Again, the call for people who would wish to go to Mars.
While the idea of sending astronauts aloft never to return is jarring upon first hearing, the rationale for one-way trips into space has both historical and practical roots. Colonists and pilgrims seldom set off for the New World with the expectation of a return trip, usually because the places they were leaving were pretty intolerable anyway. Give us a century or two and we may turn the whole planet into a place from which many people might be happy to depart.
…If it sounds unrealistic to suggest that astronauts would be willing to leave home never to return alive, then consider the results of several informal surveys I and several colleagues have conducted recently. One of my peers in Arizona recently accompanied a group of scientists and engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on a geological field trip. During the day, he asked how many would be willing to go on a one-way mission into space. Every member of the group raised his hand.
It’s an idea that I’ve always thought should be worth considering. The early days of the space program saw test pilots/astronauts willing to submit to huge risks in order to advance our knowledge and abilities – I’m sure many today would be of a similar mindset. And who could resist having their names permanently etched in history as the first humans to settle another planet…
I would do it in a heartbeat.
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto:
Japan’s unmanned H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) has passed a NASA flight readiness review and is in final preparations for liftoff from Tanegashima Space Center on its first mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Sept. 11 local time.
On Aug. 30, the encapsulated vehicle was transported to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Tanegashima, where it is being mated to the second stage of its H-IIB rocket and having the final elements of its pressurized cargo installed.
The 10-meter long spacecraft is capable of carrying 4.5 metric tons of internal cargo and 1.5 tons of external cargo. This first flight will carry 2.5 metric tons internally – which will mostly be station logistics, with about 20 percent of the pressurized volume being occupied by research hardware.
The HTV also carries two external scientific payloads – Japan’s SMILES (Superconduting Submillimeter-Wave Limb Emission Sounder) and NASA’s HREP (HICO-RAIDS Experiment Payload) experiments. SMILES will study the effects of trace gases on the Earth’s ozone layer, and HREP will study the oceans and map the ionosphere and thermosphere. Both will be installed on the Japanese Kibo laboratory’s exposed experiment facility on the station.
Launch of the HTV is set for 2:01 a.m. Sept. 11 Japan time, or roughly noon Central U.S. time Sept. 10. It will be the first flight for the H-IIB. The launch window will be open until Sept. 30, and will include about seven liftoff opportunities, according to NASA ISS Program Manager Mike Suffredini. After that, the next opportunities for launch won’t occur until early next year.
NASA conducted its own HTV flight readiness review (FRR) on Aug. 27, which formally approved the vehicle’s upcoming rendezvous. “From a development standpoint, this vehicle is well ready to fly,” Suffredini said during a news conference Sept. 2. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will have its own FRR tomorrow night U.S. time, followed by a Launch Readiness Review Sept. 5.
On flight day 8, the vehicle will travel to a position about 5 kilometers behind the ISS. Then it will travel to 300 meters below the outpost and perform a 180-degree yaw-around to position itself for possible abort maneuvers. It will then approach to 30 meters and stop, then move closer until it is within grasp of the station’s robotic arm, which will grapple it and connect it to the Earth-facing docking port on the station’s Harmony connecting module.
The next day, the crew will open the HTV and begin transferring pressurized cargo – a process expected to take about 70 hours over the course of the HTV’s docked period. A few days after capture, the exposed experiments will be transferred to the Kibo’s exterior facility.
The HTV will spend about six weeks attached to the station. Two days after release, it will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
It’s nice to see Japan finally getting it’s automated space station supply train online, it’s going to be needed shortly.
With US funding due to get cut in 2016 for the ISS, Japan with the world’s second largest economy (might not be in 2016) might have to foot more of the bill!