December 24, 2011

The Future of the Space Program and How YOU Can Help

You can help influence the future of the space program this election year. Will we reach new heights, return to the moon, and make history with a manned landing on Mars? Will America continue to lead in high technology?

Or will a lack of leadership condemn America to retreat to second place. To watch as other nations reach for the stars and reap the rewards of jobs, investments, inventions, high tech leadership, national pride and so much more. Those truly are the stakes.

The 2012 presidential candidates have not yet developed their positions on space. Some have stated America must continue to lead in space but have not provided any details.

Statements by campaigns will be posted on this page; sign up at the "Sign Up For Updates" box on the right to stay informed --->
LIKE us on Facebook and FOLLOW us on Twitter for more updates. 

Here's where you can make the difference. Contact the campaigns. If you get the opportunity to meet any candidates or their staff, ask them to support a bold space program. Send them emails, sign up for campaign events where you may meet them or their staff. Pass the word to your friends to do the same, and post this everywhere! Post replies you get from candidates and your elected representatives on this page and our Facebook page.

A complete list of candidates is here:

Contact your Senators and Representative, as well as all candidates.

The space program is very popular with the public. Some recent polls which you can link to and use to inform candidates:
Pass the word! Blog it, Facebook it! Email your list! Let's get some action going! You can link to this article, and similar postings are on our Facebook page: 

Read in the COMMENTS link for this posting the statements sent by the Perry and Gingrich campaigns.

(photos credit NASA)

October 5, 2011

Moon and Beyond: Sooner Than You Think--IF We Unite and Lobby Congress in Support

Missions to the moon and beyond are finally advancing! Initial NASA plans didn't call for launching crew on an Apollo-8 type mission until 2021, but now that the Space Launch System (SLS) has been approved, both NASA and Lockheed Martin are pushing to return to the moon sooner--possibly much sooner, and going beyond the moon to deep space as well.

Here is a new PDF by NASA on SLS.

NASA is now looking at advancing an unmanned test flight to 2017 and a manned mission to 2019.

Lockheed Martin (LM), the developer of the Orion/MPCV spacecraft, challenges us to do better; they are proposing a 2017 manned Apollo 8 type mission to the moon or an upgrade/reboost mission to Hubble! They also are proposing a 2018 lunar far-side mission, a 2019 asteroid mission, and much more! Take a look at their Stepping Stones brochure:

  • If you've heard SLS is a mission to nowhere, here's many missions to real and exciting places!
  • If you've heard SLS is a billion dollar crew launch vehicle for ISS, here's what SLS is really being built for!
  • If you've heard SLS would just be used for a couple launches and abandoned, take a look at just some of the many exciting missions we can do with it!
  • If you've heard there are cheaper, faster alternatives to SLS, remember the engineering to make them work may cost billions more and add yet another decade's delay. SLS is therefore the real "cheaper, faster" rocket to take us to the moon and Mars.
  • If you've heard SLS is too large, consider its largest version is only a little larger than Saturn V (130 vs. 118 metric tons), which could only transport a capsule, 3 astronauts and a lander to the moon. 
This IS something to get excited about!

At present LM's concepts are just that--unfunded concepts, though completely technically possible, and they only involve what could be done absent a lander; so they don't show anyone landing on the moon or Mars. The sooner we push to get Congressional support to build the lander and habitats, the sooner companies like LM can draw up plans to establish a base on the moon and then land on Mars! We must push for beginning to establish a base on the moon in this decade, and to land on Mars within the 2020's.

What we are seeing is now that we have a heavy lift rocket under way which is capable of real deep space exploration, America's best and brightest engineers feel a bit 'unleashed' and can finally plan real missions and figure out how to go there sooner than originally planned.

That is where you and me come into the picture; for America's future in space will be our future only if we push Congress, the Administration and candidates to continue and increase support for the Space Launch System (SLS), the Orion/MPCV capsule, the Altair lander, habitats; and for real, exciting missions to the moon, Mars and beyond!

US Congress: 202-224-3121
White House: 202-456-1111
Email/Fax Congress:
Email the President:
Links for 2012 Presidential Candidates:,_2012

September 1, 2011

The Three Solutions to Save ISS From Evacuation

Coalition Director Art Harman developed the following steps which during the Soyuz launch crisis could avoid the need to evacuate part or all of the crew from the International Space Station; a $100 billion investment and indeed the most valuable thing in all humanity. These have been discussed with NASA officials and with key Congressional staff; and the ISS office is now assessing these recommendations.


By Art Harman, Director of the Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration

Download a printable 2-page PDF of these solutions.

The threat to ISS: Without crew, there is a risk which increases with time that in the event ISS is unmanned, a critical equipment failure could endanger the survival of ISS. Last year's cooling pump failure should serve warning that vital equipment can fail at any time.

UPDATE: Russia's loss of the Soyuz 2 in December 2011 demonstrates the continuing risks from a single source for manned launches; and together with the loss of other rockets in 2011 and Phobos-Grunt, that Russia has still not fully understood or solved critical issues in their space program.

Therefore, NASA and the Administration should strongly suggest the Russians implement the following solutions to comply with contractual obligations to provide safe and reliable launch and landing services, and as an ISS partner to avoid the risk from leaving ISS unmanned.

1. Extend the date to return the final three crew members from November 22 to before the December 24th 'expiration date' of Soyuz TMA-02M by landing it at night. According to NASA, Roscosmos will allow night landings in various circumstances. This would only need be considered should the November 14 launch of the crewed Soyuz be delayed beyond the November 22 return date for TMA-02M. It would buy a few weeks time should there be any questions about launch reliability or even for reasons such as weather or crew illness.

2. Establish a Primary Alternate Landing Area for Soyuz in the US or elsewhere for use during winter months when Kazakhstan's weather makes landings more dangerous, or for the periods when a landing would occur during the night. There are weeks of time where orbital paths over Kazakhstan allow only for night time landings, which makes for more difficult search and recovery operations.

The combination of the desire to avoid both winter weather as well as night time landings makes reliance upon a single landing zone less reliable for the safety of ISS crew, and indeed could be negligent given this solution. The shuttles had Edwards AFB and White Sands as alternates, and could land on many airport runways around the world in a true emergency; and ocean-landers like Apollo could likewise land in any ocean or sea if needed.

It is not just a similar crisis or a doomsday evacuation where this matters. A medical emergency could require returning an astronaut on little notice. While an emergency landing could take place at many locations, day or night if absolutely needed, having a prepared alternate zone halfway around the world which is available for routine use in winter months or when Kazakhstan is dark would eliminate this glaring safety flaw. Search and recovery helicopters, aircraft and vehicles could be designated for such use at a nearby Air Force base, and specific equipment can also be stored for use. Plans would be established for emergency responders to take immediate action.

Government land in Nevada or other unpopulated areas in the US, Canada and other countries may fit the needs of such a site. NORAD and FAA aircraft radar systems can do a superior job tracking the descent, and landing in the US also affords greater security and emergency response, as well as rapid access to excellent hospitals.

2a. Designate Emergency Alternate Landing Sites: To achieve near-24/7/365 landing capability, such as for a medical emergency where time is critical, there should be several emergency alternate sites around the world, which would not have pre-positioned supplies and equipment, but would be safe, unpopulated areas to land; are easily reached from air force bases or airports and emergency responders; and are located within some specified distance of a quality hospital. Criteria for selection of emergency alternates would include the ability to get necessary rescue personnel and equipment to the site within the time from when the site was selected for use and/or when the spacecraft undocks.

Read this discussion of Salyut-era emergency landing sites and what if a Soyuz landed in America. Another document shows discussion but no decisions regarding selecting sites in North America:  In short, these reveal that while every spacecraft commander is prepared for emergency landings at any time, there is no evidence that specific sites were ever designated for routine use in dark/weather blackout periods, nor is there any evidence they ever designated a number of ideal emergency landing sites.

All US launch providers should also be required to have designated alternate landing areas following these criteria; whether land or water-landers.

3. Unmanned Soyuz Launch & Reentry Capability: The automatic docking and undocking systems on the new digital-control Soyuz capsules have not been tested in flight, as had been the old systemo not have the formerto allow unmanned launches and landings as did the previous generations. In the event of a similar future launch crisis, ISS could remain at full crew compliment for many additional months by sending unmanned Soyuz capsules to ISS to replace on-orbit capsules when they approach their 200-day ‘expiration date.’ An unmanned launch would not risk human lives, allowing a launch when there may not be full confidence in launching a crewed Soyuz. Therefore, Roscosmos should test and be prepared to use the unmanned launch system in the event of such an emergency.

There is precedent for launching and returning unmanned Soyuz capsules. This involved Soyuz 32, 33, 34, and the Salyut 6 space station in an incident in 1979 when an engine failure forced Soyuz 33 to be aborted. 33 had been planned to deliver a fresh capsule for the station crew to later return to earth in. The engine failure on 33 meant that the existing Soyuz 32 already at Salyut was of questionable reliability as it had the same engine as 33. Therefore Soyuz 34 which had a redesigned engine was launched unmanned for Salyut crew to use, and Soyuz 32 was returned unmanned.

The concept of sending an unmanned rescue capsule worked. The plan for the failed 33 had been from the start to provide a fresh capsule for Salyut crew has likewise been tried and proven. Beyond this crisis, Roscosmos must restore the unmanned launch capacity to avoid evacuating crew in similar circumstances. A one week no-crew situation could get stretched to a month or many months as happened with Discovery’s final launch, so returning crew based upon the expectation of a crew launch within days or weeks could backfire.
Additional Action: Stagger the two sets of crews by close to 90 days to allow the maximum time to correct problems in any future crisis before returning crew. This can't help now, but might be important in a future emergency.

Conclusion: Use of one or more of these solutions might prevent or delay the full evacuation if ISS in various launch crisis scenarios. The most important point is that similar crises could happen again before US crew launches begin. These solutions should become permanent, standard procedures to offer greater levels of safety to the crew and ISS.

In evaluating the necessity of adopting the above solutions, it is important to understand many of the critical threats to the survival of ISS as described in the 'International Space Station Independent Safety Task Force (IISTF).'  Operated unmanned, such threats are greatly magnified.

This website is the source of record for this document. Earlier versions of this may exist on the internet and have been widely distributed. Check for the latest version.

You are invited to bring these solutions to the attention of current and former NASA personnel, space experts, astronauts, the media, members of Congress, and everyone concerned by this threat to the survival of ISS and indeed our entire future manned space program.

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August 24, 2011

Russian Cargo Launch Failure Endangers Space Station

Just seven weeks after the final space shuttle mission, the decisions to kill the shuttle program before American crew and cargo launch systems are in operation are revealed as reckless.

Today, a Russian Progress cargo rocket failed, calling into question when the next crew and cargo missions can occur.

Many times this organization and many, many others warned of the dangers of relying entirely upon others for launches. This should wake up Congress and NASA to the need to save the shuttles, and prepare them for "launch on need" in emergencies.

Due to inevitable delays while Russia investigates the accident, at today's NASA press conference, an official stated, "If we keep with a 6-person crew, we'll need a makeup flight." That they even consider chopping the crew on ISS is worrying and a predictable result of scrapping the shuttles.

Both Russia's crew and cargo launches use the same rocket, and the accident investigation will delay crew launches and returns as the accident until both Russia and the US are satisfied the cause has been found and corrected. There are two cargo and two crew launches scheduled between now and the end of the year.

NASA stated that "Progress' Soyuz-U third stage is similar to the Soyuz-FG used for crew, so the program will assess the crew rotation planned for Sept 7 and 21." 

One question which Russia should answer would be if a Soyuz manned capsule left in the same location successfully re-enter, and thus save the crew?

Earlier this year, United Space Alliance offered a serious plan to take over shuttle launches for five year, flying them commercially and supplying ISS for less money than shuttle launches had cost. This offer should be accepted now, or one more Russian failure could threaten the very survival of the space station.

August 11, 2011

Help Save NASA: Call & Visit "Super Committee" Members of Congress

You can help save NASA. "Super Committee" lobbying calls and visits are needed to save the space program from crippling cuts. The 12 members can save our space program or kill it for a decade or more. Share this with friends and post it everywhere it will help--let's take action now

Cuts in the space program can set us back a decade or more, allowing other nations to out-compete us in high tech.

Senate Republicans: Pat Toomey (PA), Jon Kyl (AZ), Rob Portman (OH).
House Republicans: Jeb Hensarling (TX) Dave Camp (MI), Fred Upton (MI).
Senate Democrats: Max Baucus (MT), John Kerry (MA), Patty Murray (WA).
House Democrats: Chris Van Hollen (MD), Xavier Becerra (CA), and James Clyburn (SC).

Call any member of the House or Senate via the Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.

The committee must agree by Nov. 23 on $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions, and to pass the bill by Dec. 23. If they don't, automatic spending cuts of $1.5 trillion will occur, divided equally between domestic and defense spending. Most or all cuts will come from non-entitlements, meaning space could be hard hit unless we convince them it is a national priority. 

See other postings here for additional information useful for lobbying calls and visits.

Share this with your friends and anyone who will help too! Let's roll!

LIKE our Facebook page to get additional and timely info on many space related activities: and urgent alerts at  

July 27, 2011

VISIT Your Senators and Representative this Summer Regarding the Space Program

It's August, and members of Congress are spending a lot of time at home and are more available to meet with constituents at their state/district offices, and at Town Hall meetings.

Setting up a meeting with a Representative or Senator or their staff is easier than you might imagine. Call their office at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak to their legislative assistant who deals with NASA.

Ask to meet with the member in the district or state office when possible to discuss the importance of the space program as a national priority, that it should be exempted from across-the-board budget cuts and even increased, and discuss how to get manned space back on track.

You can go with a group of fellow space supporters too. Take any supportive information with you to give them. If you end up meeting with a staff member, ask the Rep/Sen to send you a letter after the staffer briefs him on the visit. You will find it easier than you imagine to set up such a meeting, and if you tell the staff that you are willing to meet anytime during August at the member's convenience, that will make it easier to arrange.

Keep the meeting focused on the subject, don't try to cover every issue under the sun or your efforts to get answers and action on the space program will be diluted.

The space program is very popular with the public. Some recent polls which you can print and take with you on visits:
Current debt limit talks indicate many long range spending cuts will be negotiated separately from the debt increase vote, giving us a window in which to get the message across.

During August, there will be many "town hall" meetings too, where you can publicly ask questions. Call their office or check their website or Facebook page for town hall dates. You can video town hall meetings but videoing a one-on-one meeting would likely spoil the desired result.

Try it!  Post the results of your meetings as a comment to this posting, on Facebook, and on space-related websites. Find us at and  

radio talk shows too: One call can alert thousands or even millions, and inspire others to call and visit Congress too. Numbers matter, let's get a FLOOD of Americans pushing Congress to truly support the space program!

Pass the word! Blog it, Facebook it! Email your list! Let's get some action going! You can link to this article, and similar postings are on 

July 25, 2011

Call Congress: Don't Cut Space Exploration, Make it a National Priority

Following how debt limit negotiations are proceeding at this point, decisions on long-term spending cuts will likely be considered separately and later than the debt limit increase.

This gives an opportunity to promote space exploration as a national priority which should not be subject to cuts. Please call your Senators and Representative at 202-224-3121

July 20, 2011

Apollo Astronaut and Former Senator Schmitt on America's Space Program: Past, Present And Future

Harrison Schmitt on the Moon
The 42nd Anniversary of the humankind's first lunar landing by Apollo 11 on July 20, 2011, followed by the return of STS-135 on the next day, concluding the final flight of a United States Space Shuttle, places a capstone on the remarkable accomplishments of the post-Apollo generations of space engineers, builders and operators.

Those of us who were in attendance at the launch of Atlantis on July 8, 2011, felt both pride in this final accomplishment and sadness at another unnecessary, ill-conceived and excessively prolonged break in America's commitment to lead humankind in space. Pad 39A, the Vehicle Assembly Building, and the Crawler Transporter stand in the Florida sunshine as still functional but unwanted relics of past glories. Unfortunately, these momentous events also starkly frame the deficiencies in American space policy relative to long-term national interests. This policy began its slow decline in 1968-69 when the Johnson and Nixon Administrations began the process to end procurements of the Saturn V boosters and spacecraft advocated by Eisenhower and Kennedy for the Apollo Moon-landing Program.

The absence of any significant national goals epitomizes current space policy. That policy lacks any coherent strategy to lead humankind in space and promote liberty there and on Earth. Failure of all Administrations and Congresses since Eisenhower and Kennedy to maintain a sustainable, indefinite commitment to human deep  space exploration and settlement has undermined America¹s status in the world and the technological foundations necessary for national security and economic growth. We have reached a point where America and its partners depend on Russia for future access to the International Space Station. More critically, we will be ceding the Moon and deep space to China. This should be an intolerable situation to American taxpayers who paid for most of the Space Station and whose Astronauts blazed the trail for humankind to the Moon.

President George W. Bush provided the Nation with a space policy in 2004 that met critical geopolitical requirements. If it had been properly funded by Congress, Bush's policy would have created a replacement for the Space Shuttle by 2010 and, more importantly, provided for a return to the Moon on the way to Mars. Mr. Bush, however, did not ask Congress for the funds necessary to fully implement his Constellation Program. Constellation nonetheless could have been executed fully when President Barack Obama took office in 2009, although with a several year delay in the availability of the Shuttle replacement spacecraft (Orion).

President Obama, however, soon canceled Constellation, reflecting his personal bias against American exceptionalism and anything identified with Bush. His visions of largely unsupervised private contractors providing astronaut transportation to space and an unproductive visit to an asteroid are just that, unproven "visions" but hardly visionary. In light of increases of trillions of dollars in recent federal government spending, the $3 billion per year cost of implementing a "shovel ready" and "employment ready" Constellation Program appears, relatively, very small.

The enormous geopolitical damage to America¹s world leadership role that its cancellation has brought about will cost us dearly in the future.

Atlantis's final arrival in Earth-orbit was historically comparable to the arrivals of the last covered wagon at Western destinations just before the Union Pacific, Central Pacific, Santa Fe and other railroads reached rapidly expanding local economies in the late 1800s. Unbelievably, and unlike the replacement of covered wagon technology with railroad technology, no American replacement exists for the Space Shuttle. Now that
Obama has made NASA largely irrelevant in America¹s future, the next President and Congress must consider how to reverse this damage to national security and to the future motivation of young Americans.

The next President must seriously consider focusing United States' space goals on deep space exploration. Until the Space Station must be shut down and deorbited, NASA can continue to be responsible for managing related international obligations. A separate and intense focus on deep space, however, could be accomplished by reassignment of most NASA functions to other agencies and the creation of a new National Space Exploration Agency (NSEA) [see, Essay 46]. This would be a proper tribute to the sacrifices made on behalf of America by the personnel of NASA and its contractors since 1958. A clear commitment to deep space would also restore America¹s geopolitical will to lead humankind into the future.

Harrison H. Schmitt is a former United States Senator from New Mexico as well as a geologist and former Apollo 17 Astronaut. He currently is an aerospace and private enterprise consultant and a member of the new Committee of Correspondence.

July 14, 2011

Radio & News Interviews on the Space Program

This section will not be updated; for the latest interviews, please go to our NEW Media Coverage page: 

Here are recent and upcoming media interviews of Coalition Director Art Harman, discussing the future of the space program.
Listen to and share the podcasts. Radio, TV, newspaper and web outlets are invited to book Mr. Harman for an interesting and informative interview.

Upcoming:  January 31 at 8:10 AM ET on the "Good Mornings" show on WFIN radio in central Ohio to discuss the space program and the ideas of the presidential candidates.

Upcoming:  January 30 Time TBA on the Sarah Palin Radio show, with LaDonna Hale Curzon, Executive Producer and Host; to discuss the space program, Newt Gingrich's speech and related developments.

Upcoming:  January (this week TBA) on 65 stations affiliated with Florida News Network. 40 second report regarding Newt Gingrich's space policy speech. Stations Also will be featured in a print news story.
Upcoming:  January 30 on the nationwide John Batchelor Show to analyze Newt Gingrich's speech calling for a bold new space program. Segment will be in the midnight to 1:00 AM hour.  Podcast available after show.

January 15 on WQYX and 4 other CBS Radio stations in the Tampa Bay area on the "In Touch With Tampa Bay" show; to discuss recent upcoming events in the space program, where presidential candidates stand on space policy, and how listeners can help support the space program by contacting candidates.  WiLD 94.1, 6:30-7:00 AM; WRBQ 104.7, 7:00-7:30 AM; WQYK 99.5, 11:30-12:00 Midnight; WSJT 98.7, 8:30-9:00 AM; WQYK-AM 1010 6:00-6:30 AM

December 27 at 8:30 CT on KMA AM/FM (western Iowa and Missouri, Omaha Nebraska and eastern Kansas) on the Chuck and Don Show to discuss opportunities and threats to the space program, presidential candidates positions on space policy, and how YOU can help. Podcast:

November 21 at 2:30 AM EST on the Goldstein on Gelt Show, on Israeli National Radio and other stations worldwide, to discuss the future of the space program. The world is interested! Goldstein on Gelt Show -- Check out the podcast.

November 1 at 1:15 ET with Jim Lynch on WUSB Radio 90.1 FM to discuss the space program and other issues relating to what made America a truly great nation. Coverage: Long Island, Southern Connecticut, parts of NYC (Brooklyn and Queens), and Westchester County. Podcast may be available soon.

October 5 on the nationwide John Batchelor Show regarding the Space Launch System (SLS), Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan's call for a real vision and plan for manned space, and Lockheed Martin's vision for exciting space missions in this decade. Advance in the podcast to 9:15 for the start of the interview:

September 14 at 2:15 PM ET with Patrick O'Heffernan and Chuck Morse on the Fairness Doctrine Show, regarding the future and the value of our space program. Listen to the podcast The program airs on WDIS AM 1170 Boston area; 1490 WWPR 1490 AM Tampa Bay, Florida; KRKQ-FM Ashland/Medford Oregon; and online at

September 14 on a home-page featured article, where Mr. Harman was interviewed along with former NASA Manned Space Director Christopher Kraft. The article discussed the dangers of evacuating the space station, and briefly mentioned Mr. Harman's solutions which are being evaluated by NASA and are described on this website. Article:
Additional Coverage:

September 1 at 12:55 AM on the nationwide John Batchelor Show regarding the dangers of evacuating crew from the International Space Station and one of the solutions Mr. Harman proposed to NASA, which they are evaluating. Listen at the last 5 min of this podcast, right after the show's theme music:

July 22  Interview with Märkische Allgeimeine, a daily newspaper in Potsdam, Germany on the final shuttle flight, and the present and future of the space program, both commercial and NASA. (in German)

July 17 at 7:50 AM Issues and Ideas with Chris Bello, on 4 New Jersey radio stations:  WHCY-FM, Blairstown, WSUS-FM, Franklin, WNNJ-FM, Newton, WTOC-AM, Newton. Info:
Podcast: - Interview is about 2/3 down the page.
July 12 at 3:20 PM with Pete Ferrand on WRJN Newstalk 1400 AM radio in Racine and Kenosha, WI

July 9 at 12:55 AM on the nationwide John Batchelor Show after the final space shuttle launch, to discuss the post-shuttle world. Listen at the end of this podcast segment:

July 8 on KXYL-FM Radio, Brownsville, TX at 8:10 AM on The Big Show, live from the space shuttle launch site.

July 8th, on WDUN AM/FM at 7:40 AM, ET on the Bill and Joel Show, live from the shuttle launch viewing area. WDUN covers Atlanta and north Georgia. Listen on the radio or online at  

July 8 8:15 AM ET on the Michael Patrick Shiels show on 12 stations in Michigan including WJIM Lansing 1240 AM.
Podcast: Listen to Coalition Director Art Harman Live From Shuttle Launch Area

July 7 at 1:30 PM on CFAX, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on Straight Talk with Dave Dickson.

July 7 with Pete Ferrand on WRJN Newstalk 1400 AM radio in Racine and Kenosha, WI

July 7 11:00 AM on the Mike Pomp Show on WTSN Radio, Dover, NH.

July 6  7:20 PM on the nationwide Leslie Marshall

July 5 with Wayne Metrano and Freddy George's On The Street Show | Listen to the podcast

July 1 at 10:50 PM on the nationwide John Batchelor |

June 30 10:20-11:00 AM with Bryan Allen on CKNX AM 920 Ontario, Canada  Podcast: Listen to Mr. Harman's interview on CKNX Radio

June 30 4-5 AM on KOA Denver on the Rick Barber | Podcast: Listen to Art Harman's Interview about the Space Program
May 29 WQYX and 5 other CBS Radio stations in the Tampa Bay area on the "In Touch With Tampa Bay" show.

May 25 WBZ Radio in Boston at 8:10 AM with Deb Lawler.

May 25 on the nationwide John Batchelor Show regarding the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's historic challenge to go to the moon "in this decade."

July 7, 2011

Watch the Last Shuttle Launch! DON'T MISS IT! How to See it in Person or on Web

Can't make it to see it in person, watch on NASA TV on on TV.
Atlantis STS-132 Launch from Space View Park
Have you ever wanted to watch a space shuttle launch in person? If so, don't miss your very last opportunity, and make your way to Florida for the final shuttle launch.  Atlantis (STS-135) is scheduled to launch no earlier than Friday, July 8 at 11:26 a.m. EDT.

Rain may delay the launch a day or two, check below links for latest news.

A shuttle launch is a spectacular experience!  Kennedy Space Center is sold out of tickets, but check with Dolphin Tours and Gator Tours in Orlando in case they get any more "Causeway" viewing packages.  The Causeway viewing area is the very best. If you do not secure tickets to watch it on the Causeway, I recommend watching it at Space View Park in Titusville, FL where you will not only have a great view but will share the experience with a huge crowd of space enthusiasts and you will hear the live launch announcements and countdown.  Get there many hours in advance for the best view. There are plenty of other locations up and down the coast which offer good viewing opportunities.

Keep up on the news, as the launch could be delayed at any time for reasons of equipment or weather. Each launch "window" usually lasts only for several days, so it if doesn't launch on the scheduled date, attempts can be made for the following several days before being rescheduled for perhaps weeks later.

Will it Launch?
Launch Weather forecast:

NASA Launch Schedule and News:

A brilliant description of a shuttle launch from Jason Davis at it before launch and pass on to your friends!
Part 1: The Countdown
Part 2: The Ascent
Space View Park:,+Titusville,+FL&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=25.426865,53.173828&ie=UTF8&hq=Space+View+Park,&hnear=Titusville,+Brevard,+Florida&ll=28.613233,-80.807104&spn=0.013713,0.025964&t=h&z=15

Excellent Launch Viewing Page:
List of off-base launch viewing sites:

A few sources for shuttle launch information:

Photo credit Art Harman

July 1, 2011

Astronauts Call For Saving Shuttles to Save ISS PLEASE READ AND TAKE ACTION

This is an incredibly vital issue and you'll find other postings on this site providing further information. The near-miss by space junk a few days ago, last year's failure of a cooling pump, and (so far) minor micrometeroid damage to ISS and the shuttle all underscore the absolute necessity to have a way to replace large items on an urgent basis. Simply, nothing but the shuttles can in a timely way deliver replacements. A couple billion a year is cheap insurance for a $100 billion space station.

This is making national news--here's the Washington Post's article, but you and I and our associates can help decision makers understand the significance of this issue.

I urge everyone to call this letter to the attention of your Senators and Representative, and to spread the word around the web, Facebook, Twitter and everywhere else.

June 30, 2011
Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
Administrator National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA Headquarters
300 E Street, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20546
Dear Administrator Bolden,
We believe that the planned retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet after the flight of STS-135 next month will create an unacceptable flight risk for maintaining safe and reliable operations of the International Space Station (ISS). As you well know, the shuttles are the only spacecraft that can provide independent spacewalks for critical ISS repairs.

If an incident or life support failure rendered the ISS uninhabitable, repair spacewalks to restore operations would not be possible from the space station. In a worst case scenario, deterioration and loss of systems on an abandoned ISS could result in an uncontrolled, catastrophic reentry with risks to populated areas around the world. This would have significant ramifications to foreign relations and liability for the United States, Russia and the other countries who participate as partners on the International Space Station. The recent near miss of space debris, which caused the ISS astronauts to seek shelter in the Soyuz spacecraft, is a reminder that a catastrophic accident is a stark possibility.

This issue was the subject of a commentary article we co-authored, published in the June 12th edition of the New York Daily News, which is enclosed. (Link)

The Space Shuttle fleet is the only spacecraft, now operating or under development, that is equipped with the airlocks, life support supplies and robotic arm needed to support the required two-person spacewalking repair crews. We believe the Space Shuttle fleet should be kept in service to provide the capability of independent repair spacewalks in the event that the International Space Station is crippled by a systems failure or accident. The Space Shuttles would also be available to support one or two logistics and science missions per year, provide unmatched capacity to return components and scientific experiments to Earth (with low gravitational loads on crew and cargo during reentry) and extend the reliability of space station operations with a Service Life Extension Program.

The capability of the Space Shuttles to provide the independent repair spacewalks, critical for restoring operations on a disabled ISS, would also be vital for protecting the ISS cargo and crew transport business of the emerging commercial space industry. Keeping the shuttle fleet in service would also comply with a new, internationally accepted flight criteria that we believe should be established: Any object placed in orbit that is too large for an uncontrolled reentry must have a spacecraft available to support independent EVA repairs.
To maintain this vital life safety margin for long-term ISS operations we are requesting the following:

* Congress should request an immediate, 3 week, impartial study and hold emergency hearings on this matter.

* In these hearings, Congress should consider passing emergency legislation ordering NASA to halt all work on modifying the Space Shuttle fleet for museum display. Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour should be stored at Kennedy Space Center in the Orbiter Processing Facility and maintained in such a manner as to keep them flightworthy. Moreover, the Vehicle Assembly Building, Crawler-Transporters, Launch Complex 39-A, Shuttle Landing Facility and other facilities and support equipment needed for Space Shuttle operations should be maintained in place to support future Space Shuttle flights.

* NASA and its International Space Station partners should consider the shared responsibility of developing funding solutions for the continued operation of the Space Shuttle fleet to ensure the long-term safety of space station operations. NASA led plans, as well as commercial alternatives to operate the shuttles commercially, should be presented to Congress and considered to reduce costs and budget impacts.

* To avoid any gap in providing independent repair spacewalks as a safety contingency for the space station, Congress, NASA and the ISS partners should evaluate the option of postponing the launch of STS - 135 until more external fuel tanks and other parts can be built to support additional shuttle flights in 2012.

We appreciate your consideration of our recommendation for NASA and Congress to take immediate action to reverse the retirement of the Space Shuttles. The Space Shuttles are the only solution for restoring space station operations with independent spacewalk repair capabilities. Given the risks and liabilities for NASA and the ISS partners if the International Space Station is crippled by a systems failure or accident, the Space Shuttles are too valuable an asset to be retired into museums. Sincerely,

Christopher C. Kraft
Former Director of NASA Manned Spaceflight Center
Houston, Texas

Scott R. Spencer
Transportation Management Consultant
Wilmington, Delaware

Endorsed by:

Robert L. Crippen, Pilot STS-1, Commander (STS-7, STS-41C and STS-41G)
Frederick H. Hauck, Pilot STS-7, Commander (STS-51A and STS-26)
Walter Cunningham, LM Pilot, Apollo 7
Neil A. Armstrong, Commander, Apollo 11
James A. Lovell, Jr., Commander, Apollo 13
Eugene A. Cernan, Commander, Apollo 17
Gene Kranz, Director of Mission Operations - Flight Director
Tom Moser, NASA Space Station Program Director
John W. Robinson, Chairman, Space Propulsion Synergy Team

cc: President Barack Obama
Vice President Joseph Biden
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson
U.S. Representative Ralph Hall

Can the Shuttles Be Saved? Possible Hint At NASA Press Conference: Call Congress

Watching the June 30 NASA press conference revealed a possible hint of staff support for saving the shuttle orbiters in some way--or at least delaying their destruction as flightworthy spacecraft as long as possible.

In answer to a question about United Space Alliance's proposal to save shuttles, the response was that they did not know if it will happen. They did NOT rule it out. Further, they stated Endeavour (and presumably Atlantis after landing) "will not be released for unrecoverable changes until NASA headquarters orders it."

What this may mean is NASA staff are not in support of destroying the flightworthiness of the shuttles and ending any possibility of a launch on need or the proposed United Space Alliance's takeover. They'll follow orders if "ordered by NASA HQ," which means ONLY if Administrator Bolden (or the White House) orders them to carve up the orbiters.

Certainly saving the shuttles in any form would likely take Congressional pressure and immediate willingness to fund the costs.

Call Congress now 202-224-3121 and ask they pressure the President to at minimum store in flightworthy condition the shuttles and not destroy the launch pad and other infrastructure. To be able to launch, staff would have to be retained and tanks/boosters built or sourced.

This week's space junk near-collision plus last July's failure of the cooling pump shows the continued ability to be able to deliver large items must be continued to assure we don't lose the entire ISS in an otherwise avoidable emergency.

June 30, 2011

Actions YOU Can Take to Support a Successful Space Program

There are many things YOU can do to promote the space program.
  1. Call your Senators and Representative at 202-224-3121 and tell them you do not want to surrender our leadership in space--and indeed America's future as a high tech employer--to China and other nations. Encourage your members of Congress to speak out on the issue--being silent because someone might object to the relatively minor costs will chain America to the ground while other nations leave us in their dust, both technologically and economically. 
  2. Call the White House at 202-456-1111 with the same message. Urge the president to put us back on track establishing a base on the moon--so we can learn how to live on Mars--and go to an asteroid in this decade. Then go to Mars as soon as possible afterwards.
  3. Contact the 2012 presidential campaigns and encourage the candidates to support a space program which will take Americans to the moon and an asteroid in this decade, and to go to Mars as soon beyond as is safe and practical. Just like President Kennedy did, one man can lead America back to greatness!
  4. Space is POPULAR! It is a winning issue. Share this link to recent polls showing Americans support the space program and do not want to lose our leadership to China and others:
  5. Talk it up with your friends and online. Encourage everyone to do the same. Blog it! Get the discussion going on Facebook and Twitter and everywhere else you go online!
  6. Spread the word that the benefits far exceed the costs. The computer and smart phone you use today had its origin in the space program. Same with medical breakthroughs like pacemakers, and so many more things which make our life better every day. Now imagine the breakthroughs in clean, cheap energy and environmental protection we will discover from learning how to live for years in mobile home-sized habitats far from Earth! Space exploration is an investment in our future and prosperity.
  7. Jobs, jobs, jobs! A strong space program will provide well paying jobs for Americans just like it did in years past. Pass the word that space means jobs!
  8. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
  9. Call talk shows to encourage more people to take action.
  10. Nature abhors a vacuum. China, Russia, India and other nations will attract investments in space--and reap the rewards in jobs and inventions if we sit on the sidelines and merely watch. Pass the word we need to get back to leading in space.
  11. What of the costs? Help others understand the costs vs. benefits and the tiny part of the budget that NASA has--less than one cent on the dollar. More is spent (about $20 billion) just to air-condition tents for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan than the entire NASA budget! We strongly support our troops, but that's an example of how little NASA gets for the incredible benefits returned.
Together we CAN get back on track in space and not surrender our jobs and economic future to other nations!

June 28, 2011

A Chilling Reminder of Why Cancelling the Shuttles Endangers ISS

This morning, a piece of space junk or a meteoroid came within just 850 feet of the International Space Station, and to protect the crew they sheltered in Soyuz capsules in case of damage.

Space is never safe or predictable, and today's event underscores the risks created should there be damage or a failure of a large component for which there is no replacement. An example might be one or more solar or cooling panels being damaged by space junk. Indeed just a year ago, a large cooling pump failed, and while there were replacements, what if those are used up over the next few years? They are too large to fit in existing or planned cargo freighters, and the logistics of such a launch and rendezvous might take far too long to save ISS.

In response to my question to NASA and Congressional experts to the question "What contingency plans exist for launching large and critical replacement items;" the answers I have gotten are that there are no known plans. If any such plans were ever made and just filed away so key people today don't know of them, it is time to recover them so immediate action can be taken if ever needed. Further, having plans but no will to actually use them in spite of the cost and complexity to save ISS in a timely manner would be as bad as having no plans. Immediate action would be needed to fit the item in a payload fairing and with precision rendezvous with ISS so it can be captured by a robotic arm.

Minor ISS Solar Panel Damage in 2007
Impact Damage to Endeavour in 2007
At the minimum, Atlantis and Endeavour should have been preserved and kept on "launch on need" basis, and the ideal solution would have been to accept United Space Alliance's offer to continue to operate them for less than current costs. Maintaining such an "insurance policy" would cost just a few billion a year, yet it would protect our estimated $100 billion investment in ISS.

Congress must demand NASA create--and be ready to implement--contingency plans for launching critical replacements to assure ISS need not risk being lost entirely or having modules closed and crew reduced in the event of an emergency for which a single shuttle launch could have saved the day.

Photo credits: NASA