You Can’t Go Home Again

Do we really need to put a man on Mars this badly?

Scientists Propose One-Way Mars Spaceflights

Two U.S. scientists have proposed a unique and somewhat controversial solution to the challenges presented by a potential mission to Mars–they suggest making it a one-way trip.

In their article “To Boldly Go: A One-Way Human Mission To Mars,” which has been published in the latest edition of the Journal of Cosmology, authors Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University and Paul Davies of Arizona State University propose that nixing a return flight “would cut the costs several fold but ensure at the same time a continuous commitment to the exploration of Mars in particular and space in general.”

“It would also obviate the need for years of rehabilitation for returning astronauts, which would not be an issue if the astronauts were to remain in the low-gravity environment of Mars,” they added, arguing that equipment from the Constellation project–a scrapped return mission to the moon–could be used to send two spacecraft, each containing two astronauts, a landing unit, and enough supplies to establish an outpost, to Mars.

See also:
To Boldly Go: A One-Way Human Mission to Mars
Scientists Propose One-Way Trips to Mars
Mars Exploration Should be Done in a One-Way Trip, 2 Scientists Say
How to make boots on Mars affordable – One way trips
The fastest way to send humans to Mars is to not worry about bringing them back
Dirk Schulze-Makuch, WSU Professor, Proposes One-Way-Trips to Mars
Will the First Mars Explorers Be the First Mars Settlers?
Scientists propose one-way trips to Mars
Scientists propose one-way trips to Mars
Wanted: Pioneers to take a one-way trip to Mars
A One-Way Trip to Mars

In some ways, this plan appears to have some merit, although it just doesn’t seem to fit with America’s history of space exploration, always planning for the safe return of our astronauts.

/I suppose though, if we plan on continuing manned space exploration to ever more distant destinations, eventually the distances and time involved will make a return trip impractical, if not impossible

The Most Powerful Solid Rocket Motor Ever Canceled

You don’t really think that Obama will actually let the most powerful solid-fuel rocket engine ever produced ever become part of the U.S. space program, do you?

Ares I Five-Segment SRB Lights Up

NASA and Alliant Techsystems (ATK) conducted the second test of the fully developed Ares five-segment solid rocket motor, known as Development Motor-2 (DM-2), on Aug. 31 at ATK’s test facility in Promontory, Utah.

With a roar that reverberated across the surrounding countryside and a blowtorch-bright light, the DM-2 came to life on schedule at 9:27 a.m. MDT. The 2-min. 5-sec. test checked out key design elements of the Ares rocket, which the Obama administration wants to cancel in favor of nurturing commercial means of carrying crew and cargo to low Earth orbit.

The firing of the motor was conducted to collect data on 53 different test objectives. Some of the elements tested include the new insulation, the redesigned rocket nozzle and the motor casing’s liner. When activated, the DM-2 produced about 3.6 million lb. of thrust, equaling 22 million hp. The motor was instrumented with 760 sensors to collect performance data.

At T-0, the engine was ignited and the propellant from the nozzle of the DM-2 sent out a jet of flame. The eruption that followed produced a visible shock wave.

See also:
ATK tests solid rocket motor near Promontory
NASA Tests Rocket Engine Formerly Known as Ares
NASA’s Record-Setting Solid Rocket Enjoys Successful Test-Fire
NASA tests new solid rocket motor, but will it have a rocket to use it?
NASA Tests Engine With an Uncertain Future
Big rocket booster in second test
Nasa booster rocket passes test
NASA’s Biggest-Ever Solid Rocket Shakes Utah
NASA’s booster rocket passes test in Utah

Remember, the DM-2 is part of the Constellation program that Obama cut from the NASA budget when he scrapped U.S. plans to send astronauts back to the Moon.

/Obama doesn’t like space exploration, it wastes money he could be spending bailing out all his union buddies or otherwise buying Democrat votes with massive, “spread the wealth around”, social welfare programs

Space Exploration In The Age Of Obama

Now that Obama has canceled the Constellation program and scrapped NASA’s plans to return to the Moon, NASA has been reduced to pretending to explore space, you know, when their not busy fulfilling their new prime directive of reaching out to Muslims.

NASA releases videogame, Moonbase Alpha

NASA has abandoned plans to return to the Moon but videogamers can explore the lunar landscape with a free new online game released by the US space agency.

“Moonbase Alpha” allows players to join an exploration team in a futuristic 3D settlement on the south pole of the Moon.

“In Moonbase Alpha, you assume the exciting role of an astronaut working to further human expansion and research,” NASA said in an explanation of the game.

“Returning from a research expedition, you witness a meteorite impact that cripples the life support capability of the settlement.

“With precious minutes ticking away, you and your team must repair and replace equipment in order to restore the oxygen production to the settlement,” NASA said

To accomplish their mission, players of the “first-person explorer” game use an interactive command center, lunar rover and mobile robotic repair units.

“Proper use and optimal allocation of their available resources are key to the team’s overall success,” NASA said.

NASA said the game is designed to “engage and educate students about agency technologies, job opportunities and the future of space exploration.”

Moonbase Alpha can be played by one or up to six players. NASA said it is a precursor to a planned NASA-based “multiplayer online game project.”

See also:
NASA releases free-to-play online game
New NASA Game Hands Over Keys to Virtual Moonbase
Game review: Virtual lunar life on NASA’s ‘Moonbase’
NASA releases videogame, Moonbase Alpha
NASA goes Lunar with online video game
NASA releases new online videogame about a lunar adventure
NASA Moonbase Alpha Now Available On Steam
Does a moonbase make for a good video game?
Moonbase Alpha Overview
Download Moonbase Alpha from STEAM

NASA, the once great symbol of American science and technology, relegated to making video games and reaching out to Muslims, anything except for the purpose it was created for, space exploration.

/what a shame, how the mighty have fallen

The Little Rover That Could

Opportunity makes the most of its opportunity.

NASA’s Mars Rover Opportunity Sets Longevity Record

Nov. 11, 1982 was a bittersweet day on Earth. It was Veterans Day; the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington would be dedicated that weekend. And at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., engineers made a mistake.

They were trying to nurse along the Viking 1 lander on Mars, which had touched down there in 1976 — and surprised them by surviving in the eternal cold there for six years, three months, and 22 days. They transmitted new commands to the ship’s computer so that its batteries would hold a charge better. By accident, they erased data that helped the lander aim its antenna to Earth. Viking 1 was never heard from again.

But its record for longevity has stood. Until now.

Today the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which landed on Mars on Jan. 25, 2004, becomes the longest-lasting earthly visitor ever to the Martian surface. It is still going after 2,247 “sols,” or Martian days. It was designed to last for 90.

“Remember, 90 days is when the warranty runs out,” said Steve Squyres, the principal investigator for Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit, after they landed three weeks apart. “It’s not when the wheels fall off.”

Opportunity’s six wheels have occasionally gotten stuck, and one of them will no longer steer. Its circuit boards have had to withstand the subzero temperatures of Martian winters, and another is beginning. Its solar panels, at times, have been covered with fine red silt, which made them almost useless for gathering sunlight to make electricity. Life on Mars is tough.

But the solar panels have mercifully been blown clean every time by gusts of wind, much to the relief of NASA engineers. Careful maneuvering has gotten Opportunity out of the sand — once after six weeks of trying. Today they celebrated Opportunity’s record by doing what they’ve been doing since 2008 — keeping the rover on a forced march to a large crater called Endeavour, now eight miles away on the horizon.

See also:
New Record Set for Longest Mission on Mars
Mars Rover Surpasses Viking 1’s Longevity Record
Longevity Record on Mars for a NASA Space Rover
Mars Rover Sets Endurance Record
Mars rover surpasses Viking 1’s longevity record
NASA Mars rover Opportunity breaks longevity record
Opportunity rover breaks Mars longevity record
Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Home
Mars Exploration Rover

/now that’s what’s called bang for the buck, if only Congress were this efficient with our tax dollars

Obama Adds Astronauts To The No Fly List

No Shuttle plus no Constellation program equals U.S. manned space flight grounded.

White House won’t fund NASA moon program

NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the moon are dead. So are the rockets being designed to take them there, if President Obama gets his way.

When the White House releases its budget proposal Monday, there will be no money for the Constellation program that was to return humans to the moon by 2020. The Ares I rocket that was to replace the space shuttle to ferry humans to space will be gone, along with money for the Ares V cargo rocket that was to launch the fuel and supplies needed to return to the moon. There will be no lunar landers, no moon bases.

“We certainly don’t need to go back to the moon,” one administration official said.

Instead, according to White House insiders, agency officials, industry executives and congressional sources familiar with Obama’s plans, NASA will look at developing a “heavy-lift” rocket that one day will take humans and robots to explore beyond low-Earth orbit. That day will be years away.

The White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change — and on a new technology research and development program designed to someday enable human exploration of asteroids and the inner solar system.

See also:
Obama aims to ax moon mission
Obama to End NASA Constellation Program
US plan to return to moon ‘is dead’: administration advisor
White House killing NASA’s moon mission, reports say
President Obama to Propose Abandoning NASA’s Moon Plan
Obama to suggest end of NASA moon program
Speculation about NASA’s future swirls in advance of Obama’s budget request
Battle brewing over Obama’s NASA plan
NASA Workers Anxious About Obama’s Commitment to Space
Rebel Engineers Sit With NASA to Chart Future of Manned Space
Good Night Moon
Obama Says, No Moon For You!

To put things in perspective, Obama and the Democrats are now talking about wasting another $80-200 billion on another unnecessary, worthless “stimulus” after already wasting $1 trillion on the first worthless “stimulus”. Just yesterday, Obama announced that he was passing out $8 billion for unprofitable choo choo trains!

NASA’s annual budget is less than $20 billion, yet these out of control, tax and spend peons can’t dig in our taxpayer pockets for a few measly billion dollars more to fund something worthwhile, U.S. manned space flight. I guess they can’t figure out how funding space exploration translates into buying Democrat votes.

/the moral of this story is, if any of your children are dreaming of growing up to be an astronaut, they’d better learn how to speak Chinese and/or Russian

It’s Fallen, But Can It Get Up?

NASA hopes to free Mars rover from ‘sand trap’

After months of tests and analysis, engineers plan to beam commands to NASA’s Spirit Mars rover Monday, kicking off a long-awaited attempt to free the hardy craft from the talcum powder-like soil of a hidden crater that trapped it last April.

“Spirit’s facing the most challenging situation it’s seen yet on the surface of Mars,” Doug McCuistion, director of NASA’s Mars exploration program, said Thursday. “We know a lot of people around the world…view Spirit with great affection, exploring the Red Planet along with it, experiencing the excitement, seeing new and exciting vistas, seeing new landscapes, uncovering some incredible new knowledge about our sister planet.

. . .

“I’d like everybody to be hopeful, but I’d also like them to be realistic,” he said. “If Spirit cannot make the great escape from this sand trap, it’s likely that this lonely spot, straddling the edge of this crater, might be where Spirit ends its adventures on Mars.”

. . .

Last April 23, the six-wheel Spirit was slowly rolling backward on the western side of a feature known as “Home Plate,” heading toward the south and a pair of volcanic structures that scientists wanted to examine. The rover was driving backward because its right front wheel stopped working in 2006.

The ground to the south of Spirit looked normal, but as it rolled along, its wheels broke through an upper-crust-like layer of soil and into a softer, unseen material.

“Essentially, the rover was driving on what we call a dirt crust,” said John Callas, the project manager of the Mars exploration rovers at JPL. “It was a hard surface that we broke through, and underneath this material, camouflaged underneath, was this loose, fine material where the rover is challenged right now.”

Scientists later determined that Spirit’s path was straddling the rim of an ancient, 26-foot-wide crater just beneath the surface. The crater was filled in with sulfate sands that formed layers with different compositions.

Initial attempts to drive out in a crablike fashion by turning the front and back wheels in the same direction only made matters worse.

See also:
NASA to try to free stuck Mars rover Spirit
NASA unveils plan to free sand-trapped Mars rover
Engineers desperate to move plucky Mars rover
NASA to power Mars rover out of sand trap
Unsticking Spirit
NASA Unveils Plan To Unstick A Mars Rover
NASA tries to dig out its stranded Mars robot
Spirit Rover Wiggles Her Wheels
Mars Exploration Rover Mission
Spirit rover

Well, this seems to be quite the heroic rescue attempt for a rover that’s already five years past its three month life expectancy. Go NASA!

/what’s really amazing is that Obama hasn’t canceled this project yet, it must be costing quite a bit of money that he could be wasting on pet Democrat social boondoggles like ACORN instead

Launch It Quick, Before Obama Cancels It

NASA’s Ares 1-X Rocket: Space Shuttle Replacement?
Or Rocket to Nowhere? NASA Preps for Test, Though Obama Could Cancel Program

This isn’t your daddy’s space ship — but it is something your grandfather might recognize. The Ares 1-X rocket sitting on the launch pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center is ready to go, scheduled for launch Tuesday morning, if the weather holds.

It won’t go far on this trip, but NASA hopes it will eventually take astronauts beyond low Earth orbit and — someday — on to Mars.

This launch follows a less-than-wholehearted endorsement by the Augustine Commission, the presidential panel that spent this past year reviewing the future of the U.S. space program.

The Ares is supposed to replace the 30-year-old space shuttle, which is scheduled to quit flying by the end of 2011 after six more missions. Ares, the commission concluded, will cost too much and take too long to really be a practical replacement. The plan was to have it ready to fly by 2015, but 2017 is more realistic. NASA’s only option, meanwhile, to get astronauts to the space station is to buy seats on the Russian Soyuz.

Augustine Commission: NASA’s Plans ‘Unsustainable’

To get to the moon and then eventually go on to Mars will take much more money and technology than the U.S. space program has now, according to a report released today by an independent panel convened, at White House request, under former aerospace executive Norman Augustine.

The Augustine Commission made several recommendations today for NASA:

. . .

The panel said it might be an option to scrap the Ares 1 booster, and use other rockets instead.

See also:
Ares I-X Liftoff Set for Tomorrow Morning
Ares 1-X test flight cleared for launch Tuesday morning
NASA Unveils Ares 1-X Rocket for Historic Test Flight
The NASA Ares 1-X rocket is set for launch — but watch those clouds!
Will Weather Ground Ares 1-X Rocket Test Launch?
Nasa unveils Ares 1-X rocket amid doubts over future funding
Ares 1-X Rocket Scheduled To Launch
Obama Considering Ares Cancellation, Orion Scale Back
Obama May Cancel Space Shuttle Replacement
Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee
Ares I-X

So, we’ve got six more shuttle flights to go and Obama’s thinking of cancelling the replacement program. Priorities, Obama can spend a trillion dollars on Democrat pet projects and call it “stimulus”, but he can’t seem to finde a few billion dollars for NASA.

/be sure and watch tomorrow’s launch, future American space flight could become a rarity