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From PayPal founder Elon Musk about his Space X private rocket project:

 

March 28, 2007

DemoFlight 2 Update: Post Flight Data Review Positive

 

Having had several days to examine the data, the second test launch of Falcon 1 is looking increasingly positive. Post flight review of telemetry has verified that oscillation of the second stage late in the mission is the only thing that stopped Falcon 1 from reaching full orbital velocity. The second stage was otherwise functioning well and even deployed the satellite mass simulator ring at the end of flight! Actual final velocity was 5.1 km/s or 11,000 mph, whereas 7.5 km/s or 17,000 mph is needed for orbit. Altitude was confirmed to be 289 km or 180 miles, which is certainly enough for orbit and is about where the Space Shuttle enters its initial parking orbit.

 

This confirms the end of the test phase for Falcon 1 and the beginning of the operational phase. The next Falcon 1 flight will carry the TacSat 1 satellite for the US Navy, with a launch window that begins in September, followed by Razaksat for the Malaysian Space Agency in November. Beyond that, we have another nine missions on manifest for F1 and F9. Note, the first F9 mission will also be a test flight and the three NASA F9/Dragon missions are all test flights for Dragon.

 

Telemetry shows that engine shutdown occurred only about a minute and a half before schedule (roughly T + 7.5 mins), due to the oscillations causing propellant to slosh away from the sump. When the liquid level in the tank was low, this effectively starved the engine of propellant. A disproportionate amount of the velocity gain occurs in the final few minutes of flight, when the stage is very light, which is why the velocity difference is greater than just linearly subtracting 1.5 mins from the burn time.

 

Except for a few blips here and there, we have now cleaned up the raw data feed and recovered video and telemetry for the entire mission well past 2nd stage shutdown. Including all the launch pad video and ground support equipment data, we have somewhere close to a terabyte of information to review. This was far too much to send over the T1 satellite link from Kwaj and had to be brought over in person after the flight. Given that a number of our engineers have only just returned from Kwaj, please consider this still a preliminary analysis:

 

In a nutshell, the data shows that the increasing oscillation of the second stage was likely due to the slosh frequency in the liquid oxygen (LOX) tank coupling with the thrust vector control (engine steering) system. This started out as a pitch-yaw movement and then transitioned into a corkscrewing motion. For those that aren't engineers, imagine holding a bowl of soup and moving it from side to side with small movements, until the entire soup mass is shifting dramatically. Our simulations prior to flight had led us to believe that the control system would be able to damp out slosh, however we had not accounted for the perturbations of a contact on the stage during separation, followed by a hard slew to get back on track.

 

The nozzle impact during stage separation occurred due to a much higher than expected vehicle rotation rate of about 2.5 deg/sec vs. max expected of 0.5 deg/sec. As the 2nd stage nozzle exited the interstage, the first stage was rotating so fast that it contacted the niobium nozzle. There was no apparent damage to the nozzle, which is not a big surprise given that niobium is tough stuff.

 

The unexpectedly high rotation rate was due to not knowing the shutdown transient of the 1st stage engine (Merlin) under flight conditions. The actual shutdown transient had a very high pitch over force, causing five times the max expected rotation rate.

 

We definitely intend to have both the diagnosis and cure vetted by third party experts, however we believe that the slosh issue can be dealt with in short order by adding baffles to our 2nd stage LOX tank and adjusting the control logic. Either approach separately would do the trick (eg. the Atlas-Centaur tank has no baffles), but we want to ensure that this problem never shows up again. The Merlin shutdown transient can be addressed by initiating shutdown at a much lower thrust level, albeit at some risk to engine reusability. Provided we have a good set of slosh baffles, even another nozzle impact at stage separation would not pose a significant flight risk, although obviously we will work hard to avoid that.

 

I will be posting another DemoFlight 2 post launch update within a week, which will include a list of all subsystems color coded for status: green = good, yellow = cause for concern, red = flight failure if unchanged, black = untested. Of the hundreds of subsystems on the rocket, only the 2nd stage LOX tank slosh baffles are clearly red right now, but that could change with further analysis. As much as is reasonably possible (subject to ITAR and proprietary info), SpaceX will provide full disclosure with respect to the findings of the mission review team.

 

The Difference Between a Test Flight and an Operational Satellite Mission

 

There seems to be a lot of confusion in the media about what constitutes a success. The critical distinction is that a test flight has many gradations of success, whereas an operational satellite mission does not. Although we did our best at SpaceX to be clear about last week's launch, including naming it DemoFlight 2 and explicitly not carrying a satellite, a surprising number of people still evaluated the test launch as though it were an operational mission.

 

This is neither fair nor reasonable. Test flights are used to gather data before flying a "real" satellite and the degree of success is a function of how much data is gathered. The problem with our first launch is that, although it taught us a lot about the first stage, ground support equipment and launch pad, we learned very little about the second stage, apart from the avionics bay. However, that first launch was still a partial success, because of what we learned and, as shown by flight two, that knowledge was put to good use: there were no flight critical issues with the first stage on flight two.

 

The reason that flight two can legitimately be called a near complete success as a test flight is that we have excellent data throughout the whole orbit insertion profile, including well past second stage shutdown, and met all of the primary objectives established beforehand by our customer (DARPA/AF). This allows us to wrap up the test phase of the Falcon 1 program and transition to the operational phase, beginning with the TacSat mission at the end of summer. Let me be clear here and now that anything less than orbit for that flight or any Falcon 1 mission with an operational satellite will unequivocally be considered a failure.

 

This is not "spin" or some clever marketing trick, nor is this distinction an invention of SpaceX -- it has existed for decades. The US Air Force made the same distinction a few years ago with the demonstration flight of the Delta IV Heavy, which also carried no primary satellite. Although the Delta IV Heavy fell materially short of its target velocity and released its secondary satellites into an abnormally low altitude, causing reentry in less than one orbit, it was still correctly regarded by Boeing and the Air Force as a successful test launch, because sufficient data was obtained to transition to an operational phase.

 

It is perhaps worth drawing an analogy with more commonplace consumer products. Before software is released, it is beta tested in non-critical applications, where bugs are worked out, before being released for critical applications, although some companies have been a little loose with this rule. :) Cars go through a safety and durability testing phase before being released for production. Rockets may involve rocket science, but are no different in this regard.

 

---Elon

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Caves on Mars.

 

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/0704...mars_caves.html

 

 

"Space.com is reporting on the discovery of seven dark spots near the Equator on Mars. The thinking is that these are cave openings. The openings are the size of football fields, and one of them is thought to extend approximately 400 feet below the surface.'The researchers hope the discovery will lead to more focused spelunking on Mars. "Caves on Mars could become habitats for future explorers or could be the only structures that preserve evidence of past or present microbial life ," said Glenn Cushing of Northern Arizona University, who first spotted the black areas in the photographs.'"

 

 

Falken

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WARNING! NOT FOR DIAL-UP USERS AND SMALL HARD DRIVES DUE TO LARGE FILE SIZES!

 

I'm having a difficult time with DSL already. :(

 

Website posting HiRISE* images of Mars: http://hiroc.lpl.arizona.edu/images/PSP/ For the FULL SIZE image (hundreds of MB large!), site says you'll need a JP2 viewer (IrFan will do). Got it from Sky & Telescope magazine which I abstracted yesterday. Says if you got HD, check it out there. Pix are amazing.

 

*- High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, an instrument on the Mars Recon Orbiter

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Pizza Delivery in 9 Months or Less

 

Summary (Mar 27, 2007): Researchers have developed a software tool for modeling interplanetary supply chains in order to better understand the requirements for establishing human bases on the Moon and beyond.

 

http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.php?o...r=0&thold=0

 

Falken

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WARNING! NOT FOR DIAL-UP USERS AND SMALL HARD DRIVES DUE TO LARGE FILE SIZES!

 

I'm having a difficult time with DSL already. :(

 

Website posting HiRISE* images of Mars: http://hiroc.lpl.arizona.edu/images/PSP/ For the FULL SIZE image (hundreds of MB large!), site says you'll need a JP2 viewer (IrFan will do). Got it from Sky & Telescope magazine which I abstracted yesterday. Says if you got HD, check it out there. Pix are amazing.

 

*- High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, an instrument on the Mars Recon Orbiter

 

 

Cool photos, Tomas! I haven't tried downloading the 900+ MB files though. :o

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Bigelow reveals plans:

 

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/sto...p;channel=space

 

If Genesis II is launched successfully, Bigelow will have two modules aloft. The company's spectacular Las Vegas control room with 18 large wall mounted screens and several console positions is every bit as impressive as the International Space Station control room at the NASA Johnson Space Center. The space hardware and impressive control center means that Bigelow -- means business.

 

Some commercial crew launch and resupply missions would fly from Cape Canaveral as new commercial launchers servicing Bigelow outposts and the International Space Station.

 

The flights on vehicles like the SpaceX Falcon 9 could be a major new growth area for the Cape, using new systems that would take advantage of the shuttle workforce as shuttle missions halt going into 2011.

 

But Russian launches or flights from Woomera, Australia, and other new commercial launch facilities are part of the plan that Bigelow will brief at Colorado Springs this week. The NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) competitors SpaceX and Rocketplane Kistler will be heavily involved, as could other launcher/spacecraft concepts, including Russian Soyuz and, eventually, Chinese Shenzhou missions. Even outfits like Blue Origins could fly to Bigelow modules.

>

We are working very intently on the transportation part even though we are the destination," Bigelow says. By 2016 the plan is for three flights per month going to Bigelow outposts.

 

"Our company would contract with a transportation provider and we would essentially broker the transportation and the seats to our clients," he said. " So we would be buying "X" number of flights per quarter or per year. In our first full year of operation, we are probably looking at 12-14 flights, which is a very aggressive pace," he says.

 

"The price is going to include all the costs of launch fees and range fees and cost of recovery.

 

" It will include also the cost of training the client. We will have a what we think will be a high fidelity regimen and process for astronauts to familiarize themselves and that's the term I'm using for clients that are flying to space, -- astronauts." So the fee will include those training costs. It will also include insurance."

 

Bigelow said the company will be buying liability insurance that is separate from whatever the launch provider may or may not have. And Bigelow will provide its own insurance to its passenger astronauts.

 

"We will have a profit and overhead fee on top of all that. Those components comprise the final cost that we will charge a client. As our launch costs drop, we can pass those savings on to our clients," he said.

 

The launch costs would be a function of traffic, and the frequency and quantity of flights.

>

The first operational manned Bigelow outpost would involve the launch of the first Sundancer in 2010, the launch and docking to that module of a propulsion bus and central node module, followed in 2012 and 2013 with the launch of BA 330 large habitation modules.

 

All of the modules would be inflatables, but the node, like on the ISS, would be a solid docking interface.

 

The second similar outpost would be completed by 2014 and a third outpost, again with two BA 330s as the larger elements would be completed by 2015.

 

The outposts would offer different mission uses. For example Bigelow expects one will be devoted to microgravity users who do not want a lot of human activity to spoil the microgravity environment for the experiment cargos. And they will be launched into different orbital inclinations to support user needs. Higher inclinations overfly more Earth terrain.

 

 

 

I can see why they were impressed by Bigelows Mission Control:

 

 

Falken

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Water found in Exoplanet's atmosphere.

 

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/0704..._exoplanet.html

 

Astronomers have detected water in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system for the first time.

 

The finding, to be detailed in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal, confirms previous theories that say water vapor should be present in the atmospheres of nearly all the known extrasolar planets. Even hot Jupiters, gaseous planets that orbit closer to their stars than Mercury to our Sun, are thought to have water.

 

The discovery, announced today, means one of the most crucial elements for life as we know it can exist around planets orbiting other stars.

 

Falken

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Early Earth Was Purple, Study Suggests

 

 

By Ker Than

LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 10 April 2007

10:41 am ET

 

 

 

The earliest life on Earth might have been just as purple as it is green today, a scientist claims.

 

Ancient microbes might have used a molecule other than chlorophyll to harness the Sun’s rays, one that gave the organisms a violet hue.

 

Chlorophyll, the main photosynthetic pigment of plants, absorbs mainly blue and red wavelengths from the Sun and reflects green ones, and it is this reflected light that gives plants their leafy color. This fact puzzles some biologists because the sun transmits most of its energy in the green part of the visible spectrum.

 

“Why would chlorophyll have this dip in the area that has the most energy?” said Shil DasSarma, a microbial geneticist at the University of Maryland.

 

 

After all, evolution has tweaked the human eye to be most sensitive to green light (which is why images from night-vision goggles are tinted green). So why is photosynthesis not fine-tuned the same way?

 

Possible answer

 

DasSarma thinks it is because chlorophyll appeared after another light-sensitive molecule called retinal was already present on early Earth. Retinal, today found in the plum-colored membrane of a photosynthetic microbe called halobacteria, absorbs green light and reflects back red and violet light, the combination of which appears purple.

 

Primitive microbes that used retinal to harness the sun’s energy might have dominated early Earth, DasSarma said, thus tinting some of the first biological hotspots on the planet a distinctive purple color.

 

Being latecomers, microbes that used chlorophyll could not compete directly with those utilizing retinal, but they survived by evolving the ability to absorb the very wavelengths retinal did not use, DasSarma said.

 

“Chlorophyll was forced to make use of the blue and red light, since all the green light was absorbed by the purple membrane-containing organisms,” said William Sparks, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Maryland, who helped DasSarma develop his idea.

 

Chlorophyll more efficient

 

The researchers speculate that chlorophyll- and retinal-based organisms coexisted for a time. “You can imagine a situation where photosynthesis is going on just beneath a layer of purple membrane-containing organisms,” DasSarma told LiveScience.

 

But after a while, the researchers say, the balance tipped in favor of chlorophyll because it is more efficient than retinal.

 

“Chlorophyll may not sample the peak of the solar spectrum, but it makes better use of the light that it does absorb,” Sparks explained.

 

DasSarma admits his ideas are currently little more than speculation, but says they fit with other things scientists know about retinal and early Earth.

 

For example, retinal has a simpler structure than chlorophyll, and would have been easier to produce in the low-oxygen environment of early Earth, DasSarma said.

 

Also, the process for making retinal is very similar to that of a fatty acid, which many scientists think was one of the key-ingredients for the development of cells.

 

“Fatty acids were likely needed to form the membranes in the earliest cells,” DasSarma said.

 

Lastly, halobacteria, a microbe alive today that uses retinal, is not a bacterium at all. It belongs to a group of organisms called archaea, whose lineage stretches back to a time before Earth had an oxygen atmosphere.

 

Taken together, these different lines of evidence suggest retinal formed earlier than chlorophyll, DasSarma said.

 

The team presented its so-called “purple Earth” hypothesis earlier this year at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), and it is also detailed in the latest issue of the magazine American Scientist. The team also plans to submit the work to a peer-reviewed science journal later this year.

 

Caution needed

 

David Des Marais, a geochemist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, calls the purple Earth hypothesis “interesting,” but cautions against making too much of one observation.

 

“I’m a little cautious about looking at who’s using which wavelengths of light and making conclusions about how things were like 3 or 4 billion years ago,” said Des Marais, who was not involved in the research.

 

Des Marais said an alternative explanation for why chlorophyll doesn’t absorb green light is that doing so might actually harm plants.

 

“That energy comes screaming in. It’s a two-edged sword,” Des Marais said in a telephone interview. “Yes, you get energy from it, but it’s like people getting 100 percent oxygen and getting poisoned. You can get too much of a good thing.”

 

Des Marais points to cyanobacteria, a photosynthesizing microbe with an ancient history, which lives just beneath the ocean surface in order to avoid the full brunt of the Sun.

 

“We see a lot of evidence of adaptation to get light levels down a bit,” Des Marais said. “I don’t know that there’s necessarily an evolutionary downside to not being at the peak of the solar spectrum.”

 

Implications for astrobiology

 

If future research validates the purple Earth hypothesis, it would have implications for scientists searching for life on distant worlds, the researchers say.

 

“We should make sure we don’t lock into ideas that are entirely centered on what we see on Earth,” said DasSarma’s colleague, Neil Reid, also of the STScI.

 

For example, one biomarker of special interest in astrobiology is the “red edge” produced by plants on Earth. Terrestrial vegetation absorbs most, but not all, of the red light in the visible spectrum. Many scientists have proposed using the small portion of reflected red light as an indicator of life on other planets.

 

“I think when most people think about remote sensing, they’re focused on chlorophyll-based life,” DasSarma said. “It may be that is the more prominent one, but if you happen to see a planet that is at this early stage of evolution, and you’re looking for chlorophyll, you might miss it because you’re looking at the wrong wavelength.”

 

I considered putting this under my Biotech update thread, but it fit better here.

 

Falken

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How so?

Falken

 

Okay, maybe not a nail in the coffin, but the more the rest of the universe appears to be like our immediate environment, the more logical it becomes that we're here because the universe happens to be the way it is, not that the universe is the way it is in order for us to be here.

 

I find the whole idea that this is some kind of news to be a little bit amusing in any case. We've kown for decades from spectroscopy that water can be found in interstellar dust clouds. Where do new stars and planets come from? Interstellar dust clouds. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'...

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I can't resist:

:lol:

 

 

Bondage photos found in ex-astronaut’s car

 

Racy scenes stored on disk; currency, pills also seized, documents show

 

 

ORLANDO, Fla. - A police search of former astronaut Lisa Nowak's car turned up bondage photos on a computer disk, British currency and pills, according to documents released Tuesday by prosecutors.

 

A judge last week agreed to unseal some of the documents in the Nowak's case. She is accused of trying to kidnap a rival for a space shuttle pilot's affections.

 

Nearly all of the 16 images found on the disk depicted bondage scenes, according to a forensic examination report by the Orlando Police Department. Some of the images showed a nude woman while others were drawings.

 

The documents did not make clear whether Nowak was the woman in the photos or who the disks belonged to.

 

Also found were nearly $600, 41 British pounds and four brown paper towels with 69 orange pills. State law enforcement are testing the pills to determine what they are, authorities said.

 

Investigators also examined two USB drives found in the car that contained family pictures, digital movies and NASA-related materials.

 

They concluded that information found on the disk or the two USB drives did not have any direct evidence related to the attempted kidnapping, the report said.

 

Nowak's attorney, Donald Lykkebak, declined to comment Tuesday on the newly released documents.

 

Nowak was arrested in February after police say she drove from Houston to Florida to confront Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman. Authorities have said Nowak had an affair with Shipman's boyfriend, Bill Oefelein. She pepper-sprayed Shipman through a partially lowered car window, an arrest affidavit said.

 

Police said they found a BB gun, new steel mallet, a knife and rubber tubing in Nowak's possession. Nowak, 43, pleaded not guilty to attempted kidnapping, burglary with assault and battery. NASA released Nowak from the astronaut corps a month after her arrest. Her trial has been moved to September.

 

 

This photo, released by the Florida State Attorney's Office in Orlando on Tuesday, shows items including a wig, a bag, a hammer and a stun gun that were recovered from the car driven by NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak after she was arrested in February and accused of trying to kidnap a romantic rival.

 

 

 

British currency, pills, and a Target bag huh? Add that to the list! It's bound to show up somewhere as 'signs someone is going off the deep end: purchase, talk of purchase, or hoarding of the following: BB gun, new steel mallet, a knife, wig, rubber tubing, adult/astronaut nappies, British currency, pills, and a Target bag' :lol:

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Water found in Exoplanet's atmosphere.

 

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/0704..._exoplanet.html

Falken

 

No one would have believed in the last years of the twentieth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon HD209458b, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twenty-first century century came the great disillusionment. :unsure:

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I can't resist:

:lol:

Bondage photos found in ex-astronaut’s car

 

Racy scenes stored on disk; currency, pills also seized, documents show

ORLANDO, Fla. - A police search of former astronaut Lisa Nowak's car turned up bondage photos on a computer disk, British currency and pills, according to documents released Tuesday by prosecutors.

 

A judge last week agreed to unseal some of the documents in the Nowak's case. She is accused of trying to kidnap a rival for a space shuttle pilot's affections.

 

Nearly all of the 16 images found on the disk depicted bondage scenes, according to a forensic examination report by the Orlando Police Department. Some of the images showed a nude woman while others were drawings.

 

The documents did not make clear whether Nowak was the woman in the photos or who the disks belonged to.

 

Also found were nearly $600, 41 British pounds and four brown paper towels with 69 orange pills. State law enforcement are testing the pills to determine what they are, authorities said.

 

Investigators also examined two USB drives found in the car that contained family pictures, digital movies and NASA-related materials.

 

They concluded that information found on the disk or the two USB drives did not have any direct evidence related to the attempted kidnapping, the report said.

 

Nowak's attorney, Donald Lykkebak, declined to comment Tuesday on the newly released documents.

 

Nowak was arrested in February after police say she drove from Houston to Florida to confront Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman. Authorities have said Nowak had an affair with Shipman's boyfriend, Bill Oefelein. She pepper-sprayed Shipman through a partially lowered car window, an arrest affidavit said.

 

Police said they found a BB gun, new steel mallet, a knife and rubber tubing in Nowak's possession. Nowak, 43, pleaded not guilty to attempted kidnapping, burglary with assault and battery. NASA released Nowak from the astronaut corps a month after her arrest. Her trial has been moved to September.

 

 

This photo, released by the Florida State Attorney's Office in Orlando on Tuesday, shows items including a wig, a bag, a hammer and a stun gun that were recovered from the car driven by NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak after she was arrested in February and accused of trying to kidnap a romantic rival.

British currency, pills, and a Target bag huh? Add that to the list! It's bound to show up somewhere as 'signs someone is going off the deep end: purchase, talk of purchase, or hoarding of the following: BB gun, new steel mallet, a knife, wig, rubber tubing, adult/astronaut nappies, British currency, pills, and a Target bag' :lol:

 

I was going to post that :P :P

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Griffin maps out NASA's moon and Mars plans up to 2057

 

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/content/?cid=5048

 

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has given his thoughts on the direction the US space program will be taking over the next 50 years, specifically on the exploration of the moon and eventually Mars.

Griffin outlined the future - which he believes will "begin" once the shuttle is retired in 2010 - with his projected 2022 end date for the International Space Station, moon base plans and the potential for nine missions to Mars within a 20 year period.

'The Shuttle offers truly stunning capability, greater than anything we will see for a long time, but the expense of owning and operating it, or any similar system, is simply too great,' he added. 'Any new system, to be successful, must offer a much, much lower fixed cost of ownership.

 

'The Space Shuttle was designed to be cost effective at a weekly flight rate, a goal that was never credible, if for no reason other than the fact that the funding for so many payloads to fly on it was never remotely available. And, if there were a predictable requirement for 50-60 government-sponsored payloads to be flown annually, that fact should be treated as a market opportunity for a private, not government, space transportation enterprise.

 

On the Lunar Outpost:

'For the sake of argument and nothing more, let us say that in 2022 we will begin a sustained lunar program of exploration and development consisting of three manned missions (two outpost crew rotations and one sortie) and one unmanned cargo mission per year, utilizing three Orion/Ares I vehicles and four Ares V launches.

 

'Present projections assume a cargo capacity of six metric tons on a lander carrying four crew members, and twenty metric tons on a cargo lander, at a marginal cost of about $750 million for a human mission and $525 million for a cargo mission. The marginal cost in Fiscal 2000 dollars for this nominal lunar program will thus be about $3 billion.'

A critical look at what is neccessary:
Most of the next 15 years will be spent re-creating capabilities we once had, and discarded. The next lunar transportation system will offer somewhat more capability than Apollo. It will carry four people to the lunar surface instead of two, and for a minimum duration of a week, rather than a maximum duration of three days. But in all fairness, the capabilities inherent in Orion, Ares I, and Ares V are not qualitatively different than those of Apollo, and certainly are not beyond the evolutionary capability of Apollo-era systems, had we taken that course. But we did not, and the path back out into the solar systems begins, inevitably, with a lengthy effort to develop systems comparable to those we once owned.

 

Falken

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  • 2 weeks later...

NASA's Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) satellites have returned 3D images of the sun.

If you have your red and blue 3D glasses handy (I always keep mine next to my PC-- honestly!) you really need to check out these incredible 3D photos and movies of the sun in action:

 

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/stereo/main/index.html

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Take it from somebody who relates abstractions to reality all day long -- metric is a soul-destroying artificiality that should be banned as a danger to the human race. English/Standard/Imperial/whatever is based on the measure of man and things in his world. It may not be as neat and clean and divisible by 10, but neither is the real world. It makes more sense to the average person, whether or not all of the people who use metric wish to admit it.

I know people who wouldn't admit it because they aren't used to imperial, and hence don't see how it's "based on the measure of man" at all. In what way are fluid ounces or tons more a measure of things in a man's world than millilitres or tonnes? I suppose the "average person" you mention bears an uncanny resemblance to yourself?

 

Actually, the more I read your post the more I suspect you are joking ....

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I'm surprised no one caught this one:

 

"Robots might install rocket engines to send dead spacecraft careering back into the atmosphere, or ground-based lasers might be used to zap debris."

 

Ummm, the laaaaazer is gonna fire through ALL the atmosphere and still pack enough oomph to destroy orbital debris? :blink:

Well, there's your 'big fucking thing' right there! Besides being HUGE and a black hole in the budget, we'd have to brown out the entire nation to fire it! :lol:

There are so many more plausible ways to to get rid of space debris than ground based lasers...

That's interesting. Can anyone to the appropriate calculations to work out exactly how much MW a ground-based laser would need to destroy a target in orbit, assuming perfect weather conditions?

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Guest aevans
I know people who wouldn't admit it because they aren't used to imperial, and hence don't see how it's "based on the measure of man" at all. In what way are fluid ounces or tons more a measure of things in a man's world than millilitres or tonnes? I suppose the "average person" you mention bears an uncanny resemblance to yourself?

 

Actually, the more I read your post the more I suspect you are joking ....

 

I may be being a bit hyperbolic for effect, but at bottom I'm not joking at all. Standard/Imperial units are based on things in the real, tangible world surrounding man (even if they are arbitrarily sized in some sense). A gallon is a volume that is easy enough to visualize. A pound is a weight equally easy to sense (not to big to pick up, not too small to be meaningless to a human's gross sensory perception). Quarts, pints, and ounces are all easily understood subdivisions of the larger measures.

 

Everything metric is based on powers of ten subdivisions of a single theoretical line that stretches further than a man can see unless he's several thousand miles out in space. While that may be neat and clean mathematically, it doesn't relate man to the world around him. I just don't think that things necessarily should be judged -- or measured -- based on pure utility. Aesthetics do count.

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