grit kicked out by spacecraft landings from hitting nearby habitats, according to research by Astrobotic Technology Inc. and Carnegie Mellon University, funded by NASA.

Astrobotic Technology and Carnegie Mellon Researchers Show Small Robots Can Prepare Lunar Surface for NASA Outpost

PITTSBURGH—Small robots the size of riding mowers could prepare a safe landing site for NASA's Moon outpost, according to a NASA-sponsored study prepared by Astrobotic Technology Inc. with technical assistance from Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute.

Astrobotic Technology and Carnegie Mellon researchers analyzed mission requirements and developed the design for an innovative new type of small lunar robot under contract from NASA's Lunar Surface Systems group.

The results will be presented Friday in Washington, D.C., at a NASA Lunar Surface Systems conference co-sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Space Enterprise Council.

"NASA faces a challenge in planning the layout for its outpost, which is expected to begin operations in 2020," said William "Red" Whittaker, chairman and chief technical officer of Astrobotic and a Carnegie Mellon professor of robotics. "For efficient cargo transfer, the landing site needs to be close to the outpost's crew quarters and laboratories. Each rocket landing and takeoff, however, will accelerate lunar grit outwards from the pad. With no atmosphere to slow it down, the dry soil would sandblast the outpost."

The research examined two potential solutions: 1) construction of a berm around the landing site, and 2) creation of a hard-surface landing pad using indigenous materials.

In the first solution, researchers found that two rovers weighing 330 pounds each would take less than six months to build a berm around a landing site to block the sandblasting effect. A berm 8.5 feet tall in a 160-foot semi-circle would require moving 2.6 million pounds of lunar dirt. Robots this size can be sent to NASA's planned polar outpost site in advance of human expeditions. Astrobotic Technology Inc. has proposed that landing site preparation be provided by commercial ventures.

In the second solution, researchers showed how small robots could comb the lunar soil for rocks, gathering them to pave a durable grit-free landing pad, said John Kohut, Astrobotic's chief executive officer. "This might reduce the need to build protective berms. To discern the best approach, early robotic scouting missions need to gather on-site information about the soil's cohesion levels and whether rocks and gravel of the right size can be found at the site."

Also at Carnegie Mellon, Whittaker is directing the development of Astrobotic's first lunar robot, which has been undergoing field trials for several months. The company's first mission, to win the $20 million Google Lunar X prize by visiting the Apollo 11 landing site and transmitting high-definition video to Earth, is set for December 2010.

Details of the study and lunar imagery are available at

More astounding new detail from LOIRP

This partially restored scan from Lunar Orbiter 3
is perhaps the only
unambiguous image from that series
showing an artifact of what was, at the time still-limited
human activity America's first lunar lander Surveyor 1

The above image is only preliminary restoration of the United States Lunar Orbiter series, which ran concurrent to the Surveyor lander program from 1966 to 1968. It is, however, an image of the first American lander still patiently situated, we hope, in the northeastern Flamsteed Ring in the Oceanus Procellarum. The preliminary restoration was a herculean labor accomplished at the Lunar and Planetary Science Institute with a digital camera, with the help of Charles Byrne.

Now a restoration Byrne very much wanted to see happen is giving us exciting news of their now-daily progress.

Dennis Wingo reported earlier this week an astounding breakthrough in the work underway by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project. On Wednesday, further progress was demonstrated and the video below were released on the LOIRP "Moonviews" website, showing the actual work underway, bringing unprecedented boulder-sized resolution "framelet by framelet" by the team, making out of the Orbiter mission archives an entirely new mission, producing detail rivaling what Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter investigators hope to accomplish using real-time imagery, rather than photography developed on-board the Orbiters and technology forty years more advanced.

We hope they can get to a framlet from LOIII-194H3 as soon as possible, but, in the meantime, we're astounded, and loving it!

This video shows one of the tape drives retrieving a Lunar Orbiter II image on 24 February 2009. Video: LOIRP.

NASA Goddard Brings the Moon to Earth

(NASA) - This winter the television production team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. shrank the moon down to a six-foot globe and put it on display in their Visitor Center. They’ve made a new, fully spherical short film called “Return to the Moon”. Designed expressly for the Science On a Sphere platform, it opens in science museums and elsewhere around the country on February 27.

“Return to the Moon” takes imagery and data sets from the Apollo, Clementine, and other missions and projects them on a six-foot sphere. The results give the startling impression of the moon hanging magically in the center of darkened theaters. During the five-minute film, viewers will witness NASA’s legacy of lunar exploration and come to understand the rationale for the Agency’s ambitious plans to return to the moon, beginning with a robotic mission called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter or LRO.

Both LRO and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS mission are featured in the new project. The LRO spacecraft will provide scientists with detailed maps of the lunar surface and enhance our understanding of the moon’s topography, lighting conditions, mineralogical composition and natural resources. LRO will spend at least one year in low polar orbit around the moon, collecting detailed information about the lunar environment and providing key data sets to enable a human return to the moon. The lunar orbiter is managed by NASA Goddard. LCROSS, managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. will impact the lunar surface in its search for water ice.

The LRO/LCROSS mission is scheduled to launch Spring 2009.

Science On a Sphere is an exciting new projection technology developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “Return to the Moon” is the latest in a series of films from the Goddard Television team, employing this system, using novel techniques and technology of its own for making spherical movies. Goddard released the world’s first major spherical film in 2006 called “Footprints.”

“Spherical filmmaking brings the moon and planetary science down to Earth,” said Michael Starobin of Goddard Television, producer for Return to the Moon. “The subject is often difficult to relate to because the scale is so large or out of context with people’s lives. However, when you project it on a sphere, people suddenly understand the size of regional events while also comprehending the global connections of the science being introduced. Pure data falls flat, but spherical films make planets approachable.”

According to Starobin, there are many ways to project data onto a sphere. The technique he and his colleagues use take a massive images – many times larger than HDTV pictures– and slice them into four sections. Each section is then sent to one of four projectors arranged around the spherical movie screen. A central computer coordinates with dedicated computers at each projector to blend the sections into a seamless image that wraps completely around the sphere.

“Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio takes enormous, highly-technical data sets from various NASA missions and turns them into stunning imagery, while the Goddard Television team takes complex scientific subjects and translates them into succinct, compelling features. Just as NASA prides itself at pushing back the boundaries of exploration, we take pride in inventing new ways to communicate the results of that exploration,” said Starobin.

”Return to the Moon” opens around the country on February 27.

China opens bidding on moon probe technology

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will open competitive bidding so that domestic schools and institutions can help build crucial parts of the country's moon exploration craft, an official newspaper said on Wednesday.

In October 2003, China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket, after the former Soviet Union and the United States. And the government has made expanding the nation's presence in space, and eventually reaching the moon, a cornerstone of its bid to rise as a technological power.

But the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense has decided contributions from the country's universities, institutes and other "qualified" institutions are needed for crucial parts of the lunar effort, which aims to put an unmanned buggy on the moon by 2012, the Guangming Daily reported.

"Our country's lunar exploration research and development project will be opened to all of society, bringing in a competitive mechanism," the report said, citing an unnamed administration official.

The report did not say whether listed companies could also bid to help build the technology, which includes a landing vehicle and moon explorer. And it did not suggest that bidding would be open to foreign entities.

The lunar effort had more than 90 elements of "key technology" that must be mastered, the report said.
Read the Reuters report HERE.

Should ignorance be answered or ignored?

Jerry DeGroot, author of Dark Side of the Moon: The Magnificent Madness of the American Lunar Quest has taken immediate advantage of the loss of the CO2 monitoring satellite, which failed after launch from Vandenberg early Wednesday, to pump up publicity for a new book expressing contempt for lunar exploration, calling it a form of madness and describing the Moon as a "worthless rock."

If you're interested, you can read his commentary, and perhaps leave your own by way of the Telegraph, HERE.

Frankly, I'm not at all certain I wish to have this argument any longer. Many of us have been answering these same complaints for forty years. In the years since Clementine, Lunar Prospector, until today, when three nations are orbiting enduring lunar orbiters and we anxiously await our LRO-LCROSS, it is likely we have learned more about the Moon than at anytime since the years immediately after the Apollo Era.

At the heart of the argument is the old saw of Zero-Sum theory, one that doesn't hold water anymore, even if you do believe in that discredited economic model. Apparently, we are to wait until the Federation of Planets and Starfleet are firmly established, and hunger is eradicated, in short all the ills of mankind, whether chosen or not, are cured forever before space exploration, development or travel can become the luxury DeGroot believes it to be.

The time has come for those who have come to understand dimly or starkly the essential place of our Moon to our future as a species, who have read and understood the National Academies' Scientific Context for the Exploration of the Moon (2007), to speak out loud and confidently against ridiculous views like those of DeGroot.

For me, whether NASA is funded in this area or not, the Moon is the Rosetta Stone of the Solar System and at least as worthy of study as Antarctica, for example. Survival there is essential to survival further down the line, past my lifetime, and I intend to get there, or to, at the very least, study her and try to understand her, for the sake of helping others get there, with or without NASA.

DeGroot's opinions about NASA are well and good, but commercial space development will one day take us beyond where it is today as it has from where it was in the recent past. India, China, Japan, Russia, the ESA and Dr. Harrison Schmitt and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin have not been shy about how the world economy can grow here and everywhere in the world using resources from the Moon.

Beyond endangering NASA's present, methodical long-term planning, allowing his opinion to go without challenge can endanger Open Skies.

Stephanie Wilson to discuss Shuttle experience at University of Texas

NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson, an engineering alumnus who is the second black woman to have flown in space, will speak on her shuttle experiences. The title of her speech is "Space Construction of the International Space Station: A Personal Journey," from 2-3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26

The talk with take place at theApplied Computational Engineering and Sciences Building (ACES) Avaya Auditorium at The University of Texas at Austin. A campus map can be found online.

Wilson's talk will focus on her experiences as a veteran of two space flights (STS-121 in 2006 and STS-120 in 2007), totaling 28 days in orbit. She also is assigned to the crew of STS-131 scheduled for launch February 2010.

During STS-121, the Space Shuttle Discovery crew tested new equipment and procedures that increase the safety of space shuttles and repaired a rail car on the International Space Station. Wilson supported robotic arm operations for vehicle inspection, multi-purpose logistics module installation and was responsible for the transfer of more than 28,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the space station.

For STS-120, the crew delivered the Node 2 module named Harmony to ISS, allowing future international laboratories to be added to the space station. The crew also conducted spacewalks to repair the station's solar array.After her talk, Wilson will present to university faculty a school banner that flew with her aboard STS-121.

Wilson's NASA bio is online.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Survey: Space exploration still important

View of Earth perpetually overhead, as photographed behind Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle, July 21, 1969 (NASA - AS11-40-5924)

Most U.S. residents see the value in the country’s space program, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Coalition for Space Exploration.

The survey, conducted in mid-January, measured the public’s perceived value of the program, and then re-measured it after presenting respondents with basic facts regarding NASA’s economic impact and technological spin-offs.

Prior to learning basic facts about the space program, 77 percent of respondents said the program was a source of technological innovation and advancement; 73 percent thought consumer product development was based on technology used for space exploration; and 69 percent said the program inspired students to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

However, respondents’ support of the program jumped to 96 percent from 88 percent after hearing basic facts such as, the aerospace industry employs 500,000 people or that aerospace industry sales of more than $204 billion in 2008 account for nearly 2 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.

“We are pleased to see that the public clearly backs a well-rounded U.S. space exploration program,” Dean Acosta, chairman of the Coalition’s public affairs team, in a statement. “When combined with President Obama’s space policy that calls for the establishment of a robust and balanced civilian space program, it is vital that Washington leaders allow for and support appropriate funding for NASA.”

When told NASA currently receives less than 1 percent of the federal budget, 63 percent were “surprised” to learn the funding was that low.

The Houston-based Coalition for Space Exploration is a group of space industry businesses and advocacy groups that collaborate to educate and inform the public and U.S. Congress on the value and benefits of space exploration.

The complete survey report and data are available online at

Houston Business Journal

FBI raids nuclear space power institute

Gainesville, Florida - A nuclear space power institute at the University of Florida has been raided by the FBI.

Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Rhew in Tallahassee says search warrants were served at the university's Innovative Nuclear Space Power and Propulsion Institute. University of Florida spokesman Steve Orlando says the FBI was in the office of professor Samim Anghaie, the Iranian-born director of the institute.

Rhew would not comment on the investigation but did say no arrest warrants have been issued. Orlando says the university is cooperating with the investigation and Anghaie's employment status is being reviewed.

Tampa Bay

JAXA releases time-lapse of Reverse-Penumbra

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) successfully took moving images of the precise Earth rise moment when the Earth looked like a diamond ring using the onboard high definition camera (HDTV) of the lunar explorer "KAGUYA" (SELENE) on February 10, 2009 (Japan Standard Time, all the following dates and times are Japan Standard Time.)

The moment came when a penumbral lunar eclipse occurred and sunlight was covered by the Earth. During that time, since the view of the Sun from the KAGUYA was mostly covered by the Earth, the KAGUYA observed that the Earth looked like a diamond ring. This is the first time that this phenomenon was shot from the Moon.

The images were shot by the HDTV onboard the KAGUYA for space-use developing by NHK. The moving images were received at JAXA and processed at NHK.

* A penumbral lunar eclipse is a phenomenon in which the Sun, Earth and Moon line up in tandem, hence the Moon is in the Earth's penumbra, or, when you look from the Moon, the Sun is partially covered by the Earth (partial eclipse.) During this phenomenon, the volume of sunlight to the Moon decreases, and the Moon's surface looks darker when you look at the Moon from the Earth. The KAGUYA, which circles around the Moon on its polar orbit, can witness this phenomenon only twice a year at most, thus it was very valuable to capture the moving images of the phenomenon from the KAGUYA.

The Earth by the HDTV (Tele-camera) during the penumbral lunar eclipse (480x270px)

Figure 1 Image of the Earth by the HDTV (Tele-camera) during the penumbral lunar eclipse

This still image was a cutout from the moving images taken by the onboard HDTV (tele-camera) of the KAGUYA (SELENE) on February 10, 2009.

The bright part on the lower right side is the Sun and the black area surrounded by the thin light ring is the Earth. The red dotted line shows the Moon's surface. Most of the Sun is covered by the Earth and the Moon's surface.

The contour of the Earth is shining in a ring shape because of the atmosphere. It scatters in the atmosphere in the periphery of the Earth, and a part of the sunlight reaches the Moon. The Earth's rim looks like a blue ring from the Moon since it is thought that the scattering sunlight with blue color light occurs easily because of the Earth's atmosphere.

Figure 2 Sequence images of the Earth by the HDTV (Tele-camera) during the penumbral lunar eclipse

The KAGUYA captured the moving image of the Earth and the Sun gradually rising from the Moon's surface. The above sequence of images is a cutout from the moving image to show the rising process. The image on the far left is just after the Earth rise from the Moon's surface. It took about 47 seconds to film from the left to the right when the Sun came out from the Moon's surface and the diamond ring appeared.

Figure 3 Positions of the KAGUYA, Moon, Earth and Sun when images of the Earth-rise during the penumbral lunar eclipse

Public Affairs Department, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Early approval for ISRO manned spaceflight

Preliminary Chandrayaan 1 Terrain Camera image
of Coulomb B rim, November 2008

Mayur Maheshwari reports to the Space Generation Group "The Planning Commission has approved the Rs 12,400-crore manned space project of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The mission is scheduled for launch by 2015.

"We had a good meeting. The general inference is that ISRO has done an expert job and it needs to be supported. The Planning Commission will support it," said Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, after a two-hour meeting last week with top ISRO scientists and Department of Space officials.

The manned mission would be executed in two phases, with an unmanned flight in 2013-14 scheduled for the first phase, and a two-man space mission to be launched in the second stage in 2014-15.

The Rs 12,400-core expenditure would include setting up long-term facilities required for the space mission including the vehicle and the infrastructure. K Radhakrishnan, Space Commission member and director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, said ISRO wanted to secure formal approval of the plan panel for the project to take off.

"We intend to put two persons in the vehicle and launch them into space for seven days in an orbit of 275 km," said K Radhakrishnan, Space Commission member and director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.

As reported earlier, the manned mission will most likely be put into orbit by a manned-rated version the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dual Expander Cycle Rocket Engine with an Intermediate Closed-cycle Heat Exchanger

A dual expander cycle (DEC) rocket engine with an intermediate closed-cycle heat exchanger is provided.

A conventional DEC rocket engine has a closed-cycle heat exchanger thermally coupled thereto. The heat exchanger utilizes heat extracted from the engine's fuel circuit to drive the engine's oxidizer turbomachinery.

Download the Study HERE.

Ionic Liquids as Hypergolic Fuels

After seminal work presented a decade ago, ionic liquids (IL) have now received a lot of attention as energetic materials for propellant applications.1–3 In bipropellant rocket engines, it is desirable to achieve ignition by means of a hypergolic reaction and therefore to minimize system complexity. Hypergolic bipropellants are defined as fuel and oxidizer combinations that, upon contact, chemically react and release enough heat to spontaneously ignite, eliminating the need for an additional ignition source. This also makes them highly reliable for spacecraft and satellites, which need to fire their rocket engines hundreds or even thousands of times during their lifetime.

Unfortunately, no reliable a priori method for prediction of hypergolicity for fuel-oxidizer pairs is available today. Here, we report the first ILs to manifest hypergolic ignition.

The initial “hunting for the hypergol”, as John Clark entitled one of the chapters in his book, Ignition!, took place mainly during World War II.4 At that time, such toxic systems as “CStoff” (a mixture of N2H4 ·H2O, methanol, and water) and others consisting of triethyl amine, aniline, toluidine, xylidine, and N-methyl aniline were developed. Today, environmental and health concerns are becoming more and more pressing in the propellant world. Nevertheless, hydrazine and its methylated derivatives are still the state-of-the-art fuels for bipropellant applications. Most of the problems handling hydrazine and its derivatives are related to their volatility, because they are carcinogenic vapor toxins. For these reasons, it is exceedingly attractive to replace hydrazine with ILs, which are regarded as paragons of environmental friendliness, green chemistry, and low vapor toxicity.

Download the Study HERE.

Method and associated apparatus for capturing, servicing and de-orbiting earth satellites using robotics

This invention is a method and supporting apparatus for autonomously capturing, servicing and de-orbiting a free-flying spacecraft, such as a satellite, using robotics.

The capture of the spacecraft includes the steps of optically seeking and ranging the satellite using LIDAR; and matching tumble rates, rendezvousing and berthing with the satellite. Servicing of the spacecraft may be done using supervised autonomy, which is allowing a robot to execute a sequence of instructions without intervention from a remote human-occupied location. These instructions may be packaged at the remote station in a script and uplinked to the robot for execution upon remote command giving authority to proceed. Alternately, the instructions may be generated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) logic on-board the robot.

In either case, the remote operator maintains the ability to abort an instruction or script at any time, as well as the ability to intervene using manual override to teleoperate the robot.In one embodiment, a vehicle used for carrying out the method of this invention comprises an ejection module, which includes the robot, and a de-orbit module. Once servicing is completed by the robot, the ejection module separates from the de-orbit module, leaving the de-orbit module attached to the satellite for de-orbiting the same at a future time. Upon separation, the ejection module can either de-orbit itself or rendezvous with another satellite for servicing.

The ability to de-orbit a spacecraft further allows the opportunity to direct the landing of the spent satellite in a safe location away from population centers, such as the ocean.

Download the Study HERE.

New ablation shield design patented

A convex shell structure for enhanced aerodynamic performance and/or reduced heat transfer requirements for a space vehicle that re-enters an atmosphere. The structure has a fore-body, an aft-body, a longitudinal axis and a transverse cross sectional shape, projected on a plane containing the longitudinal axis, that includes: first and second linear segments, smoothly joined at a first end of each the first and second linear segments to an end of a third linear segment by respective first and second curvilinear segments; and a fourth linear segment, joined to a second end of each of the first and second segments by curvilinear segments, including first and second ellipses having unequal ellipse parameters. The cross sectional shape is non-symmetric about the longitudinal axis. The fourth linear segment can be replaced by a sum of one or more polynomials, trigonometric functions or other functions satisfying certain constraints.

Comparisons with Apollo HERE.

Monday, February 23, 2009

LCROSS shepherd arrives at the Cape

Northrum Grumman's LCROSS Shepherd vehicles, that will guide, record, and follow the Centaur impactor into it's eventual target, while hundreds of thousands peer through devices, both passive and amplified a quarter million miles away, has arrived at Kennedy Space Center, shown here at the Astrotech payload processing facility. After mating with it's co-passenger, the equally eagerly anticipated Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter, the Atlas-Centaur boost still has an official launch opportunity no earlier than April 24.

Few of von Braun's team are left to tell the story

The Huntsville Times

Archivists work to save papers and recordings

Even rocket men can't outrace the clock.

With the passing of Konrad Dannenberg last week, only a few members of Wernher von Braun's original team of German rocket scientists are still alive.

Hans Fichtner, Dieter Grau, Heinz Hilten, Oscar Holderer and Walter Jacobi are now approaching 100. But at the end of World War II, they were among the 118 young men developing the German rocket program who surrendered to the U.S. Army in "Operation Paperclip."

They came to work in the United States missile program and, later, helped make Huntsville the Rocket City.

The accomplishments of the von Braun team members here - especially the landing of man on the moon - will live on as part of history. Their individual achievements are also recorded in the thousands of patents they were awarded and technical articles they published over the decades.

And librarians and historians in Huntsville are working to make sure the papers, photographs, recordings and memories of these space pioneers and their years of work here, at the nucleus of the U.S. space program, are available for the generations to come.

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is the well-known home of many von Braun manuscripts and mementos, but archivist Irene Willhite said the center has also been collecting material from members of his team.

Read the story HERE.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sooners in Space

Because I owe several bloodlines, and most of those who share my last name, with Oklahoma, by way of both voluntary emigration and forced marches (like the Trail of Tears, on my mother's side), I would be remiss not to join Enid News and Eagle in spotlighting what was probably filler, in their printed edition. It is a list of Oklahoma's sons and daughters who have traveled into Earth orbit.

(I've actually met General Stafford, which was an unexpected treat. It was on Capitol Hill when he attended a reception for my one-time employer, the majority leader of the House. Though I was much younger, I was suddenly fifteen years younger and a ten-year-old in the unseemly casual presence of one of my superheroes. I had no idea he had long been a friend of my father's, just as was Mike Collins, Frank Borman and Scott Crossfield.

Few remember "almost," and as the final dress rehearsal for the first Moon landing, General Stafford had piloted the Apollo 10 lunar module to the edge of terminal descent over the Moon, perhaps nine miles above the surface before jettisoning the descent stage and firing the ascent stage back into lunar orbit and an eventual rendezvous with the command module. He and lunar module pilot Captain Gene Cernan became a couple of almosts. General Stafford has the distinction of being the man who came closest to landing on the Moon without ever setting foot there. His companion, of course, would eventually lost this distinction by commanding Apollo 17 into its delicate landing at Taurus-Littrow three years later. (The other among the almosts is perhaps the most poignant story of Jim Lovell, who with Borman and Bill Anders, became the first Humans to visit the Moon's vicinity and, as commander of Apollo 13, of course would barely survive the free-return trajectory using the lifeboat of a recast lunar module he did not have with him on Apollo 8).

When Stafford and Cernan dropped the descent stage and fired up the ascent stage, after hovering for a brief moment as dead weight in freefall over the Moon below, those of us paying attention on Earth had our teeth set on edge when the crew experienced a violent shaking, what Stafford characterized as "wild gyrations" before smoothing out its boost back to low lunar orbit.

"I don't know what the hell that was," Stafford was heard to say, on the Big Loop, literally shaken. A few people were later upset, though far more complained when Borman, Lovell and Anders read from Genesis, from lunar orbit, on-board Apollo 8, Christmas Eve 1968.

So, at the reception, catching General Stafford alone, in his Full Bird U.S. Air Force uniform, I introduced myself not as a congressional aide but as a formally younger fan who thanked him for his service, forcefully remembered his command of Apollo 10, and of Apollo-Soyuz in 1975, and said to him, when he was hanging over the Sea of Tranquility and experienced those "wild gyrations" I would have let fly with far more than just a few formally unprintable words.

His reaction was an inscrutable smile I would never forget. I worried for sometime whether I had irritated him somehow, and, of course, I probably had. Like all fans, I had remembered him for what was important to me, as though it were a shared intimacy between friends. Of course, it was nothing of the kind. Like all those of my heroes of the Apollo Era, all the work with Alexi Leonov, another of my heroes, preparing for Apollo-Soyuz, his work on Gemini, the chance at experiencing far more than the Gap, then still underway, between his last mission and the long-delayed Shuttle, there was other things on his mind than being remembered by some political hack on the Hill for a single moment of being an "almost," which was certainly an experience only he and Captain Cernan had ever really "shared."

Television shrinks life to the size of the field of view through a keyhole and creates false familiarity. And if familiarity breeds contempt, then it must in part be contempt, in a way, all by itself.

And here, not far from my ancestors homelands, are Enid's catalog of Oklahomans who have traveled into Space.

So far there have been seven astronauts from Oklahoma who have made a major impact on the space program.

• JOHN B. HARRINGTON is of Chickasaw descent. Though born Sept. 14, 1958, in Wetumka, he grew up in Colorado Springs, Colo. He joined NASA in August 1996 and trained as a mission specialist. He flew the space shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station Nov. 23 to Dec. 7, 2002, and logged more than 330 hours in space including 3 EVAs (extra vehicular activities). He retired from the Navy and NASA in 2005.

• SHANNON LUCID was born in Shanghai, China, but grew up in Bethany and considers it to be home. She earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the University of Oklahoma and master’s and doctorate degrees in biochemistry from OU. She served six months on Russia’s space station Mir and has made five space flights. She was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the only woman so far to receive that award.

• GORDON COOPER was born in Shawnee and was one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts. Before he joined NASA, he flew fighter planes in Germany and then served as a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He flew the Mercury capsule in May 1963 and was on Gemini 5’s eight-day, 120-orbit flight. He died in 2004 at the age of 77.

• LT. GENERAL THOMAS P. STAFFORD was raised in Weatherford. He was selected as part of the second group of NASA astronauts in 1962. He served on Gemini VI in December 1965, Gemini IX in June 1966, Apollo 10 in May 1969, when he orbited the moon, and in 1975, on the Apollo-Soyuz test project.

• STEWART ROOSA grew up in Claremore and attended Oklahoma State University and the University of Arizona. He went to the moon on Apollo 14. While Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepherd explored the surface of the moon, Roosa orbited it 33 times. He was the backup command module pilot for Apollo 16 and 17, and by crew rotation, would have been the pilot of Apollo 21 if it had not been cancelled. He died at age 61 of pancreatitis and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

• WILLIAM R. POGUE is of Choctaw descent and grew up in Okemah. He was pilot of Skylab 4, which was in space for 84 days and made 1,214 orbits of the earth.

• Last, but not least, is Enid’s own OWEN K. GARRIOTT. Garriott served 60 days onboard Skylab 3 in 1973 and 10 days aboard Spacelab 1 in 1983.

Hopefully there will be many more men and women from Oklahoma serving in space exploration in the years to come.

Information provided by Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center.

Grand Space Development strategy headlined by Edwin Aldrin

A "Unified Space Vision," headlined by Colonel Edwin Aldrin, and purported to be a comprehensive vision of "Sustainable Space Exploration and Space Development" has been posted to The Space Movement blog maintained by Karen Shea of Abandon Reality Photography, and it can be read in its entirety, HERE.

The Abstract to the "study" by Aldrin, Hsu and Cox is reproduced as follows:

"This paper presents and recommends a strategic and Unified Space Vision (USV) for comprehensive human space exploration and space development endeavors in the 21st century, through extensive analysis of complex space policy issues, to the new U.S. Administration, the NASA transition team and the broad domestic and international community. The proposed USV is a new paradigm of space policy that aims to rectify or replace the current Vision for Space Exploration (VSE), including its implementation plan, which has been pursued via the NASA Constellation program since its announcement by George Bush in early 2004. We strongly believe that if adequately adopted, the USV should serve the long-term economic, diplomatic and exploration interests of this nation and others around the globe."

On first read, the work is far too flattering of the new administration and overly critical of the Bush administration, which, for all its faults, was at least the first administration since John Kennedy's to make any real attempt to give a focus to NASA, albeit after the Columbia disaster.

In short, this study is stained with the dogma and poor understanding of basic American politics that one reads in a badly written political manifesto. It is hardly the science study it pretends to be, including in those areas where I found myself in strong agreement with the authors.

As such, it was perhaps thought necessary to take such an approach in covering such a broad field for an audience of policy makers. As a former policy maker, however, I know the secret to longevity is to be skeptical of your own press releases.

It was refreshing to read ideas regarding the institutional flaws, borne of NASA's history and orthodoxy, always in need of reform, and also of endorsements of simple but universally hoped for concepts as on-orbit cryogenic refueling depots, which seem simple enough but are difficult. and dangerous to build, unnecessarily.

The idea of Space Development fostered on a second track, while addressing ITAR concerns for NASA as that agency devotes itself to exploration is interesting.

That Space Travel by nations fosters peace has been long acknowledged, though it may not be as well-known in the present administration.

Then there's this particularly insulting part, under Part 2, Section 5, where we are taught, "The current thrust of the Bush VSE to return humans to the Moon (and to build a costly lunar post without international participation and support) lacks political resonance. The American public and its political constituency in the U.S. congress is largely uninterested in supporting such a costly Apollo-all-over-again national program: “Been there, done that” rules apply. As a result, after receiving less than adequate funding from the Administration that proposed it, the Bush Vision for Space Exploration is unlikely to get more support from any new Administration, much less a chance of getting continued support from an Administration (like President Obama’s) that is largely surrounded by visionaries and leaders with strategic and intellectual strength."

This paragraph is hardly worthy of Colonel Aldrin, as it reads as though written by a campaign volunteer.

Congress, not the President, is entrusted with the power of the purse, and NASA is (and always has been) a creature of Congress.

I cannot believe that Colonel Aldrin could have read the National Academies' Scientific Context for the Exploration of the Moon.

If he had, of course, it is unlikely he would have allowed his name to be attached to this dismissal of the essential role the Moon must play in the long-term future of Space travel, exploration, or its development (or whatever it is you want to call the long-term survival of the species).

It is certain, for example, that India, China and Russia are each aware their own future economic development beyond 2050 may well depend on harvesting lunar resources literally under Colonel Aldrin's feet forty years ago.

The Moon is the Rosetta Stone of the Solar System, and for many other reasons, all outlined in true scientific work, we have hardly scratched its surface. Colonel Aldrin may have "been there, done that," but most of us have not.

Finally, a tale-tell way of knowing when a writer is in the grip of even a mild case of Bush Derangement Syndrome is the repeated use of the former president's last name by itself, as an epithet. Thus, the final sentence in this part of the work is just plain intellectually insulting flattery, playing to supposed prejudices the Obama White House is certain to see through as though transparent.

Edwin Aldrin is my hero, God love him.

But, an otherwise fine piece of work, not without flaws, became unnecessarily divisive by his allowance of his name to be attached to the manifestly sophomoric flattery introduced in this paragraph.

(I'll take Dr. Schmitt's intellectual strength over Colonel Aldrin's any day of the week. But the wisest move is not to offer anyone that kind of choice. The last election is over, but there's going to be another one in just 21 months.)

Tuskegee Airman Breaks New Barriers – In Space

Col. Ralph Smith, president of the Western Region of the Tuskegee Airmen, left, and Le Roy Gillead. - Doug Graham Wall St. Journal

By Andy Pasztor

LOS ANGELES – Four months shy of his 90th birthday, Le Roy Gillead is about to become an improbable player in the latest space race.

XCOR Aerospace, a startup based in Mojave, Ca., is offering Mr, Gillead, a World War II aviator who was a member of the fabled Tuskegee Airmen, a free trip to briefly experience the thrill of zero gravity. XCOR made the announcement that Mr. Gillead would be among its first passengers during a ceremony Saturday honoring the Tuskegee group of pioneering African American aviators.

Read the story HERE.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

SpaceX engine test touches off fire

Falcon 9 stage, cowling down
SpaceX is conducting an internal investigation over what caused a fuel fire at its McGregor testing facility Thursday night. The fire started around 8 p.m. Thursday during routine testing of a Merlin 1 C rocket engine, said SpaceX Spokeswoman Lauren Dreyer.

Hat tip to Parabolic Arc HERE.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Anniversary of Ranger 8

Candidate for the most heavily traveled location on the Moon so far, the south-southwest corner of the Sea of Tranquillity as seen by the HDTV camera on-board the lunar orbiter KAGUYA in 2008. Ranger 8 arrived first, impacting north of the crater subsequently named after Neil Armstrong, followed by Surveyor 5 in September 1967 and finally by Armstrong and Apollo 11 lunar module pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin forty years ago this July.

"Lunar Mark" Tillotson, continuing his daily Today in Astronomy celebration of the IYA2009, today highlights February 20 as the 44th anniversary of the arrival of Ranger 8, impacting the southwest Mare Tranquillitatis 73 kilometers northeast of the eventual landing site of Apollo 11, four years later.
Mark explains it all HERE.

ESA funds SKYLON Spaceplane propulsion

The notion of a truly reusable Single-Stage-To-Orbit "spaceplane" enjoyed by millions in the remarkable OrbiterSim simulation engine released by Dr. Martin Schweiger is one step closer to reality. The European Space Agency and British government have given official support to the "revolutionary propulsion technology" designed by UK-based Reaction Engines LTD .

REL has been awarded a one million euro contract by ESA for “Experimental Investigation of Key Technologies for a Turbine Based Combined Airbreather Rocket Engine." The ESA contract contributes towards a total program of almost £6 million.

ESA’s funding for the project is provided via subscriptions by the British National Space Centre partnership with two technology programs of the ESA – the Technology Research Programme (TRP) and the General Support Technology Programme (GSTP).

"The British National Space Centre (BNSC) is at the heart of UK efforts to explore and exploit space. BNSC is a partnership of seven Government Departments, two Research Councils, the Met Office and the Technology Strategy Board. It coordinates UK civil space activities and represents the UK at the European Space Agency," according to the REL press release.

REL’s partners in this programme are EADS Astrium at Ottobrun, Germany; DLR (Deutsches Zentrum fűr Luft- und Raumfahrt) in Lampoldhausen, Germany; and the University of Bristol, England.

More on the SKYLON and SABRE HERE.

UNT astronomers find samples of "fireball"

A week ago, following news of twin expanding debris clouds, left over from the Cosmos-Iridium satellite collision over Siberia, in an apparent coincidence, a meteor shattered in the upper atmosphere and quickly expanded into a daylight fireball witnessed by thousands from north to south central Texas. Such events are more common than is generally known, but increased population density and the proliferation of digital camera devices speed "news" of such events, spread by dazzled witnesses. Fortunately, cameras capturing such an event are very useful in locating where the burned out remains of meteorites can then be located and collected.

Astronomers at the University of North Texas in Denton traced through the countryside south of Dallas-Fort Worth during the past week, along with private collectors, and claim to have collected "pecan-sized" remnants.

Regina L. Burns of has the Story.

Breakthrough in Lunar Orbiter photograph remastering

A relatively bright (newer) crater amidst the Marius Hills (@303.58 E 13.98 N) from Lunar Orbiter V - frame 214 (LOV-214) as seen in a familiar medium resolution reproduction (lower center of inset) illustrates an immediate effect of the breakthrough reported February 19, resolving 40 year-old recorded telemetry from the fifth and final in the Orbiter series in 1968. The Orbiter data has become an entirely new mission, boulders and rich detail easily within the half-meter resolution promised from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter later this year. Lunar Orbiter Digitization Project 2009.

Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP)
Progress Report 19 February 2009
To: LOIRP Status
From: Dennis Wingo
Subject: Progress Report, Milestone ALERT!
Folks Major milestones to report!


We have had a major milestone accomplished (well 98% of the way there).

Read the amazing progress report from MOONVIEWS HERE.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lunar and Planetary Institute 2009 Field-Based Volcanism Workshop

“The Heat from Within Earthly Insights into Planetary Volcanism,” a NASA-sponsored workshop for educators, will be held July 12-19, 2009. Spend the week investigating different types of volcanoes in the Bend and Crater Lake regions of Oregon. Contrast these Earth-based analogs with volcanic features on Mars, the moon, Venus, and even the moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune! From these field experiences and classroom exercises, participants will build an understanding of the planetary processes that produce volcanoes and of the patterns of volcanism on planets in our solar system.

The experience will be divided between the field and lab, where participants work with classroom-tested, hands-on, inquiry-based activities and resources that can be used to enhance Earth and space science teaching in the classroom. Participants receive lesson plans, supporting resources and presentations. A limited number of grants are available to cover registration.

Applications are due April 7, 2009. Participants will be notified of their acceptance by April 14, 2009.

For more information about the workshop and to submit an application online, visit

New Simulation of Cosmos-Iridium Debris

Watch the University of Southampton simulation »

Into Space: Fred Haise lecture series in Alabama

Fred Haise, Lunar Module pilot on the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, opens a lecture series tonight. - Mary Perez -

Fred Haise didn’t set out to be a pilot or go to space.

His first job was delivering The Daily Herald, the predecessor to the Sun Herald, on his bicycle and then on a motor scooter.

He later became a cub reporter and when he graduated from Biloxi High School at 16, he went to what is now the Perkinston campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to become a journalist.

Rather than risk being drafted during the Korean War, he enlisted to continue his studies and became a pilot instead of a reporter — a career move that changed the course of his life and thrust him into the national spotlight.

At 36, when he was supposed to be the sixth man to walk on the moon, the world watched as he and his fellow Apollo 13 astronauts, James Lovell and John Swigert, using ingenuity and slide rules, figured how to get their ailing spacecraft safely home. Their story was made into a popular movie, “Apollo 13,” starring Bill Paxton as Haise. “I didn’t look at myself as a public figure,” said Haise, who was awarded the Presidential Medal for Freedom in 1970 and was inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor.

He will talk about some of his experiences tonight during this year’s first program in the Issues + Answers Lecture Series, sponsored by USM Gulf Coast College of Science and Technology and the Sun Herald. Admission is free.

A month after his Apollo 13 mission in May 1970, Haise was welcomed home to Biloxi with one of the biggest parades in the city’s history and a ceremony to rename Church Street where he lived to Haise Street.

Three years later, he had a second brush with fate while flying a World War II airplane used in the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora.” The engine quit and on landing the plane flipped. Haise was burned over 70 percent of his body. He wouldn’t let doctors put in any metal pins or plates so he could continue to fly.

He did fly again, becoming the first to fly the space shuttle Enterprise off the back of a Boeing 747 airplane and land it safely.

“I didn’t just fly the Enterprise,” he said, but was involved in the design and development of the space shuttle.

After retiring from NASA, he was vice president of space programs at Grumman Aerospace Corporation.

“Some people look at it as I had trouble holding a job,” he joked about his career.

Haise said that it didn’t seem that incredible that a Biloxi boy was on his way to the moon. “It was just another step in that trail in my aviation experience,” he said.

Today, Haise lives in Houston with his wife, Patt, and has a second home in Gautier. He is a board member of the Infinity Science Center and a fundraising campaign — $2 Our Hero — was named in his honor to raise the $4 million that is still needed to build the center in Hancock County.

While he’s on the Coast, Haise will attend three fundraising events for Infinity and one in Hattiesburg for the Boy Scouts’ Pine Burr Council.

“As a boy, I was in the Pine Burr Council Troop 212, Dan Beard Patrol in Biloxi,” said Haise. “My scoutmaster was E.P. Wilkes, the original founder of the Biloxi/Gulfport Daily Herald.”

He never forgot where he came from and Haise anticipates he will see many people he knows in the crowd tonight.

The university invites speakers who have a unique look at different subjects, said USM spokesperson Charmaine Williams Schermund. Haise will share his vision for the nation’s space program and the impact the industry has had on the quality of American life.

Bill Moore - New Chief at KSC Visitors Center

New chief pushes space center's 'real stuff ' (And 700 Employees!)

William Moore began his new duties as chief operating officer of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex this month.

The 57-year-old Atlanta native replaced Dan LeBlanc, who resigned in October after more than 12 years at the complex, the last six as COO. LeBlanc's strong marketing and guidance is credited with pushing the facility to the forefront of Central Florida destinations.

The 42-year-old attraction, built as a means for NASA astronauts' and employees' families to view space center operations, draws more than 1.5 visitors annually.

Moore comes from the Independence Visitor Center in Philadelphia, which displays the historic Liberty Bell. He will now oversee some 700 employees at the visitor center.

In an interview Wednesday, Moore talked about the future challenges and current pleasures of his new job.

QUESTION: What are the visitor center's strengths in the poor economy, and how will you build on them?

ANSWER: This is an absolutely fascinating place and a wonderful resource, and it can tell the NASA story really, really well to people around the world.

Our strengths are that we have real history. This is the history of America's space program.

Read the Interview in FLORIDA TODAY

Jeff Foust - Space Politics

As I know I've mentioned before, Jeff Foust is one of the most prolific and useful contributors to the wider conversation about Space Exploration happening on the Internet. He's never one to Cry Wolf, so, generally speaking, when Jeff write, we read it.

A short time ago Jeff posted his own perspective of recent speculations concerning the time being taken by the new administration to pick a successor to Michael Griffin as NASA administrator:

Lane on his report and the NASA administrator search

Last week I noted here the mixed reception from former astronauts to a the recent policy paper by George Abbey and Neal Lane, one that proposed foregoing a return to the Moon in favor of more of an emphasis on energy and environment research, as well as long-term planning for missions to near Earth objects. What other response has that report generated?

I had an opportunity last weekend at the AAAS conference in Chicago to ask Lane, after a panel session about the future of the OSTP (Lane was President Clinton’s science advisor), what sort of feedback he’d received. “Mostly favorable,” he said. He alluded to Cernan’s opposition to the proposal that was published by the Houston Chronicle, but wasn’t surprised since Cernan is “still kind of a space nut. He wants to go go go, out to Mars.”

Lane, by comparison, doesn’t think the nation is interested in human missions to the Moon and Mars. “It would be fine to go to the Moon if there was a reason to go to the Moon, and the people wanted to, but they don’t,” he claimed. “People don’t care about going back to the Moon and there’s no rationale for going back to the Moon. I would really like to see NASA go forward in a big way and have a larger and more exciting space program. But right now there’s not the support for it, and NASA’s flailing.”

That’s why, he said, he and Abbey decided that NASA would be better advised to focus on “solving the energy problem” and build public support for the agency that could be leveraged for other missions in the future. “If we keep blowing all our money on Constellation there will be nothing left,” he said.

Read the rest at SPACE POLITICS

I would be a heck of a lot more interested in what Dr. Schmitt has to say about Lane's comments, frankly, and I feel sorry for anyone who would dare call Captain Cernan "a space nut." It marks Lane as either ignorant or covertly hostile to an eventual future beyond the reach of central planning. This Zero-Sum mentality if really getting on my nerves. - JCR

Cement Jet Printed buildings on the Moon and Mega-scale fabrication

AAAS Conference Report HAT-TIP: Next Big Future

Contour Crafting, cement-jet printing of buildings, has been studied for use on the moon. Contour Crafting is the only layered fabrication technology which is suitable for large scale fabrication. CC is also capable of using a variety of materials with large aggregates and additives such as reinforcement fibre. Due to its speed and its ability to use in-situ materials, Contour Crafting has the potential for immediate application in low income housing and emergency shelter construction. One of the ultimate goals of humans is building habitats on other planets for long term occupancy. The CC approach has direct application to extraterrestrial construction. A NASA supported project was aimed at studying the applicability of CC for Lunar construction (Khoshnevis et al., 2005). The development path is to first make single household houses, then multi-unit apartments and offices and then whole communities and towns.

Read the story HERE.