November 4, 2010

Astronaut John Young: Go to the Moon and Beyond

Distinguished Astronaut John Young explains reasons why we must save human space exploration; starting with the Moon.

Click to go to Video
Image credit
Capt. Young served on Gemini 3 and 10, Apollo 10 and 16, STS 1 and 9.

Watch the video:

October 22, 2010

A Billion Reasons to Return to the Moon

The discovery by NASA's LCROSS mission of an estimated billion gallons of water ice on the moon is an incredible boon for exploration, research and industry.

From ice of course comes drinking water, oxygen for breathing, hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel; as well as resources for industry.

Ice on the moon greatly lowers the cost of operating moon bases as such supplies will not have to be hauled at great expense, and it allows rockets to be refueled on the moon--rockets will not need to carry fuel for the return trip.  This makes establishing long term inhabited bases on the moon safer and less dependent on an expensive supply route.

With the discovery of such quantities of ice, the parallels with Mars become even greater. We have essentially every resource and challenge on the moon needed to successfully learn how to live on Mars. Both have ice, abrasive dust, high radiation levels, extremes of temperature, low gravity, and much more. This base, just three days to home in the event of an emergency, is where we will perfect the equipment for Mars and train the astronauts for Mars.

Other finds by LCROSS on the moon include hydrogen, ammonia, methane, mercury, sodium and silver; useful for industry and long term habitation. Lunar "regolith" (dust/soil) contains a great deal of oxygen, silicon, and aluminum, providing yet additional essential resources.

Lunar regolith has a great many uses, including making solar cells from the silicon:

Congress and the Administration should now set as America's top space priority establishing a research base on the moon.

Please contact your Senators and Representative at 202-224-3121, and plus all candidates (via links to their websites at with the message that America must now return to the Moon.

October 13, 2010

Redundancy Needed for Launches to ISS

Damage to the Russian Soyuz capsule has delayed the December launch of the next crew to the International Space Station (ISS), showing the dangers of relying entirely upon Soyuz for launches after America scraps the space shuttles.

By cancelling the shuttles before an American alternative is ready, we are endangering the lives of our ISS crew, and thus endangering the space station itself.  The administration refused to save the shuttles or keep them on a continual "launch on need" basis, thus a national treasure is being thrown away prematurely. Each orbiter was built for 100 launches, yet none have had more than 38 launches.

Redundancy in launch options (shuttle + Soyuz) can assure if one system fails the other can keep supplies going to ISS and continued crew access. The July cooling pump failure on ISS also highlights the need for heavy lift to repair ISS as needed.

This would be a good time to contact your members of Congress to warn them of the need of keeping the shuttles on an emergency "launch on need" basis. US Capitol: 202-224-3121

September 29, 2010

Please Call your Representative Now For the NASA Bill

Call your Representative at 202-224-3121 in support of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010; S. 3729.

This bill is a compromise which will help keep alive many elements of Constellation, perhaps allow for one or two additional Shuttle launches, and rejects the Administration's plan to end human space exploration for decades. The bill is underfunded but perhaps that can be corrected in the lame duck session or early in the new Congress; but all-in-all it represents a better approach than the Administration's. The greatest supporters of the space program in Congress are supporting this.

Please call today. Thank you

August 31, 2010

Constellation Rocket Booster Built and Tested!

As the axe prepares to fall on human space exploration, another element in the Constellation program which could take us to the Moon, Mars and beyond passes a critical test. The new 5-segment solid rocket booster which will power Aires I and V passed a full firing test with flying colors!

Watch the video, cheer for American technology, and call Congress to save Constellation so we can go to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

August 26, 2010

VP: "This is a Chance to Do Something Big!" OK, How About Going to Mars Then?

In a Time Magazine interview regarding stimulus spending, Vice President Biden proclaimed "This is a chance to do something big, man!",8599,2013683,00.html

The First Landing on Mars
(Credit NASA)

Mr. Vice President, there will be nothing bigger in this century than the first human landing on Mars and the establishment of a permanent base on the Moon. And you can make it happen.  A bold, vibrant space program will relaunch America's leadership in high technology and save and create a great many jobs.

Please act now to save the Space Shuttles, build Constellation, and honor JFK's legacy with a bold space program to go to the Moon, Mars and asteroids. Not decades from now, but within 10-15 years.

That's "something big!"

August 25, 2010

CEO of Intel Warns U.S. Tech Leadership Endangered

Intel's CEO Paul Otellini issued a warning this week that government policies are endangering American technological leadership, and that, "the next big thing will not be invented here. Jobs will not be created here.";1n

President Obama's cancellation of human space exploration will accelerate our decline, and it awards a head start of one or two entire decades to China, Russia and others to take over human space exploration. They, not us will be the nations to benefit from the resulting investments and jobs. China's recent announements that they will go to the Moon by 2017, have their heavy lift rocket completed by 2014, and launch next year the first module of their own space station is proof the rest of the world won't wait--they are seizing the power, jobs, investments, and even the national prestige while we plan to go to sleep for decades.

Technological leadership is something which must be continually rebuilt, and with a bold, vibrant U.S. space program we can regain the competitive edge.  Without; we may end up as the country to whom the new great powers in the world will outsource their cheap manual labor.

The Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration calls on the President and Congress to adopt a bold "in this decade" plan to return to the Moon and go to Mars, and in the process rebuild our technological leadership.

Please call and write your Members of Congress (202-224-3121) and all House and Senate candidates, as well as the White House (202-456-1111) with this vital message. The "next big thing" could be invented while preparing for the first human landing on Mars.

August 23, 2010

Mars Exploration Technology Benefits Everyone on Earth

When discussing the space program, you may sometimes hear that it is "a waste of money," that we should "spend the money here where it can do some good," or even that "we can't afford it." What many people may not be aware of is the fantastic number of "spinoffs," or technology developed for space missions which has practical and valuable uses in our daily lives. This is why space exploration is an investment in everyone's future.

The microelectronics and computers which we depend upon today for example were developed in part by the need to miniaturize electronics for the Apollo mission. Those over a certain age will remember bulky tube radios as well as the smaller transistor radios which replaced them. It was the absolute necessity to make small computers for the space program which greatly accelerated this development.

Dust Covering Mars Rover Spirit's
Solar Panels
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Here's an excellent example of a technology designed for Mars which benefits solar energy production on Earth; self-cleaning solar panels. The fine dust on Mars can greatly reduce the efficiency of the solar panels which power rovers and other landers. Dust on Earth-bound solar installations suffer the same problem. Without rigging bulky windshield wipers, how would you solve this problem?

Working with NASA, Malay Mazumder, invented the way to do the job at Boston University:

As with microelectronics, while it would be useful to have self-cleaning solar panels on earth, alternatives are workable if time and energy consuming, such as spraying water on them. A hundred million miles from humanity, that option doesn't exist, and this necessity is what drove the demand to create self-cleaning panels. Perhaps this technology would have been developed sometime soon without the absolute need for use on Mars--or perhaps not.  Result: more efficient solar generation on Earth!

Here's another: radar technology developed to locate subsurface water on Mars will now be used to find water deep under the deserts on earth!

Now imagine the demand to create an almost closed ecosystem to support Moon and Mars colonists for months and years at a time, and you get an idea of how this demand may benefit the environment on Earth.

Space exploration is indeed an investment which will be paid back many times over in technological advances to improve our lives and clean up the environment. We can't afford not to invest in space exploration.

August 14, 2010

Watch How Constellation Will Take Us to the Moon, Mars and Beyond

For people unfamiliar with the Constellation system, and the ways it can take us to the Moon and Mars, it is useful to watch this video prepared by NASA.

The Administration intends to kill the program, ending perhaps for decades the goal of Americans returning to the Moon and making history by landing on Mars. Congress may save it or save a smaller, less-capable version; but we need the full program. Watch what Constellation can do and contact Congress to build the full Constellation system now.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel; watch our videos and share with your friends. We offer some special NASA films which illustrate important aspects of human space exploration.

August 11, 2010

John Glenn: Save the Space Shuttle

John Glenn (NASA Photo)
John Glenn--the first American to orbit the Earth; U.S. Senator; Shuttle Astronaut; and exemplar of the meaning of "the Right Stuff" has a powerful message which Congress must take to heart.
  • Congress must not kill the Space Shuttle program.
  • Build the Constellation system.
  • Go to Mars.
One of the most important points made by Sen. Glenn is that the Space Shuttles are NOT worn out or unsafe.

The fact is that the Shuttle Orbiters were each designed for 100 launches, and none have exceeded 38 launches. To throw them away is to waste America's resources at a time when we need them most and to endanger the Space Station. Further, the shuttles have been constantly updated and improved over the years, and most importantly, the factors which caused the loss of the two Shuttles have been addressed. The solid booster rockets were redesigned, and careful inspection on each mission can spot any damaged or missing tiles.

More can and should be done to improve Shuttle safety; for example the new X-37, a NASA micro-shuttle given to the USAF, has far more durable tiles and composites, ( and a refit with such materials would advance safety. Replacing the solid rockets with safer liquid boosters has been proposed over the years. While the materials to repair tiles on orbit existed since 1980, it was not until after the Columbia tragedy that repair kits were installed on each Shuttle.

Read the "right stuff;" read John Glenn's report on why the shuttles must be kept in operation, as well as many other critical recommendations:

August 10, 2010

Use the Shuttles as (Medium) Heavy Lift--and Get to Mars by 2018

Proposed Shuttle-C
Launch (NASA)
The Space Shuttle system is medium-heavy lift. We have it today!  It could launch everything needed to take us to the Moon, Mars and beyond; just as it launched everything for the ISS. It would take more launches than with Constellation, but it could be done.

The ideal way to use this existing resource would be to build the planned Shuttle-C or Shuttle-Derived Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle, which would be an unmanned cargo carrier with rockets on it, attached to the existing Shuttle external tank and booters in place of the Orbiter. This would greatly increase payload size and weight. This would be the fast-and-cheap interim solution to the Constellation. Neil Armstrong supported this concept in his May 2010 statement to Congress:

Constellation is essential to space exploration because it is "real" heavy lift, but there are zero reasons not to build, and have ready to launch in perhaps two or three years, the Shuttle-C cargo-carrier; and to use it to launch cargo ships to Mars starting with the excellent launch window of 2016.

A few unmanned cargo missions to Mars in 2016 to land the habitation modules, power systems, water-to-fuel plant, and to place 3 communications satellites into Martian orbit would allow for a very well-equipped human mission to Mars at the most optimum (shortest transit time) launch window in 2018.  Such Shuttle-C launches would eliminate the need to modify the existing Shuttle launch pads, saving more time and money. Shuttle-C could launch 3 times the payload of the Shuttle+Orbiter system; 170,000 pounds. Constellation will lift 309,000 pounds--that's why we need it; but until it is ready we should not sit and do nothing. The Mars landing mission would be launched in 2018 using the then-completed Constellation.

Shuttle-C could also take us to the Moon, as it can launch the Moon lander and habitation modules. In either scenario, crew would be transported to the assembled Moon or Mars spaceships/transfer vehicles by regular Shuttle Orbiter flights. Note that the Shuttle Orbiters were designed to last for 100 launches, and none have exceeded 38 launches.

It is a criminal waste of America's resources to scrap the shuttles and to ignore the dirt-cheap Shuttle-C concept; thus needlessly delaying missions to Mars and the Moon.

Congress is urged to authorize the continuation of the shuttle program, to build Shuttle-C cargo pods and to use it to launch payloads for the initial Moon and Mars missions while Constellation is being built. We can land Americans on Mars in 2018!

Proposed Shuttle-C
on Orbit (NASA)
Wikipedia's page on the Shuttle HLV:

More Info:
More Info:

August 6, 2010

Game-Changer: Elon Musk, Space-X and Private Heavy Lift?

The players in private orbital rockets have largely focused on smaller rockets to ferry crew and cargo to the space station and launch satellites. Now, Elon Musk's Space X has discussed developing heavy lift rockets (Falcon X and XX) in the Saturn V class with an eye to running cargo to Mars!
Space X's site:

Courtesy Space X
F9 Rocket
Beyond the advantages of having heavy lift for human space exploration, there are sound business reasons to invest in heavy lift. Space X could offer satellite manufacturers greater payload capacity than NASA, Russian, China and Ariane can currently offer, resulting, for example, in a new generations of larger and more powerful communications satellites, or for launching multiple satellites from one launch.

For Mars, this would be a gamechanger, for it would strip one key weapon from those who seek to kill the space program--never building the rockets. No rockets--no missions. The charade worked for decades, but now the gig may be up.

In analysing this, the danger is in reading too little into it. For if the White House and Congress continue to drag their feet and pretend Mars can wait, then Mr. Musk and other wealthy space supporters could just pool their money, sell sponsorships for the rest, paint "Just Do It!" on the spaceship (for $100 million in advertising) and put together an entirely privately financed mission to Mars!

So how might NASA react? To prove their relevance, they may feel greater pressure to push for funding to actually go to the Moon and Mars. And the White House, robbed of their lie that Mars is only possible in 2035, may be forced to have a change of heart. Congress may also see the light and get serious. None would want to not be part of this! Yes, they can try to regulate-to-death private spaceflight and go back to planning missions to nowhere, so we must keep up the pressure on Congress.

So maybe we can indeed re-cast JFK's vision, and go to the Moon and the asteroids in THIS decade and to Mars very soon afterwards--NASA, Space-X and other private companies could put together a more exciting space program over the next decade than would be possible with either singly. I'll bet we'll see more private ventures developing technology for space exploration.

Now more than ever do we need to put the pressure on Congress to adopt a bold space progam.

Private heavy lift: any more proof needed that America is still great?

Update 8/10/10: Space X backtracked after this announcement, stating this concept was more of an idea discussed at Space X than an planned or actual project. Perhaps the mere discussion of private heavy lift will create sufficient interest from satellite manufacturers to make it worth building. Go ahead and do it, build real heavy lift and step up the pressure to go to the Moon and Mars.

August 4, 2010

Mars by 1981 or 1995!

The technological challenges in going to Mars are great, but not so great that we couldn't have gone there many times by now. Indeed, NASA's plans at the time of the Moon landing were to land on Mars in the early 1980's. And they well could have done so!

Read a summary of Werner von Braun's 1969 plan to land on Mars in 1982--and a 50-person base by 1989!

Politics, not technology, robbed us of our future in space. This time, we must not let politics rob us again of a bold, exciting future of space exploration; one which will help rebuild our economy and provide high-tech jobs and investments for decades to come. Any plan for reaching Mars by 2035 is a "mission to nowhere," and come 2035 the talk will be for a mission to Mars may be by 2069--a century from Apollo 11.

Further, the US is not the only player in space, and the first to Mars and other destinations takes not just the credit for the accomplishment, but most importantly, takes the leadership in technology and thus job and economic growth for a generation or more. The Moon mission secured America's place as the undisputed technological leader in the world--let's not surrender and become the follower; a nation thus declining in wealth to second-rate status.

I urge you to read the linked article about the "Is nuclear propulsion really necessary/Mars in 1995" study. It describes a 1980-1981 plan by Dr. B. C. Parkinson to land on Mars and even to swing by Venus on the return trip to reduce return time. Yes, we could have gone to Mars in 1995, using largely existing technology and hardware circa 1980. We could do an even better job of it today; and in less time too.
Paper description:

That was a bold and innovative plan in 1980, particularly using the Venus return--risky without superior radiation shielding. Given three decades of advances since, it should be considered a mild plan today. This, however is exactly the sort of research we need to use today to create an even better Mars expedition in even less time--and to show sceptics who say it can't be done for decades.

There have been decades of research on how to design Mars and other deep-space missions, and much is completely applicable to today. The basic requirements for the mission haven't changed since Werner von Braun's first plans, and orbital mechanics hasn't changed either. Advances in technology only make the job easier. Compiling and publishing such data for Members of Congress and other decision makers could assist in the goal; let's not waste this collective knowledge. No need to spend years re-inventing the wheel, but to just add in later advances to existing workable technology and science, and to do it.

Selected Mars Mission Plans; the first is most recent:
This 2009 study shows how to go to Mars by 2019 and the Moon by 2017
Manned mission to Mars in 2019, A Proposal for the Augustine Commission July 27, 2009 by Henri Tapani Heinonen. The author specifically addresses the folly of waiting until the 2030's.

A 1997 detailed study for a Mars mission by 2007-2014
Human Exploration of Mars: The Reference Mission of the NASA Mars Exploration Study Team
Stephen J. Hoffman, Editor, David I. Kaplan, Editor, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, July 1997  NASA Special Publication 6107

June 1998 Update to above: Reference Mission Version 3.0 Addendum to the Human Exploration of Mars: The Reference Mission of the NASA, Mars Exploration Study Team, Bret G. Drake, editor, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Mission to Mars, How to Get People There and Back With Nuclear Energy by an MIT team, 2003 Nuclear propulsion can speed up the voyage considerably and reduce rediation exposure; and free us from the narrow 26-month minimum-power launch windows. 
Here's an innovative though risky plan to take us to Mars quickly and cheaply:
Three Shuttles To Mars by Michael J. Coppi. Why just retire them to museums? This 2009 plan sends out our three space shuttles on the Mars trip, including one which would end up landed on Mars. While impractical due to it's risks, it is mentioned here because it shows the many possible ways to Mars--and the incredible but untapped capabilities of the Shuttles. Not mentioned in this plan is the fact that the shuttles in theory might have at any time been used to go to the Moon, with a lander in the payload bay and by attaching a suitable external fuel tank at the ISS.

NASA's 2009 ReferenceMission to Mars:
Here is a NASA report giving brief summaries of 50 studies for Mars missions:
Humans to Mars, Fifty Years of Mission Planning, 1950–2000 by David S. F. Portree

335 Moon and Mars Mission Plans, compiled by David Portree:
Dr. Werner von Braun's 1965 article on manned Mars mission by 1986:
When Will We Land on Mars? Popular Science article from before Apollo! The technology may be outdated, but the concept of the basics needed for a Mars mission has not changed much.

Wikipedia has compiled information on many Mars Mission plans:

Analysis of an unmanned Mars Sample Return mission. Return Martian soil

Mars Expedition Images: What would a Mars mission look like? Beautiful artist's renderings from Jack Frassanito in 1997 will take you there. Let's together make what's pictured here into reality.
Ever get the idea that human missions to Mars have been "studied to death," and that it's time to "just do it?"

Please forward to us any research papers and plans you may be aware of so we may include them in research compilations for members of Congress, the media and others. Who has copies of detailed plans from NASA's Apollo-era Mars mission and or other plans/studies/diagrams/blueprints for manned space exploration, space industrialization?

Simply, it is not true that we must wait until 2035 or later to reach Mars. Nuclear, ion or other technologies will eventually shorten the travel time to weeks--such would be valuable and would be used at the start or as soon as practical; but if not practical for the first missions, that should not dictate delays or it will not ever happen. Let not the perfect be the enemy of the good.

The explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries did not wait for steamships, GPS navigation or Boeing 747s to explore the world. No; they went in spite of the many risks, long voyages and great hardships, and we too should boldly explore space--now!

August 3, 2010

Support the Senate Bill--Now

At present there are two legislative proposals regarding the space program. The House and Senate bills, plus the Administration's request.  Of these, the Senate bill is more favorable to the goal of keeping alive the shuttles and heavy lift until we can build public support for a bold "in this decade" plan to go to Mars, the Moon and the asteroids.

So call your Senators supporting the NASA Appropriation bill--call right away as the Senate will likely vote anytime in the next couple days. Please also call your Representative in support of the Senate bill, not the worse House bill. Thank you.

August 1, 2010

Scrap Shuttles = Endanger ISS

The news today (August 1, 2010) is that the ammonia-coolant cooling system on the space station has partially failed due to a failed pump. With traditional "right stuff" skill and creativity, there is little doubt it can be quickly repaired, but it exposes the criminal folly in scrapping the space shuttles.

Ammonia Tank in Shuttle
Update on EVAs to repair the cooling system:

Here's the gory details: should the cooling system ever spring a leak, delivering the 1,800 pound replacement ammonia tank (ATA) would almost certainly require the capabilities of the space shuttle. The weight is OK for Progress, but not the size. Other system failures can only be supplied by shuttle missions, such as replacing the huge solar or cooling radiator panels. Please read the linked article about micrometeorid damage to the radiator panels:

The astronauts and mission control want to send the 780 pound pump back to Earth so it can be inspected to find out why it failed. But the final two shuttles are totally filled up for the return trip and won't be able to return it. Progress can't return it; the shuttle is the only way to return the pump.

What else could fail on the ISS which requires the shuttles to deliver or return? Probably a dangerously long list of items.

That's the reality of it. Scrap the shuttles and you spin the roulette wheel that some failure won't happen which can only be fixed using the resources of the shuttles and their cargo/return capability.

Congress: Save the Shuttles. Cancel the layoff notices immediately. Resume building the fuel tanks and solid boosters. Fly the shuttles at some minimal rate to ensure their continued launch capability until new heavy lift is available. Or wait until a preventable failure destroys America's 100 billion dollar investment in our future. That would be a crime of unbelievable magnitude.

July 30, 2010

Radiation Shielding

Imagine being to shield with relatively small electromagnets a spacecraft's inhabitants from the powerful solar wind radiation beyond Earth's magnetosphere. And imagine finding areas on the Moon and Mars which have natural radiation shielding.

Solving radiation hazards would open up the entire solar system to safe human travel.

Take a read and see how science has again taken the "fiction" out of science fiction:

In brief:
  • Scientists at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in the UK have demonstrated how small magnets can deflect charged particles similar to the solar wind. This puts into practical reach the ability to shield astronauts on the long voyages to Mars, asteroids and the outer planets.
  • Regions on both the Moon and Mars have been found with small naturally-occurring magnetospheres, allowing for inhabitation with less or perhaps even no radiation shielding.
Video showing areas on Mars with natural shielding:
Discovery of area on the Moon with some shielding:

One less issue Congress need worry about, let's go!

Watch RAL's 29 second video for an excellent animation and demonstration.

July 25, 2010

Please Join The Distinguished Scientists Project

To Distinguished Scientists in all fields:

Consider the incredible progress of mankind over the past several centuries. Technology, medicine, you name it; it has been the dedicated scientist behind so much of our progress.

The opinions of scientists are highly regarded by the public and by Congress. By lending your name to saving the manned space program, you will be making a valuable contribution to the cause which can continue to benefit all of humanity.

You are invited to join the list of Distinguished Scientists in support of saving and expanding the manned space program. Email your contact information (will not posted, only for confirmation); a brief CV or bio--or better yet, a link to it online; and a brief statement in support of any or all of the following:
  • Saving the Space Shuttles until private replacements are ready.
  • Building the existing Constellation system or an improved heavy-lift/lander/crew capsule system.
  • A bold manned space program to go to the Moon, Mars and an asteroid in this decade or as soon as is possible.
More detailed papers and analyses are invited as well. Additionally, you are invited to ask your colleagues to add their voices; please send them this invitation to join the Distinguished Scientists Project.

You may also wish to call or write your members of Congress and members of key Congressional committees, as well as candidates for Congress; offer to testify before Congress; write a letter to the editor of newspapers; write articles for scientific publications, post messages on scientific and other websites and blogs; be a caller or guest on talk shows; and in any other way use your influence to help save the manned space program.

This is a completely non-partisan project which benefits every American and indeed all humanity.

A separate page or series of pages will be added to this website containing the names, titles (for identification only) and brief statements of all Distinguished Scientists. The list will also be sent to Congress, and may be featured in public service advertisements on television, internet or newspapers.

Thank you very much for your service to humanity and for lending your name to saving the space program in this time of need.

Send to:

Spinoffs: One of many benefits of the space program

Beyond national security issues, beyond the value of having a positive national goal, beyond job creation and attracting technological investments; benefits of the space program include the development of so many products we use daily--and too often and take for granted. Space is an investment in our future, and the investments we made in going to the Moon helped establish the USA as the technological leader in the world.

A bold and reinvigorated space program can again bring us great advances in technology/clean energy/environmental sciences, well-paid jobs as well as to keep tech investments from fleeing the USA to those countries who are eager to seize our lead.

Here are some spinoffs which NASA considered most important in 2000.
NASA Spinoff Chart (click for larger size)

July 23, 2010

Just Add Air: the Solution to Moon and Mars Visit/Colony/Spacecraft Logistics

How are we going to actually build structures large enough for long visits (weeks or months) or colonies on the Moon, and for more than a year on Mars? Many people will imagine the logistical difficulties in hauling huge and heavy structures such vast distances. The need to shelter people against radiation and meteoroid impacts may seem insurmountable (think thick and heavy metal walls).

Mr Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace has of course been developing inflatable modules for exactly this sort of purpose. Those who have been following his plans to build a private space station using inflatable modules will also understand the possibilities of using similar inflatable structures on the Moon and Mars. Relatively lightweight and small, these will be easier to transport. He's had a test module on orbit undergoing long term tests. By the time we are ready to develop equipment for deep space missions, the inflatables will have had a few years on orbit to thoroughly prove the concept.

You won't even need to transport inflation air to Mars, just bring a compressor. Solar ovens will eventually be able to cook out oxygen and other gasses on the moon.

A couple inflatable modules could also be used as the core of a Martian spacecraft. Several modules launched separately and connected and outfitted at the space station could, along with a rocket module and the lander, comprise the majority of a Mars spacecraft. For the long journey each way, the inflatable modules would offer greater living and storage space than may be easily launched using metal modules. Such a Mars spacecraft could be parked at the space station between missions, and be re-supplied with fuel and consumables. A similar design could also be used as a regular shuttle to the Moon, offering great space for supplies and people. Certain plastics offer greater radiation shielding than metal, as does water--water tanks can surround crew compartments.

Referring back to my earlier post on using Lunar and Mars caves, inflatable structures could be set up in such caves for unbeatable long-term radiation and impact shielding. The caves maintain a fairly constant temperature, therefore dramatically reducing heating and cooling needs.

Don't think that 'long term' logistics aren't also valuable for relatively short visits. Landing such modules will allow repeated short visits to be well-equipped and more productive, in the same way that the base camps at Mount Everest offer a permanent support base for mountain climbers. The modules could be landed robotically on Mars in advance of the arrival of the crew.

Inflatables indeed are a advance in size, weight and shielding.

July 22, 2010

From Deep Space to Deep Water Drilling

Here's my letter to the editor in today's Washington Times detailing an incredible error of omission by both the Administration and BP--by not planning to drain the well (pump it out and sell it), they are creating a potential time bomb which could seep oil and natural gas for centuries, or if the "bottom-kill" plug deteriorates over the decades and centuries, it could again flood the Gulf. Please use your influence and contacts to help get this corrected.

Drain Oil Well to Ensure no Future Leakage

Washington Times 9:34 a.m., Thursday, July 22, 2010

The possibility that the capped Deepwater Horizon well may be leaking at points kilometers from the wellhead calls for the only guaranteed and permanent solution ("BP, feds at odds over cap on well," Nation, Monday).

We need to use the current wellhead apparatus or the first relief well not to plug the well, but to put the well into standard oil and gas production. This will immediately relieve the 9,000 pounds per square inch of pressure causing the seepage, and by eventually draining the reservoir, there will not be leakage or a blowout now, in a decade or even in a thousand years. Guaranteed.

The presence of the second relief well and properly following best-practices drilling procedures will insure against another blowout, and BP can sell the resulting oil to help pay for the cleanup.

The current plan to use the relief well to inject a "bottom kill" plug may not work if there are fissures in the bedrock, which might be a cause of the current leaks, and the plug itself could fail at some later decade or century in various ways, including earthquake damage.

Drain the well, don't seal it.
Art Harman

July 20, 2010

The 41st Anniversary of the Moon Landing!

Watch the historic landing and first step on the moon on this, the 41st anniversary! Then resolve to keep the dream alive for the future and call/write Congress to go to the Moon, Mars and an asteroid in this decade!

U.S. National Security, the Space Station, and Scrapping the Space Shuttles

Unremarked in the news are the national security dangers in giving Russia an absolute monopoly on US crew launches to the space station (ISS) after the space shuttle program is scrapped and until the time private launch systems are available.

After the final space shuttle mission, the US will be completely dependent upon Russian launches to the station, opening up the US to potential extortion by an increasingly aggressive Russia to demand concessions in US foreign, economic, trade and defense policies to continue providing launches.

Russia has already taken advantage of their upcoming monopoly by doubling the price for launches. This is international cooperation?

Troubling signs: Russia's initial reaction to the discovery of the 10 Russian spies in the US was to blame us for discovering their spies, not apologizing for spying on us. Also, Russia cut off natural gas to Europe in a dispute with the Ukraine:

Who would rule out any possibility of Russian 'leverage?' Suppose there is a foreign policy crisis, a war, or Russia invades a former USSR republic--what price in US policy might Moscow extract to keep launching our crew, or to even allow US crews to ever use the station again?

Should relations in a crisis or war become bad enough, might Russia declare ownership of the ISS, knowing they control all possible U.S. access? One clue may be in their agressive actions at the North Pole:
Finally, the incident on July 2, 2010 where an unmanned Russian Progress cargo ship completely missed the space station (later it was brought under control and docked) shows technical risks which could endanger the space station.
Indeed it was a Russian Progress which crashed into the Russian Mir space station in 1997, almost causing it's destruction. The circumstances then were unusual, but illustrative of the potential for damage; for the July 2 Progress could have crashed into the ISS as easily as missing it entirely. The linked account of the 1997 incident is fascinating reading; showing the "right stuff" of astronaut Foale in computing how to stabilize the spinning station, and the entire crew in saving the station by fast action:

There are many ways the US and its ISS partner Russia can and should cooperate in space and with ISS, however it is unwise for the United States to rely entirely upon Russian launches for a period of years.

Keeping the space shuttles in continued service (not just adding one or two final missions) until American replacements are ready is essential for our national security.

One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind

41 years ago today, men from the planet Earth set foot on the surface of the moon, stating "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Truly the greatest accomplishment of mankind. Today, the president is determined to kill the dream and end American manned space exploration; scrapping the space shuttles and the Constellation rockets which would take us to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

The Bear Stearns bailout cost about $30 billion. A year in Iraq and Afghanistan costs about $130 billion. Let's show where our priorities should be; let's launch a bright, exciting future for all Americans--and rebuild our economy as a result!

Let's put NASA back on track and make all Americans proud!

July 19, 2010

Senate Actions

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has included in its appropriations bill one last flight for Atlantis in 2011 and a "back to the drawing board" approach to Constellation; requiring a new heavy lift system to be ready by 2016--about the same development time as the Saturn V.

Left for later is what to do with the heavy lift rockets come 2016, and we should also work to adopt and fund a true timetable to go to the Moon, Mars and an asteroid. The administration's vague plans won't get us there.

Call, fax, email and write Congress today to save manned space exploration! 202-224-3121 --

Ice and Caves Make Moon and Mars Visits & Colonies More Practical

Members of Congress who may be sceptical about the ability to support long-term colonies on the Moon and Mars should be pleased to learn of recent discoveries regarding water ice and caves.

Water ice has been found at craters at the lunar north pole, which opens up the possibility of creating a nearly self-sustaining colony which can create rocket fuel, and agricultural and drinking water with great ease.
"Tons of ice found on the moon:"

Ice in Martian
Even more important, given the far greater distance to Mars, are discoveries in recent years of vast quantities of water ice.

Caves on both the Moon and Mars, spotted by openings called "skylights" where lava tubes broke open to the surface offer three incredible bonanzas if colonies are located inside such caves: Shielding from radiation; shielding from meteoroid/micrometeoroid impacts; and like on Earth, such caves will be at a fairly constant, average temperature which will greatly reduce heating and cooling needs.
Lunar Caves:
Mars Caves:

These are truly exciting discoveries, for they will make long-term visits or colonies far easier and less expensive--and even more interesting!