Category Archives: US Space Policy

NASA and the Alien Contact Scenario

Lately I find it interesting in the mainstream media and science that the possibility of contacting extraterrestrial intelligence is getting more serious and less laughter associated with it.

Personally, I think it’s related to discoveries made by the Kepler space telescope and Keck observatory in Hawaii of hundreds, if not thousands of near-Earth sized planets within a sphere of 300 light-years. This has spurred interest in exoplanetary observation and studies of potential Earth-like atmospheres for changes such as warming, carbon-dioxide build-ups and artificial radiation.

One such project, the SKA (Square Kilometer Array) is the direct result of these discoveries. One of SKA’s missions is to probe potential exo-Earths within 50 light-years for radio transmissions, especially radar emissions because that would be a sure sign of civilization(s) capable of being potential competitor(s) in our local interstellar neighborhood.

So it seems that NASA (that bastion of governmental openess, lol) has an actual alien contact scenario that could be implemented at a moment’s notice.

It also seems to be drawn right out of the film classic ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still:’

Extraterrestrial beings monitoring Earth  might  view changes in our atmosphere as symptomatic of a a self-destructing civilization and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, according to a highly speculative scenario developed last year by scientists at NASA and Penn State University.

Shawn Domagal-Goldman of NASA’s Planetary Science Division and his colleagues developed scenarios that could unfold in the aftermath of a close encounter, to help humanity “prepare for actual contact”.Their report, Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis,divides alien contacts into three broad categories: beneficial, neutral or harmful.Beneficial encounters ranged from the mere detection of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), for example through the interception of alien broadcasts, to contact with cooperative organisms that help us advance our knowledge and solve global problems such as hunger, poverty and disease.

Another beneficial outcome the authors entertain sees humanity triumph over a more powerful alien aggressor, or even being saved by a second group of ETs. “In these scenarios, humanity benefits not only from the major moral victory of having defeated a daunting rival, but also from the opportunity to reverse-engineer ETI technology,” the authors write.

Other kinds of close encounter may be less rewarding and leave much of human society feeling indifferent towards alien life. The extraterrestrials may be too different from us to communicate with usefully. They might invite humanity to join the “Galactic Club” only for the entry requirements to be too bureaucratic and tedious for humans to bother with.

The most unappealing outcomes would arise if extraterrestrials caused harm to humanity, even if by accident. While aliens may arrive to eat, enslave or attack us, the report adds that people might also suffer from being physically crushed or by contracting diseases carried by the visitors. In especially unfortunate incidents, humanity could be wiped out when a more advanced civilisation accidentally unleashes an unfriendly artificial intelligence, or performs a catastrophic physics experiment that renders a portion of the galaxy uninhabitable.

To bolster humanity’s chances of survival, the researchers call for caution in sending signals into space, and in particular warn against broadcasting information about our biological make-up, which could be used to manufacture weapons that target humans. Instead, any contact with ETs should be limited to mathematical discourse “until we have a better idea of the type of ETI we are dealing with.”

The authors warn that extraterrestrials may be wary of civilisations that expand very rapidly, as these may be prone to destroy other life as they grow, just as humans have pushed species to extinction on Earth. In the most extreme scenario, aliens might choose to destroy humanity to protect other civilisations.

“A preemptive strike would be particularly likely in the early phases of our expansion because a civilisation may become increasingly difficult to destroy as it continues to expand. Humanity may just now be entering the period in which its rapid civilisational expansion could be detected by an ETI because our expansion is changing the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere, via greenhouse gas emissions,” the report states.

“Green” aliens might object to the environmental damage humans have caused on Earth and wipe us out to save the planet. “These scenarios give us reason to limit our growth and reduce our impact on global ecosystems. It would be particularly important for us to limit our emissions of greenhouse gases, since atmospheric composition can be observed from other planets,” the authors write.

Even if we never make contact with extraterrestrials, the report argues that considering the potential scenarios may help to plot the future path of human civilisation, avoid collapse and achieve long-term survival.

The idea of ETs giving a crap whether we destroy the Earth or not is laughable. It would eliminate a potential competitor without them lifting a finger (tentacle, mandible, hoof, nanobot?) and be energy efficient.

Somehow, since our Earth is only 4.3 Billion years old and the Universe and our galaxy are both over 13 Billion years old, it is likely any other civilization locally is millions of years older than we are. Therefore their physics are as beyond us as ours is beyond Homo Erectus.

Something to think about.

From the ‘X-Files’ Dept: NASA’s Alien Contact Scenario

Kudos to the Daily Grail!

Mainstream Manned vs. Robotic Spaceflight

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?

Reasons for a Human Future in Space

Many thanks to Paul Gilster and his great site Centauri Dreams.

The Moore’s Law of Commercial Space Flight

Moore’s Law states; ” .. the number of transistors on a microprocessor would double periodically  (approximately every 18 months).”

Now George Nield, associate administrator of commercial space at the FAA believes the same thing can happen to that nascent industry, just like what happened to the railroads over 150 years ago:

“Would that be possible?” Nield asked the audience during a presentation here Wednesday (Feb. 29) at the 2012 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference. “If you recognize that every day in the United States there are more than 30,000 flights by commercial airliners, then maybe three or four rocket launches per day doesn’t sound too unreasonable.”


A ‘Moore’s law for launch’


Nield is pushing for this so-called “Moore’s law for launch” to become a national goal. The original Moore’s law, which is named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, holds that the number of transistors on a computer chip doubles every two years.

Nield proposed some ideas that he said could help make the annual doubling of commercial launches a reality. [Top 10 Private Spaceships Headed for Reality]

For example, the federal government could offer to pay companies a fixed price per pound to launch construction materials, food and water to the moon, and rocket fuel to low-Earth orbit. In addition to laying the foundation for future lunar colonies and orbiting “gas stations,” this effort could help the American private spaceflight industry get off the ground, Nield said.

The government could also help fund a commercial “rocket railroad” that launches frequently on a published schedule, whether payloads are ready to go or not.

“Even if you were launching empty, there would still be significant benefits in terms of maturing the vehicles, training and energizing the workforce and strengthening the industry as a whole,” Nield said.

An orbital rocket railroad might be a tough sell in these challenging economic times, but a suborbital version wouldn’t exactly break the bank. At going rates, the government could get 1,000 suborbital missions for about $200 million, Nield said.

“Tough sell” is an understatement to say the least, especially with “old space” GOPer industry autarchs in Congress keep throwing up road-blocks in order to funnel money to their Congressional Districts ( ).

Eventually a private industry launch service will emerge, once people see that the cost of launches come down.

Like all transportation industries in the U.S., the government may start them, but private enterprise will take them over when they see it becomes cost effective to operate.

This goes all the way back to the Erie Canal and the first Continental Railroad.

Lofty Goal For Private Space Flight: 1,000 Launches A Year By 2019

House of Representatives pass compromise NASA Authorization Bill

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled esoteric programming to bring you some mainstream NASA stuff.

Yeah, I know, it’s “mainstream” NASA, which hardly brings any inspiration and “Never A Straight Answer” comes to mind.

But you know what? I still love rockets flaming off the launch pads and I had my old NASA picture books stored at my parents house until it burned down in 1993.

So sue me.

Anyway, I’ve been keeping track of this at Space Politics and this is the result:

Update 11:45 pm: The House did pass the bill in a recorded vote by well over the two-thirds margin needed: 304-118.

For about 45 minutes this evening the House debated S. 3729, the NASA authorization bill. Because the bill is taken up under suspension of the rules, the debate was relatively streamlined, with no opportunity for introducing amendments. Most of those speaking, including Reps. Bart Gordon (D-TN), Ralph Hall (R-TX), and Pete Olson (R-TX), were reluctantly in favor of the bill, saying it wasn’t perfect but it was better than none at all. Some of the claims bordered on (or perhaps were fully) hyperbolic: Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) claimed that if the House didn’t pass the bill, President Obama would succeed in shutting down the nation’s human spaceflight program by the end of the year.

A notable exception was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), chair of the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee, who spoke “in strong opposition” to the bill, calling it a “bad bill” that the House should vote down. Over the course of about seven minutes she laid out her issues with the bill, ranging from a lack of funding specified for an additional shuttle mission to a heavy-lift launch vehicle “designed by our colleagues” in the Senate as opposed to engineers, to its support of “would be” commercial providers.

The speaker pro tem declared at the end of the debate that the yeas had won the voice vote, but after a bit of an awkward pause, Giffords formally requested a recorded (roll call) vote. That will take place later tonight; perhaps much later, as the House is now moving on to debate the continuing resolution to fund the government after Thursday. The vote will take place tonight, though, as Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced this evening thatthe House will adjourn after tonight’s votes until November 15th, after the mid-term elections. Note that under suspension of the rules the bill will need a two-thirds majority to pass.

When the Obamanator’$ FY2011 budget came out this past February 1st, there was no heavy lift rocket proposed and Bu$hco’s Project Constellation was going to get the axe. Instead launches to the International Space Station was to be handled by private firms like Boeing, SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Orbital Sciences Corporation and robotic missions were going to the Moon and the asteroids

Well, the ensuing months a battle between Obama’s space budget supporters and the entrenched interests in the “space states”; Utah, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Colorado turned into a brawl and wrestling match in a muddy street. It was no holds barred and turned extremely ugly at times. It was also great theater.

The compromise I must admit is a true compromise. It gives a shuttle derived heavy lift launch vehicle back to NASA’s centers in the above listed states to build by 2016 and it gives funding (although reduced) to kick start the commercial space launch industry and returns funding to the defunct technology programs and the robotic precursor interplanetary missions.

But at a starting budget of $19 billion and ending at $19.9 billion in 2013, I seriously doubt that heavy lift rocket will be even off from the drawing board and these robot missions will be even launched. The commercial launches might be launched by then because we need them to work, the political pressure to stop buying the Russian Soyuz transports by an increasingly conservative government will be great.

In the end, the bill is what it is and Mr. Obama will probably sign it into law within another month, end of battle for the time being.

Next is Appropriations by either a lame-duck Congress or a new, possibly more Conservative Congress at the beginning of 2011.

That oughtta be fun, LOL!

The debate over the NASA bill, and its passage

More Ancient Lunar Cover-ups

For years there have been rumors of spaceships and aliens on the far side of the Moon. In fact, the rumors have recently started since the US once again canceled another return to the Moon program (although it was rife with price over-runs, time slips and political pork).

Is the Moon occupied by an alien race? Or even more strange, by vestiges of an ancient human culture from an earlier age of advanced civilization that was spread through-out the Inner Solar System?

As Alice said, “…curiouser and curiouser…”


Timex Watch Found on the Moon

Ares Resurrection

President Obama in his FY2011 budget for NASA cancelled the Constellation Program and its Ares 1 and 5 rockets that were to be used for a return to the Moon. The program was under-funded from the start since the previous Bush 2 Administration and subsequent Congresses since 2005, so the timelines for launching rockets and capsules that were part of the project were pushed out to at least 5-10 years beyond their original online dates.

The program however was supposed to be the successor to the Space Shuttles, which is slated to retire by the end of this year, early next year. So that left a gaping hole in US domestic spaceflight capability. For the first time in 50 years, NASA would have no indigenous capability to get their astronauts to Low Earth Orbit and the International Space Station.

The result was much consternation, political hypocrisy and name-calling, lies, committee meetings and various attempts at some compromise.

The Obamanator compromised somewhat on April 15th at KSC (Kennedy Space Center) when he announced his space plan and relented on cancelling the Orion spaceship; by allowing it to be finished, only to be stripped down to a rescue capsule version to be docked at the ISS.

Well, that wasn’t good enough. As most of us space-cadets know, Congress last year passed a law stating that NASA can’t cancel parts of the Constellation Program unless approved by them. That leaves the FY2011 budget in limbo, with contracts being issued, but not enforced and the previous FY2010 having the force of law and can not be cancelled.

Now because of the FY2010 law, the Ares 1 rocket is being resurrected, by being built for flight tests:

A plan has been created for the continued use of Ares via a series of test flights, ultimately leading up to a Heavy Lift Vehicle (HLV) program in the second half of this decade. Appearing to bank on major changes being negotiated by Congress in NASA’s FY2011 budget proposal, the plan would result in three Ares I test flights being conducted by the end of 2014.

Current Status:

President Obama’s FY2011 clearly states the cancellation of the Constellation Program via an alternative path which relies heavily on the commercial sector.

In the face of heavy criticism, President Obama announced a slight refinement to the plan, which allowed Orion to survive – but only in a lifeboat role for the International Space Station (ISS) – along with a five year development plan to finalize a design for a Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (HLV).

However, until the US Congress approves the plan – which the next key hearing set for May 12 – CxP can continue to develop hardware and perform tests, even if it’s at a reduced level.

The latest test came only last week, when the PA-1 (Pad Abort) test of the Launch Abort System (LAS) was successfully conducted at White Sands.

Although managers avoided references to the original plan of testing Orion’s pad escape option for the purpose of pulling the crew away from a failing Ares I launch vehicle – instead noting the system may become applicable to commercial launch vehicle – Orion project Mark Geyer summed up the mood of the Constellation workforce’s view of the “new” plan.

“There’s a lot going on with Constellation that you don’t see, as there’s no fire and smoke,” he noted during the post test press conference. “There’s people killing themselves working on this every day, as they believe America should be a leader in space.”

Constellation/HLV Specific Articles:

Ares Test Plan:

Somewhat out of the blue, a potential return of Ares has been created by CxP, although the plan is likely to be one of several proposals that may earn the backing of lawmakers, providing the FY2011 budget is not approved in its current form.

The plan calls for three more tests which will utilize Ares I-X Prime, I-Y and Ares I vehicle designs between 2013 and 2014, working in parallel with a Heavy Lift Vehicle effort – taking the entire test plan out into 2018.“Schedule: FLIGHT TEST 2: Launch Date: March 21, 2013. FLIGHT TEST 3: Launch Date: March 21, 2014. FLIGHT TEST 4: Launch Date: November, 2014,” noted expansive information acquired by L2.

“Heavy Lift: HL-X0 Early MPTA (Main Propulsion Test Article) at SSC (Stennis Space Center) January, 2013. Pathfinder/HL-X1 Core at SSC April, 2014/At KSC November, 2014. HL-X1 September, 2015. HL-X2 September, 2016. HL-X3 September, 2017. HL-X4 September, 2018.”

The information concentrates on the three Ares tests, though graphics show the Heavy Lift Vehicle is an in-line configuration supporting what appears to be an Ares I Upper Stage. The vehicle portrayed appears to have an element of synergy with the previously touted Ares IV.

No mention of required funding, or political and administration decisions, are made in the information, although the plan does state that a decision would be made in May, in order to start work on the test plan on June 1.

The past paragraph is key here, “No mention of required funding, or political and administration decisions, are made in the information…”.

How is this going to be paid for?

Sen. Nelson of Florida recently mentioned asking Congress for an additional $726 million on top of the FY2011 $19 billion originally funded for NASA for one flight test of an Ares 1 variant, but other than that, nothing was discussed.

This is turning into a huge soap-opera with tax-payer dollars as the prize.

Fire ’em all I say!

Ambitious Ares test flight plan proposed for HLV demonstrations

Ad Astra VASIMR !

Anyone who is a space cadet knows about the change in NASA’s budget for FY 2011. If you’re a Constellation Program fan, sucks to be you.

For quite some time now Frank Chang Diaz’s company, Ad Astra Rocket Company, has been trying to make science-fiction come true by developing a space drive engine that couples efficiency with power, the VX-200 that was tested last November.

Well, a lot of folks think that Frank’s engine is bullsh*t, but NASA thinks that a test engine, the VF-200-1 can be mounted on the ISS as an orbital adjuster to take the place of the Russian Soyuz or Progress spacecraft that’s presently used:

The VX-200 will provide the critical data set to build the VF-200-1, the first flight unit, to be tested in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS). It will consist of two 100 kW units with opposite magnetic dipoles, resulting in a zero-torque magnetic system. The electrical energy will come from ISS at low power level, be stored in batteries and used to fire the engine at 200 kW. The VF-200-1 project will serve as a “pathfinder” for the ISS National Laboratory by demonstrating a new class of larger, more complex science and technology payloads.

Now Bolden proposes in 2015 NASA bid on a Chang-Diaz Drive nuclear-powered lunar tug to supply missions to the Moon’s surface:

Future moon utilization will require a great deal of cargo in the form of facilities, machinery, vehicles, and supplies. Present planning assumes that all of this cargo will be transferred from low Earth orbit to the Moon’s surface by chemical propulsion.

An unmanned cargo capability based on VASIMR® propulsion offers significant cost savings to the proposed lunar exploration program.  VASIMR® delivers the highest fraction of the initial mass in low Earth orbit (IMLEO) to the Moon, thereby reducing the cost per kg. In a 6 month lunar cargo mission, a VASIMR® with 5,000 s specific impulse can deliver approximately double the payload mass of a chemical rocket system.


However, the Congress-critters who have Constellation Program manufacturing centers in their respective states’ districts’ have had quite a successful media campaign against the new NASA budget and I gotta give them credit, the “Obama killed American human-spaceflight” Kool-Aid has been drunk by a lot of people. Constellation isn’t quite dead yet. In fact, its death-throes could go on all year.

Eventually though, the future will come upon us all and Diazs’ VASIMR will be the future of Solar System travel.

But as an old college professor of mine said years ago, “The only people who like change are babies with crappy diapers.”

How true.

Ad Astra Rocket Company site

Paratopia Interview: Wes Owsley / French Soyuz Deal

Time to catch up on some of my podcast listening and this gem from Jeremy Vaeni and Jeff Ritmann’s Paratopia caught my ear yesterday with guest Wes Owsley and guest host Tim Binnall (broadcast 2/26/2010).

Owsley was a SysAdmin for NASA/MIR when MIR was still in orbit and for the first three years of the International Space Station. Jer and Tim go over the possibility of a secret space program, exopolitics and Bulgarian Ufology (which was extensive).

Jer and Tim together are outrageous and this was a fun show to listen to.

Paratopia Interview with Wes Owsley

As most space cadets like me know, the Space Shuttle will retire at the end of the year. Also the much maligned Constellation Program dies an ignoble death at the beginning of the next fiscal year that starts October 1st, 2010.

Despite the belated efforts of Congress to fund their pet space program properly after 6 years of going under-funded, President Obama will go full speed ahead on his proposed FY 2011 NASA Budget that eliminates Constellation, but increases the budget by $300 mil/year for 6 years and funds commercial lift to the ISS for Americans (and others who want to pay).

Also Mr. Obamanator plans to push his plan on April 15th at the space center in Florida hoping to turn hearts and minds to his favor.

I doubt that’s going to happen and nothing will save Constellation, even bits of it.

You know why? Because we’ve already paid Russia’s Energia $700 million $omolian$ to build 2 Soyuz’ and 4 Progress cargo ships for us, that’s why.

So you shuttle and Constellation American Exceptionalism huggers/wannabes better wake the f*ck up, shuttle extension and any government built heavy-lift launch rocket ain’t gonna happen. Kiss that sh*t good-bye!

Guess who else to gonna buy Soyuz rockets and rides? And you American Exceptionalist are really gonna like this; The French!

For a cool $1 billion clam$:

“We have ordered 14 Soyuzes from the Russian Federation; the contract’s cost is about $1 billion. These are ambitious plans,” Le Gall said at a Russian-French business forum, held as part of President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to France. His speech was broadcast by the Rossiya 24 TV channel.

The new deal marks another step in cooperation between Russia and France in the space sector. Arianespace signed a contact with Russia’s space agency in 2008 for the launch of 10 Russian Soyuz-ST carrier rockets from the Kourou space center in French Guiana.

Le Gall confirmed earlier reports that the first launch is scheduled for 2010, saying it will take place in the second quarter.

The Russian and French space agencies Roscosmos and CNES on Monday approved a plan of joint work for 2010 as part of a cooperation program on new carrier rockets.

Medvedev’s visit to France will end Wednesday. He has been accompanied by a delegation of 80 Russian business leaders, with officials predicting before the visit that around 10 major deals would be signed during the trip.

Russia’s Gazprom and GDF Suez signed a memorandum Monday on the French utility taking a 9% stake in the Nord Stream gas pipeline project to pump Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea.

Under the deal, the 20% shares of the two German partners, Wintershall Holding and E.ON Ruhrgas, will be reduced, but Gazprom’s 51% stake and the 9% held by Dutch Gasunie will not be affected.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday after talks with Medvedev that Russia and France had started “exclusive talks” on the purchase of four French Mistral-class amphibious-assault ships.

He said two of the four Mistral-class ships under discussion could be built in Russia. The announcement of the talks confirmed earlier comments by a Russian Defense Ministry source that the sale would not be finalized during Medvedev’s visit.

A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 soldiers. The vessel is equipped with a 69-bed hospital and can be used as an amphibious command ship.

Of course there’s some military crap thrown in for the Bilderbergers/banksters, but Energia is cleaning up on this deal too.

That’s a billion divided by 14, something like $71, 430, 000 mil a pop. We paid $116, 666, 666 mil a shot.

Obviously the Frenchies got a partner discount.

How ’bout them ‘Freedom Fries!’  😆

France To Pay Russia One Billion For 14 Soyuz Carrier Rockets

Secret Space – Aliens and the Illuminati?

Far be it for me to be a conspiracy monger (heh-heh), but here is a little tid-bit from 2005 that accuses NASA of being in cahoots with the Illuminati and why we haven’t been back to the Moon in over four decades (and we’re still not going back there, the Constellation Project is cancelled) if we had ever been there at all. (Recent photos indicate we have been though.)

Below is a YouTube clip of Secret Space, a movie that’s chock full of said conspiracies. It has all you want; aliens, Nazis, NASA, Illuminati and UFOs.

It has David Icke though. So take it as you will.

Secret Space


hat tip

More Asteroid Drama

Two weeks ago around Christmas time, the head of the Russian Space Agency, Anatoly Perminov, announced that his agency is going to develop a plan to deflect the asteroid Apophis as it approaches the Earth in 2029.

Now a NASA research scientist, Dr. Paul Chodas, claims that Apophis only has a 1 in 250,000 chance of hitting the Earth in 2029.

But in its close approach to Earth’s gravitational field, chances can be altered:

[…]Apophis (previously known by its provisional designation 2004 MN4) is a near-Earth asteroid that caused a brief period of concern in December 2004 because initial observations indicated a relatively large probability that it would strike the Earth in 2029. Additional observations provided improved predictions that eliminated the possibility of an impact on Earth or the Moon in 2029. However there remained a possibility that during the 2029 close encounter with Earth, Apophis would pass through a “gravitational keyhole”, a precise region in space no more than about 400 meters across, that would set up a future impact on April 13, 2036. This possibility kept the asteroid at Level 1 on the Torino impact hazard scale until August 2006.

Additional observations of the trajectory of Apophis revealed the “keyhole” would likely be missed and on August 5, 2006, Apophis was lowered to a Level 0 on the Torino Scale. As of October 19, 2006 the impact probability for April 13, 2036 is estimated at 1 in 45,000. An additional impact date in 2037 has been identified, however the impact probability for that encounter is 1 in 12.3 million.

Let’s keep in mind that Apophis isn’t the only NEO (Near Earth Object) flying around crossing Earth’s orbit, there are hundreds.

And more are discovered every day.

Recently the Presidential panel that reviewed NASA’s Vision of Space Exploration, the Augustine Commity, listed as an option a plan called the “Flexible Path” to replace the proposed Moon and Mars landings. The main reason for the change was economic, there simply isn’t any money to fund the Moon and Mars plans. But the Flexible Path suggests exploring Libration Points, constructing large telescopes, close Lunar orbits with robot landers exploring the Moon and taking an Hohmann orbit journey to Mars’ moon Phobos.

But the central meme of the Flexible Path is NEO exploration.

In fact, a study was already done by Lockheed-Martin last fall on that very thing:

Call it Operation: Plymouth Rock. A plan to send a crew of astronauts to an asteroid is gaining momentum, both within NASA and industry circles.

Not only would the deep space sojourn shake out hardware, it would also build confidence in long-duration stints at the moon and Mars. At the same time, the trek would sharpen skills to deal with a future space rock found on a collision course with Earth.

In Lockheed Martin briefing charts, the mission has been dubbed “Plymouth Rock – An Early Human Asteroid Mission Using Orion.” Lockheed is the builder of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the capsule-based replacement for the space shuttle.

Study teams are now readying high-level briefings for NASA leaders – perhaps as early as this week – on a pilgrimage to an asteroid, along with appraisals of anchoring large, astronaut-enabled telescopes far from Earth, a human precursor mission to the vicinity of Mars, as well as an initiative to power-beam energy from space to Earth.

The briefings have been spurred in response to the recent Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee and the option of a “Flexible Path” to human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.

In my view, the Russian Space Agency’s announcement isn’t a surprise at all, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised that NASA knew about it before hand!

Just my opinion y’know.  😉

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