From the article:
The commercial spaceflight company Golden Spike – which aims fly private missions to the moon by 2020 – has teamed up with the New York-based firm Honeybee Robotics to design robotic rovers for the planned lunar expeditions.
“We’re very proud to be working with Honeybee, which has tremendous experience and a record of successful performance in the development of flight systems for NASA,” Golden Spike President and CEO Alan Stern said in a statement last month.
Golden Spike first announced its goal of launching two-person commercial flights to the moon in December 2012. To boost the scientific output of the expeditions, the company plans to send unmanned rovers to the moon ahead of the crew to collect samples from a wider area than the crew will be able to travel from their landing pad. The rovers will then meet up with the crew’s spacecraft once it arrives, according to the mission plan. [Golden Spike’s Private Moon Mission Plan in Pictures]
“Honeybee brings a unique body of knowledge and skills to help us augment the capabilities of human exploration missions with advanced robotics,” Clive Neal, a researcher at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and chair of Golden Spike’s lunar science advisory board, said in a statement. “Their participation is a key step forward in helping Golden Spike change the paradigm of human space exploration, through the development of highly capable lunar exploration system architecture for customers around the world.”
Honeybee Robotics has been designing planetary sampling devices for clients including NASA and the US Department of Defense for more than 25 years, and has contributed to the last three of NASA’s Mars landers: The company designed the rock abrasion tool for NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, as well as the icy soil acquisition device (or “Phoenix Scoop”) for the U.S. space agency’s Phoenix Mars lander, and the sample manipulation system and dust removal tool for the Curiosity rover.
Golden Spike officials initially priced the missions at $1.5 billion per person, but has since estimated that the cost could drop down to about $750 million with the help of media coverage and sales of merchandising rights of the missions, Stern told reporters last year at the 29th National Space Symposium in Colorado Spring, Colo. Potential moon flyers include leaders of nations, large corporations, and independently funded individuals.
The companies plan to complete preliminary tests of their rover design by mid-2014.
The cost of the landers and other equipment were the long poles in the tent of NASA’s old Constellation program.
It will be interesting to see if Golden Spike’s plan will work to bring these expenses down. I surely hope so.
A crater on the moon that is a prime target for human exploration may be tantalizingly rich in ice, though researchers warn it could just as well hold none at all.
The scientists investigated Shackleton Crater, which sits almost directly on the moon’s south pole. The crater, named after the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, is more than 12 miles wide (19 kilometers) and 2 miles deep (3 km) — about as deep as Earth’s oceans.
The interiors of polar craters on the moon are in nearly perpetual darkness, making them cold traps that researchers have long suspected might be home to vast amounts of frozen water and thus key candidates for human exploration. However, previous orbital and Earth-based observations of lunar craters have yielded conflicting interpretations over whether ice is there.
For instance, the Japanese spacecraft Kaguya saw no discernible signs of ice within Shackleton Crater, but NASA’s LCROSS probe analyzed Cabeus Crater near the moon’s south pole and found it measured as much as 5 percent water by mass. [Photos: Searching for Water on the Moon]
Now scientists who have mapped Shackleton Crater with unprecedented detail have found evidence of ice inside the crater.
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter essentially illuminated the crater’s interior with infrared laser light, measuring how reflective it was. The crater’s floor is more reflective than that of other nearby craters, suggesting it had ice.
“Water ice in amounts of up to 20 percent is a viable possibility,” study lead author Maria Zuber, a geophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told SPACE.com.
Don’t get your hopes up, though. The amount of ice in Shackleton Crater “can also be much less, conceivably as little as zero,” Zuber cautioned.
This uncertainty is due in part to what the researchers saw in the rest of the crater. Bizarrely, while the crater’s floor was relatively bright, Zuber and her colleagues observed that its walls were even more reflective.
Scientists had thought that if highly reflective ice were anywhere in a crater, it would be on the floor, which live in nearly permanent darkness. In comparison, the walls of Shackleton Crater occasionally see daylight, which should evaporate any ice that accumulates.
The researchers think the reflectance of the crater’s walls is due not to ice, but to quakes. Every once in a while, the moon experiences shaking brought on by meteor collisions or the pull of the Earth. These “moonquakes” may have caused Shackleton’s walls to slough off older, darker soil, revealing newer, brighter soil underneath.
Whether or not the crater floor is brightly reflective due to ice or other factors is also open to question.This split-view image shows an elevation map (left) and shaded relief (right) of the 21-kilometer-wide Shackleton Crater. The crater’s structure is shown in false color from data by NASA’s LRO probe. Image released June 20, 2012. CREDIT: NASA/GSFC/SVS
“The reflectance could be indicative of something else in addition to or other than water ice,” Zuber said. For instance, the crater floor might be reflective because it could have had relatively little exposure to solar and cosmic radiation that would have darkened it.
Zuber noted that the measurements only look at a micron-thick portion of Shackleton Crater’s uppermost layer. “A bigger question is how much water might be buried at depth,” Zuber said, adding that NASA’s GRAIL mission will investigate that possibility.
“We would like to study other lunar polar craters in comparable detail,” Zuber said. “There is much to be learned here.”
What does all this mean? Will the current occupants of the Moon share the water with us humans?
I wouldn’t bet on it.
We’re being relegated to catching asteroids.
The Apollo space missions to the Moon were the last Beyond Earth Orbit human explorations of Near space, the last being in 1972.
The main reasons being lack of public interest and funding, so any explorations beyond the Near Earth regions have been robotic due to their relative financial benefits and nobody worries much if a robot dies instead of a human being.
That issue might change in the future according to a paper written by Ian Crawford, a professor of planetary sciences at Birkbeck College (London):
…Out of necessity, all our missions to the outer system have been unmanned, but as we learn more about long-duration life-support and better propulsion systems, that may change. The question raised this past weekend in an essay in The Atlanticis whether it should.
Ian Crawford, a professor of planetary sciences at Birkbeck College (London) is the focus of the piece, which examines Crawford’s recent paper in Astronomy and Geophysics. It’s been easy to justify robotic exploration when we had no other choice, but Crawford believes not only that there is a place for humans in space, but that their presence is indispensable. All this at a time when even a return to the Moon seems beyond our budgets, and advanced robotics are thought by many in the space community to be the inevitable framework of all future exploration.
But not everyone agrees, even those close to our current robotic missions. Jared Keller, who wrote The Atlantic essay, dishes up a quote from Steve Squyres, who knows a bit about robotic exploration by virtue of his role as Principal Investigator for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars. Squyres points out that what a rover could do even on a perfect day on Mars would be the work of less than a minute for a trained astronaut. Crawford accepts the truth of this and goes on to question what robotic programming can accomplish:
“We may be able to make robots smarter, but they’ll never get to the point where they can make on the spot decisions in the field, where they can recognize things for being important even if you don’t expect them or anticipate them,” argues Crawford. “You can’t necessarily program a robot to recognize things out of the blue.”
Landing astronauts is something we’ve only done on the Moon, but the value of the experience is clear — we’ve had human decision-making at work on the surface, exploring six different sites (some of them with the lunar rover) and returning 382 kilograms of lunar material. The fact that we haven’t yet obtained samples from Mars doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do robotically, but a program of manned exploration clearly points to far more comprehensive surface study. Crawford points out that the diversity of returned samples is even more important on Mars, which is more geologically interesting than the Moon and offers a more complicated history.
Image: Apollo 15 carried out 18.5 hours of lunar extra-vehicular activity, the first of the “J missions,” where a greater emphasis was placed on scientific studies. The rover tracks and footprints around the area give an idea of the astronauts’ intense activity at the site. Credit: NASA.
Sending astronauts by necessity means returning a payload to Earth along with intelligently collected samples. From Crawford’s paper:
Robotic explorers, on the other hand, generally do not return (this is one reason why they are cheaper!) so nothing can come back with them. Even if robotic sample return missions are implemented, neither the quantity nor the diversity of these samples will be as high as would be achievable in the context of a human mission — again compare the 382 kg of samples (collected from over 2000 discrete locations) returned by Apollo, with the 0.32 kg (collected from three locations) brought back by the Luna sample return missions.
It’s hard to top a yield like that with any forseeable robotic effort. Adds Crawford:
The Apollo sample haul might also be compared with the ≤ 0.5 kg generally considered in the context of future robotic Mars sample return missions… Note that this comparison is not intended in any way to downplay the scientific importance of robotic Mars sample return, which will in any case be essential before human missions can responsibly be sent to Mars, but merely to point out the step change in sample availability (both in quantity and diversity) that may be expected when and if human missions are sent to the planet.
Large sample returns have generated, at least in the case of the Apollo missions, huge amounts of refereed scientific papers, especially when compared to the publications growing out of robotic landings. Crawford argues that it is the quantity and diversity of sample returns that have fueled the publications, and points out that all of this has occurred because of a mere 12.5 days total contact time on the lunar surface (and the actual EVA time was only 3.4 days at that). Compare this to the 436 active days on the surface for the Lunokhods and 5162 days for the Mars Exploration Rovers. Moreover, the Apollo publication rate is still rising. Quoting the paper again:
The lesson seems clear: if at some future date a series of Apollo-like human missions return to the Moon and/or are sent on to Mars, and if these are funded (as they will be) for a complex range of socio-political reasons, scientists will get more for our money piggy-backing science on them than we will get by relying on dedicated autonomous robotic vehicles which will, in any case, become increasingly unaffordable.
Will the Global Exploration Strategy laid out by the world’s space agencies in 2007 point us to a future in which international cooperation takes us back to the Moon and on to Mars? If so, science should be a major beneficiary as we learn things about the origin of the Solar System and its evolution that we would not learn remotely as well by using robotic spacecraft. So goes Crawford’s argument, and it’s a bracing tonic for those of us who grew up assuming that space exploration meant sending humans to targets throughout our Solar System and beyond. That robotic probes should precede them seems inevitable, but we have not yet reached the level of artificial intelligence that will let robots supercede humans in space.
Currently in mainstream space activities, commercial companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, Sierra Nevada, etc., are taking the lead in the future exploration of Near Space and the Solar System vice any future explorations by NASA, inspite of what parochial politicians in certain states try to do in Congress.
Of course this precludes any gains made by secret black projects in the military-industrial-complex in the area of any secret space programs.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons politicians aren’t too worried about sending manned NASA missions back to the Moon?
Many thanks to Paul Gilster and his great site Centauri Dreams.
In spaceflight (and sci-fi lore), nothing can be more basic than setting up an asteroid colony.
The idea can be traced back to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky himself, but it wasn’t fleshed out until J.D. Bernal proposed his ‘Bernal Spheres’ in 1929 the concept of using extra-planetary materials to construct future homes for a ‘superior’ humanity (Bernal was a Marxist) was put into the mainstream.
In the ‘modern’ era, using extra-terrestrial construction materials for space colonies was written of extensively by Gerard O’Neill, a Princeton physicist. Although he advocated using lunar building materials launched by electromagnetic rail guns, he wasn’t above using an occasional asteroid or two to build a colony up to Bernal sphere specs.
Recently in a policy change for NASA, US President Obama proposed cancelling the Constellation Moon Program and replacing it with a program that will send US astronauts to a ‘NEO’ (Near Earth Asteroid) by 2025 to test out long-range life support and propulsion technologies that will be utilized on future Mars expeditions.
A lot of folks like politicians, policy and media wonks don’t like the idea, but it does have it’s merits. Blogger and space advocate Trent Waddington is one who thinks it’s a good idea:
Deriders of the new NASA direction have latched on to the announcedhuman asteroid mission in the 2025 timeframe as something they “can’t imagine” and therefore is not worth doing. Of course, the administration is talking up the “science” that can be done on an asteroid, and how this could better inform us should the need arise todivert or destroy one that threatens Earth. This is good politics as nothing motivates like fear, but for those of us who think the human spaceflight program is really about preparing us to live at the future homes of humanity, asteroids would seem to be just a stop on the way – I disagree.
As I’ve written previously, the new NASA direction isn’t about asteroids – it isn’t about destinations – it’s about going and specifically, it’s about going to Mars. I’m not sure NASA knows yet why they’re going to Mars, but they’re focusing on the technology to get there and get back safely, and some of the stepping stones along the way are asteroids. As such, although I will often advocate that I think asteroids are a much better future home for humanity, I recognize that in terms of the battle lines of this debate, asteroids are neutral or worse, disposable.
So how does one live on an asteroid? I’ve regularly heard this question asked by intelligent people. They point out the low gravity and how with just a misplaced step an astronaut could be hurtled into escape velocity and lost forever! NASA’s mission to an asteroid will most likely be conducted on the surface, so this is a real risk, just as it is for astronauts conducting spacewalks on the International Space Station. However, the settlement of an asteroid would have little use for the surface, except perhaps as a place to lay solar panels, as all the interesting stuff happens below the surface.
The primary reason is radiation. Just like on the Moon or Mars, humans will need to live underground to provide passive protection from galactic cosmic rays and solar storms. On Earth (and Venus) the predominate protection from radiation is provided by the atmosphere, miles and miles of it. To achieve the same level of protection only a dozen feet or so of regolith is required.
Robotic probes will be sent ahead of NASA’s human mission to an asteroid. More than likely, only an orbiter, but a much more capable robotic lander makes a lot of sense. For the long term settlement of an asteroid, it will carry essential drilling equipment which it will use to drill straight down. After digging down for a while, the robotic drill will turn some significant angle and keep drilling. The hole it produces need only be big enough to maneuver a crew module into without bumping the sides – once they arrive, weeks or months later. The right-hand-turn the drill makes is sufficient to protect the crew from radiation, which can only move in straight lines. If mirrors are installed on the turn the crew can enjoy natural sunlight and a view of the stars.
Having secured the safety of the crew from ionizing radiation, they are now free to get to work. Using drilling tools the astronauts can prospect deep into the core in search of the richest metals, or collect volatiles which can be purified into drinking water or oxygen for breathing.
Soon, they’ll dig a long circular tunnel with a radius of at least 894 meters. The outside edge of the tunnel is lined with metal track. A simple electric train runs the length of it, completing a full circuit in just one minute. On a parallel track the astronauts enter an open carriage which accelerates them up to rendezvous with the ever moving train. As they speed up the astronauts feel the gentle pull of centripetal force as it builds to a full Earth-standard gravity.
As an idea to spur some private industry to colonize, or perhaps start mining and bring these NEOs into safer orbits, I propose the government (or corporations) do a modern day “Homestead Act” in which they stake families with some money, supplies and a spaceship. Then the family can scope out a NEO that’s within a reasonable range (say a month or two travel time), go there and start mining the volatiles like water, iron, carbonates, whatever and send the rest to a safe Earth L1 or L2 orbit for the sponsoring government or corporation to collect.
The family gets a nice tidy profit, and then either they go to another NEO to mine, go back to Earth to spend their money or join up with other like minded folk and form their own NEO mining corporation.
The discovery by NASA of water at the Lunar South via the LCROSS Mission was a pleasant surprise by the agency and the scientific community in general and has recently prompted serious discussions of further lunar exploration in the future, because water can be used for various things by a human base there like drinking, bathing, fuel production and for regolith cement for housing.
One has never considered that these rare pools of water could contain organic materials, i.e., life.
But Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists have analyzed 2008 information from their now dead Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe and discovered organic compounds on the moon’s surface:
Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) are on the brink of a path-breaking discovery. They may have found signs of life in some form or the other on the Moon.
They believe so because scientific instruments on India’s first unmanned lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, picked up signatures of organic matter on parts of the Moon’s surface, Surendra Pal, associate director, Isro Satellite Centre (Isac), said at the international radar symposium here on Friday.
Organic matter consists of organic compounds, which consists of carbon — the building block of life.
It indicates the formation of life or decay of a once-living matter.
Pal said the signatures were relayed back to the Bylalu deep space network station near Bangalore by the mass spectrometer on board the Indian payload, the moon impact probe (MIP), on November 14, 2008.
The relay of data happened moments before it crashed near the Moon’s south pole. The MIP was the first experiment of the Chandrayaan-1 mission, which was launched on October 22, 2008.
Pal, however, did not elaborate, but concluded saying “the findings are being analysed and scrutinised for validation by Isro scientists and peer reviewers”.
“It is too early to say anything,” said the director of Isro’s space physics laboratory R Sridharan, who is heading the team of MIP data analysis and study. He, however, did not deny the finding.
DNA later inquired with other senior Chandrayaan-1 mission scientists, who not only confirmed the finding, but gave further details.
“Certain atomic numbers were observed that indicated the presence of carbon components. This indicates the possibility of the presence of organic matter (on the Moon),” a senior scientist told DNA.
Interestingly, similar observations were made by the US’s first manned Moon landing mission, the Apollo-11, in July 1969, which brought lunar soil samples back to Earth. But due to a lack of sophisticated equipment then, the scientists could not confirm the finding.
However, traces of amino acids, which are basic to life, were found in the soil retrieved by the Apollo-11 astronauts.
The Chandrayaan-1 scientists, at present, are analysing the source of origin of the Moon’s organic matter. “It could be comets or meteorites which have deposited the matter on the Moon’s surface; or the instrument that landed on the Moon could have left traces,” a senior space scientist said.
“But the presence of large sheets of ice in the polar regions of the Moon, and the discovery of water molecules there, lend credence to the possibility of organic matter there,” he said.
This is an important discovery and only deepens the mysteries surrounding the Moon.
It has been said that it would be easier exploring Mars, since it acts like it supposed to (like a planet).
The Moon however, doesn’t act like a Moon should.
It acts like a huge spaceship.
Well, that’s a theory to some.
And finding possible life on a supposedly ‘airless’ surface is one in a long line of anomalous characteristics about our nearest celestial neighbor.
Will Gary McKinnon get sent to the American Federal Empire’s Homeland to face kangaroo court and several years in prison, never to be heard from again as punishment for hacking into the Pentagon’s computers?
The U.K.’s High Court ruled Friday that a British hacker cannot appeal his extradition to the country’s Supreme Court, narrowing the Londoner’s legal options.
Gary McKinnon’s attorney sought to join the case to an appeal against extradition filed by the attorney for Ian Norris, a British businessman facing charges in the U.S. for alleged involvement in an cartel. The extradition treaty with the U.S. is viewed by many in the U.K. as enabling the U.S. to extradite people more easily from Britain than is possible in the other direction.
McKinnon may take his case to the European Court of Human Rights, according to his attorney, Karen Todner. That court, however, refused in August 2008 to stop his extradition.
The U.K. government has given McKinnon’s legal team 14 days to consider its options.
“We are not giving up,” Todner said in a statement.
Friday’s ruling is the latest in a long-running legal battle. The order to extradite McKinnon was approved by the U.K. government in July 2006, but his legal team continued to challenge the order, holding up his transfer.
The High Court ruled on July 31 that Gary McKinnon’s extradition to the U.S. should proceed despite his diagnosis with Asperger Syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by obsessive behavior and deficiencies in social interaction.
McKinnon had also asked the court to review a refusal by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for England and Wales to prosecute him in the U.K.
British prosecutors, however, maintain that the U.S. wants jurisdiction and that most evidence and witnesses are in the U.S. McKinnon was indicted by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in 2002 for hacking into 97 military and NASA computers between February 2001 and March 2002. He could face up to 60 years in prison.
The U.S. military alleges the hacking resulted in the shutdown of critical networks. McKinnon allegedly left messages such as “U.S. foreign policy is akin to government-sponsored terrorism these days…. I am Solo. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels.” The U.S. government said McKinnon’s actions caused US$700,000 in damages.
The reclusive McKinnon, who rarely makes public appearances, has become an unlikely cause célèbre, raising issues outside the sphere of computer-related crime.
Several Members of Parliament have thrown their support behind McKinnon, in addition to celebrities such as Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour or Sting, lead singer and bassist for The Police.
McKinnon has freely admitted to breaking into the computers, saying he was looking for evidence of UFOs. The computers were accessed using a program called “RemotelyAnywhere,” an access tool used by administrators to fix computers remotely. McKinnon has said the military computers were poorly secured, often using default passwords that were easy to guess.
His hacking career ended after he mistakenly took over a computer during U.S. working hours. Someone noticed a computer’s cursor moving on its own, and the Internet connection was shut down. Shortly thereafter, U.K. police arrested him at his north London home.
The Empire wants to make an example of McKinnon, that’s the only reason they want to prosecute a guy with autism.
Shit, they ought to prosecute the programmers who couldn’t keep the guy out to begin with!
With NASA’s LCROSS mission such a ‘success’ as their mission planners say, why not study an area where we already know where some water is?
aerial survey of Earth’s surface to chart the impact of global warming, with six years of flights over to understand the frozen continent’s glaciers and ice sheets.The US space agency said the massive aerial survey, part of a program dubbed Operation Ice Bridge, will get underway on October 15.next week begins the most extensive
Data gathered during the mission will help scientists predict how changes to the massivewill contribute to a rise in sea levels around the world.
Researchers will work from NASA’s DC-8, an airborne laboratory equipped with laser mapping instruments, ice-penetrating radar and gravity instruments.
“A remarkable change is happening on Earth, truly one of the biggest changes in environmental conditions since the end of the,” said Tom Wagner, cryosphere program manager at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
“It’s not an easy thing to observe, let alone predict what might happen next. Studies like Ice Bridge are key,” he said.
Space officials said the plane, crew and scientists depart October 12 from NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, California, and fly to Punta Arenas, Chile, where they will be based through mid-November.
Some 50 scientists and support personnel are part of the mission, which will involve 17 flights over the southern polar region.
They better not make too many flights over the South Pole, they might run into Admiral Byrd’s silver-haired Aryans!
What if we were bombed by something, like we tried to do to the Moon?
Philosopher Jason Naveed dishes out some theories:
History Channel rocks…well at least to those of us who don’t consider it the Fantasy Channel. Their latest episode of The Universe rocked however and had me riveted as well as oohing and awing at potentially awesome, albeit sometimes quite simple, future space warfare. It also had wondering just how quickly an alien race that wanted to wipe us off the face of the Earth could.
Perhaps the most obvious thing that be different about war in space is that it’d be nothing like what we see in Star Wars and Star Trek (although ST is a bit more realistic then SW) and would be boring, but not at the same time. Weapons would work completely different, there would be no sound (as most of us probably know) and forget the need for wings on ships. Also, throw out the warheads for good old fashioned kinetic energy.
My favorite weapon they showcased was what is called a “Rod from God” which is nothing more then a sturdy metal rod with a rocket booster, designed to be launched from space, boost itself to a high speed, then shut off and just go faster and faster, in the frictionless vacuum of space. The result is basically the same as a meteor impact, or a punch to the face in a sense. I question their reasoning for showing that television however because you just know some rich madman is going to build one and hold the world hostage now. Speaking of which, it could even be an alien madman.
Yeah, some crazy aliens might just be out there with tech far in advance from us, ready to blow us off the planet. Well actually I don’t know if being blown off is possible, but it could be, however, I had no choice, but to question how capable we’d really be of fighting off a E.T. menace if they were just that much more advanced then us. Really I don’t think there would be anyway to stop them. Considering we’re still here however, and the fact that most of the UFO phenomenon to me seems to be interdimensional, I doubt we’ll be faced with that threat…of course we live in a world of infinite possibilities, so we’ll never really know unless it happens. Now the an Earthbound rich madman however…that is more of a possibility…I just hope a James Bond like guy is too…
“Rods From God”, I like that one.
The LCROSS lunar mission in which the Centaur rocket stage was destined to be shot into a crater in the Southern Lunar Hemisphere to find water is in danger of not happening:
Officials are hurriedly looking for ways to save fuel on NASA’s $79 million lunar impactor mission after a crisis Saturday caused the spacecraft to burn more than half of its remaining propellant.
The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite used about 140 kilograms, or 309 pounds, of maneuvering fuel to maintain the probe’s orientation in space Saturday, according to Dan Andrews, the mission’s project manager at Ames Research Center.
LCROSS is tugging a 41-foot-long Centaur rocket stage on a circuitous route through space. Scientists are preparing for a fleeting series of observations as the spent booster is released for a suicidal plunge into the moon on Oct. 9.
The goal is to hit a shadowed crater near the lunar south pole to see if water ice deposits reside there.
The 6-foot-tall shepherding spacecraft’s attitude control system was specifically designed to handle the unusual job of positioning the 47-foot-long stack as it flies toward the moon.
“It was a tough day, as you can imagine,” Andrews said. “But what it’s done is given us a razor’s focus on how to manage the remainder of the propellant.”
LCROSS is now perilously close to its built-in propellant margins, and Andrews said the team will probably have to cancel some activities that are not crucial to the mission.
“Our estimates now are if we pretty much baseline the mission, meaning just accomplish the things that we have to (do) to get the job done with full mission success, we’re still in the black on propellant, but not by a lot,” Andrews told Spaceflight Now late Tuesday.
LCROSS now has between 20 pounds and 40 pounds of extra propellant that could be used in unplanned activities, a relatively thin margin for satellite operations.
“We can finish this mission, but it makes our sensitivity to something happening quite high,” Andrews said.
Conspiracy theorists such as Richard Hoagland have speculated that NASA was planning to bomb existing Lunar colonies (inhabited by whom, we do not know) using the fuel laden Centaur stage as a super-kinetic weapon.
Now it seems the stage has used up most of it’s fuel because of an un-named ‘crisis.’
Why is the cause ‘un-named’ or ‘unknown?’
“Curiouser and curiouser”, said Alice.
What do you think?
Far be it for me to question common sense or wisdom (if you believe that, I have some swampland in Arizona to sell ya!), but hasn’t anyone noticed that NASA and everybody else’s’ plan for exploring the Moon getting drawn away?
And all this attention given to Buzz Aldrin’s supposed mention on CSPAN of a “monolith” on one of Mars’ moon, Phobos? What’s up with that?
Are we being distracted? Why?
And are UFOs involved?
The reason I’m asking these questions is because the panel requested by CFR backed US President Obama to rethink NASA’s “Road Map to Space” (an unfunded mandate by former President Bu$hco) is more than likely is going to recommend that the US go away from exploring the Moon.
Instead, the panel suggests that NASA concentrate on using the Orion capsule to explore Lagrange points in lunar and Earth orbits and “docking” with asteroids.
I realize that money , or lack thereof might be a huge reason for some of these changes in policy, and god knows that the US as a viable economic entity might become a thing of the past sooner than later, so it could have larger fish to fry than lunar exploration shortly.
But IMHO, the Moon provides resources that are close-by to be exploited, re, three days travel by even primitive rockets. Plus the Moon is a natural (?)satellite that can be used as a military base of operations.
Whoa. Did I say ‘military?’
That my friends, could be the answer right there.
According to UFO lore, President Eisenhower met with some supposed ‘aliens’ back in 1954 and signed some treaties.
Now from what I’ve researched of that, it was mainly about letting the aliens sample people for genetic studies, but could some of the language of the treaties have set ‘boundries’ for human exploration of the Solar System and beyond possibly?
In fact, the 1960 Brookings Report about ET contact claims that such contact stemming from interplanetary exploration would throw world societies into total chaos, unable to recover.
And one other legend that will not die is the supposed “Apollo 20″ video that records an ancient spaceship in a crater on the Moon.
Is that b.s. too? Or did it happen?
All I see is that every time someone suggests we (meaning human beings) go back to the Moon to either explore, exploit for resources, set up bases or colonize, there’s a thousand and one reasons that pop up to kill such endeavors.
It’ll be interesting to see if NASA still carries out this LCROSS crash into a crater in the southern lunar hemisphere (crater with water?) this fall.
If it doesn’t happen, or the mainstream media doesn’t mention anything about it at all, I’ll be all the more curious.
So now we’re supposed to set our sights on Mars because Moon exploration is so ‘old hat’ now eh?
Or more exactly, the moons of Mars?
Okay, I’ll buy that.
In fact, I discussed this with Quasar9 one time. He wasn’t too thrilled about it, so we agreed to disagree.
My argument was that because a planet had a deep gravity well, it was harder to exploit for resources, thus, we need to go for the asteroids.
And lo and behold, for the very reasons the space exploratory panel suggests.
I didn’t suggest they use asteroids as stepping stones to get to the moons of Mars (I suggested the asteroid belt beyond Mars).
And that’s where I think Mr. Aldrin came in with his ‘monolith’ on Phobos schpeel.
Was that an attempt to influence discource on that panel?
I’m sure it was.
So, you’re gonna say “some space exploration is better than none Dad”, and I’ll agree with that.
What I’m saying is that “there might be more than what we’re being told.”
Yeah, I know, tin-foil bullshit and all that.
And I didn’t even bring up the fact we’re going waaaay out of our way to avoid bringing any kind of nuclear powered equipment into space, even if it would make things a thousand times easier to plan and operate.
And don’t even tell me about those bullshit non-nuclear treaties we’ve already broken with our military programs.
St. Ronnie be praised!
The second of a pair of long-delayed missile tracking satellites is packed up awaiting orders from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to ship out for launch later this year, according their Northrop Grumman builders.The first of the two Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) demonstration satellites has already been shipped to a to a payload processing facility near their Florida launch said, said Gabe Watson, Northrop Grumman’s STSS program manager, in a recent interview. The satellites were slated to lift off in August, but the flight is expected to be pushed back in light of a space shuttle launch delay that has muddled the manifest at their spaceport in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
When they finally blast off, the STSS satellites will be launched in a stacked configuration aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket. The MDA in May launched a classified STSS demonstration satellite that was also built by Northrop Grumman.
Following a post-launch checkout phase expected to last three months, Northrop Grumman will operate the satellites from Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., through a six-month period of testing, in which at least two dedicated ballistic missile targets will be launched to test STSS. The satellites also will participate in at least two other tests of MDA systems such as the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system, Morgan said. The final test program is still in flux as the agency’s overall test program is not yet set.
The satellites have a staring sensor similar to that on the Air Force’s Defense Support Program and Space Based Infrared System satellites, but they also have a multiband infrared tracking sensor other missile warning satellites lack, Watson said.
“Even though the hardware was built in the 1990s, when the two STSS demonstrators are on orbit, they will bring a unique capability to the MDA,” Watson said. “We can track missiles in every stage of flight, from launch to intercept, and do hit assessment as well. If the MDA wants to intercept missiles in the ascent phase, they will need additional data that [current missile warning satellites] don’t provide.”
At last, Star Wars finally becoming a reality. The Sainted Ronnie of the Raygun is going to bestow such blessings upon our nation now!
Oh, it’s shark, not snark. Sorry.
However, the best defense is a good offense…
The planned October 9, 2009 bombing of the moon by a NASA orbiter that will bomb the moon with a 2-ton kinetic weapon to create a 5 mile wide deep crater as an alleged water-seeking and lunar colonization experiment, is contrary to space law prohibiting environmental modification of celestial bodies. The NASA moon bombing, a component of the LCROSS mission, may also trigger conflict with known extraterrestrial civilizations on the moon as reported on the moon in witnessed statements by U.S. astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, and in witnessed statements to NSA (National Security Agency) photos and documents regarding an extraterrestrial base on the dark side of the moon.
If the true intent of the LCROSS mission moon bombing is a hostile act by NASA against known extraterrestrial civilizations and settlements on the moon, then NASA and by extension the U.S. government are guilty of aggressive war which is the most serious of war crimes under the U.N. Charter and the Geneva Conventions, to which the U.S. is subject. The U.N. Outer Space Treaty, which the U.S. has ratified, requires that “ The moon and other celestial bodies shall be used by all States Parties to the Treaty exclusively for peaceful purposes. The establishment of military bases, installations and fortifications, the testing of any type of weapons and the conduct of military manoeuvres on celestial bodies shall be forbidden.” 98 nations have ratified and 125 nations have signed the U.N. Outer Space Treaty.
The problem I see with this theory is – that whoever might be hiding on the Moon could have bigger destructive toys than us and possibly take umbrage with us ‘bombing’ them with kinetic energy weapons.
But then again, Bu$hco, our Chinese ‘friends’, Japan and India did start ambitious lunar programs back in 2004 (the US, unsurprisingly is slacking off from this program during the Obama Administration) on the pretext of ‘peaceful’ exploration.
In fairness to the American space program, which has been vilified by myself and my commenters as being too staid and unimaginative, I’m going to link to the NASA site that has the Constellation Program on it. Unbeknownst to myself, Constellation is the program that oversees all of the components of the American Manned Space Program after the shuttle fleet gets retired in 2010.
For the uninitiated, the components are; Ares booster rockets, the Orion crew capsule and various components of the Moon Lander and Moon Base(s). Most of this is old technology that is just getting a fresh coat of paint because of the price tag. At least the “technology” the elite are willing to display anyways. It seems that while certain members of the elite won’t concede any of the “high ground” to the Chinese and Russians, borrowing money for resource wars still take precident.
We could have done so much more over the past thirty some-odd years. Instead of building the first interstellar probes and already having viable colonies on the Moon and Mars, we’re just now preparing to go back to the Moon. And this is along the lines of Antarctic exploration and possible military bases, not future human migration.
Maybe Charlie Stross is right when he said that the economic aspect of human colonization of space isn’t doable, or if it’ll ever be doable. Maybe it’ll just fade into insignificance or be rendered moot if a Technological Singularity occurs. After all, a super-duper virtual reality world would probably be more appealing to people than being a “canned primate” in an hostile environment. Could this be a possible explanation to the Fermi Paradox? That’s a discussion for another day.
I’m kind of old fashioned though. I see the value of character enhancement through hard work and adversity. Being an augmented upload in a hyper-VR world might work for most people, but I consider that a cop-out. In that sense, pitiful space travel is better than no space travel.
Besides, the eleven year old kid in me hopes to be a canned primate someday.