December 24, 2012

Christmas at the Moon with Apollo 8

44 years ago on Christmas Eve, Apollo 8 was the first to orbit the moon.

As lunar sunrise approached, the astronauts gave their Christmas message, including reading portions of Genesis. Watch this 2 minute video, and imagine you are in 1968 and part of the largest (at the time) TV audience in history, hearing America's astronauts at the moon. You are seeing the moon through the window of the Apollo capsule. Let there be light!

Credit NASA

Let's not let missions to the moon remain only in the history books, but return to the moon in this decade so we can learn how to live on Mars--then let's go to Mars!

Harrison Schmitt: The Strategic Importance of Exploration to America

The Strategic Importance of Exploration to America by Apollo 17 Astronaut and Former Senator Schmitt 

Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt next to a huge, split lunar boulder. 
Credit: NASA/Eugene Cernan
Major national milestones have occurred with the recent passing of Neil Armstrong, the first man to step on the Moon, and this month’s 40th Anniversary of Apollo 17, America’s last mission of exploration to that small planet. They provide an opportunity to examine how great ventures play a strategic role in the growth and survival of the United States. 

At critical times, America’s national leadership, including Congress under its treaty and funding powers, has actively recognized the strategic importance to the "common Defence" of major geographic expansion, exploration or technological development. The 1803 purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France, initiated by President Thomas Jefferson, constituted the first of these fortunate undertakings by a new nation. Jefferson, a scientist himself, dispatched the Corps of Discovery Expedition under the command of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore these new holdings. In addition to thwarting the ambitions of other global powers, this exploration began the assimilation of Western resources and opportunities into the future of the country.

President James Polk and Congress followed Jefferson’s lead with the 1845 annexation of Texas and the 1846-48 acquisitions of California and the New Mexico and Oregon Territories. Polk’s remarkable accomplishments in a single term effectively completed the geographic definition of what would become the 48 contiguous States of the United States of America. The final southern boundary in Arizona and New Mexico came soon after with the Gadsden Purchase in 1853-54 under President Franklin Pierce. The early exploration of these rich lands fell to the engineers and scientists of the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers. Attached to Army expeditions traveling through the American West and Southwest, explorers such as John C. Fremont and William H. Emory documented the natural resource and agricultural value of Polk’s decisions. All Americans hoping to improve their lives and those of their families now had more opportunities to do so through settlement and economic growth.

Then, in the midst of the challenge of preserving the Union, President Abraham Lincoln showed Americans that he also understood the strategic importance of national expansion and development. In 1862, Lincoln initiated the building of the Transcontinental Railroad and the accompanying transcontinental telegraph, adding geographic, economic and political strength to the Northern cause. As Lincoln originally intended, the Golden Spike that formally joined the Central and Union Pacific Railroads forever tied together the culture, economics, and agricultural and mineral resources of the country. Following Lincoln's assassination and before the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, President Andrew Johnson supported Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Seward, in the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. Seward's opportunistic foresight has long paid dividends both in natural resources and strategic defense.

As in the case of the Transcontinental Railroad, the necessities of national defense and the expansion of trade and commerce led President Theodore Roosevelt to take actions that led to the construction of the Panama Canal. Even though the Canal did not directly involve the continental United States, Roosevelt had recognized the strategic importance of moving naval units and commercial shipping quickly between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. As the demands of two World Wars demonstrated, this clairvoyance paid great dividends in preserving democracy throughout the globe. It also stimulated the development of many new technological capabilities, such as large earth-moving machines and electric motors that contributed to the growth of the American economy and the well-being of people throughout the world.

In the 1950s, the oceans again drew the attention of Presidents and the Congress. Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, with congressional acceptance of their recommendations, began and expanded the Nuclear Navy starting with the USS Nautilus. These initiatives recognized the potential of nuclear submarines and their missiles, hidden in the vastness of the oceans, to deter the aggressive ambitions of the Soviet Union.

Finally, also in the post-World War period, national security drove America’s most recent expansion, this time away from the global confines of Earth and into space. The six landings on the Moon in the 1960s and 70s grew out of the realization by both President Eisenhower and President John F. Kennedy that space would be a critical arena of Cold War competition between freedom and socialism.

A year and a half before President Kennedy would set the Nation on a course to the Moon, Eisenhower directed NASA to begin the development of what became the Saturn V Moon rocket. Without a jump-start on development of the Saturn V, my generation could not have met Kennedy’s goal of “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth” before the end of the decade of the 1960s. Such a delay would have emboldened the Soviet Union to continue to press forward with its own Moon landing program.

Critical threats coincided with the initiatives taken by American leaders through the centuries. No less critical national and international threats exist today. The current strategic interests of the United States require its political leadership to recognize the imperative of regaining the lead in deep space exploration if American global influence is to remain relevant here on Earth. Deep space exists as the continuing geographic frontier for Americans and, indeed for humankind.


Harrison H. Schmitt is a former United States Senator from New Mexico as well as the 12th man to set foot on the Moon as the Lunar Module Pilot and scientist-geologist on the 1972 Apollo 17 Mission. He currently is an aerospace and private enterprise consultant and a member of the New Committee of Correspondence.  Visit his website:

December 22, 2012

Get Your Historic "The Moon" Sign!

Here's a great (and free!) Christmas gift for the space enthusiast!

Download and print the Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration's historic reproduction of the signs hung all over NASA during the Apollo program to keep everyone on track!

It says "The Moon" in the fonts used in the era, and on the reverse is Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan's quote describing their use:

"This sign is a recreation of those hung, quoting Apollo astronaut Eugene Cernan, "on every door" at NASA during the Apollo program; "That was the destination, that was the goal."

Whether we go to the moon, Mars, asteroids and beyond, this sign will help inspire a new generation of leaders, astronauts and space enthusiasts!

The Coalition has presented these signs to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, many members and staff in Congress, as well as to a great many space advocates.

Where else can you give the moon to a friend?

The sign measures 8.5" X 11", making it easy to frame. Download the PDF here:

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver
Congressional Visit
WMAL/WRQX Radio Host Tom Grooms

December 7, 2012

40th Anniversary of Apollo 17

40 years ago on December 7, 1972, Americans blasted off towards the moon, and landed on the moon on December 11. This final moon mission broke records including the longest stay on the moon--over three days. Apollo 17's crew included geologist Harrison Schmitt, who was able to greatly increase our knowledge of the moon from his selection of rocks to return and his investigations while on the surface.

Now it's time to go back. Not just for a short visit, but go back "American Exceptionalism"-style in this decade, and live on the moon so we can learn how to live on Mars--then go to Mars!

Harrison Schmitt on the Moon
To remain the leader in space and high technology for another generation, we must not sit back and watch as China and others pass the US, perhaps claim the moon as theirs, and reap the benefits in jobs, investments, patents and inventions, high tech leadership; and national pride and international respect.

Gene Cernan Driving the Moon Rover
To succeed, we need real leadership to define the goals and timetables, and to make the case for the necessary funding.

America CAN return to the moon in this decade, and start to construct a lunar base to learn how to live on Mars. America CAN visit an asteroid in this decade to gain deep space experience. And American CAN go to Mars by or before 2030.

YOU can help support our space program by calling Congress at 202-224-3121, writing letters to the editor, calling talk shows, and spreading the word to your friends on social media. Let's make the 40th anniversary of Apollo 17 an inspiration for rebuilding our space program.

December 6, 2012

"Curiosity 2.0" -- A New Mars Rover for 2020 vs. Mars Sample Return

NASA has announced a new Mars exploration plan, calling for sending a Curiosity-derived rover to to Mars in 2020.
Original Photo Credit NASA
While the focus on Mars and committment for continued robotic exploration is valuable and commendable, what is important to look at is what is not on the table.
  • The Mars sample collecting rover which was planned for 2018; the Mars Astrobiology Explorer Cacher (Max-C), which was the first element of a long-planned Mars sample return (MSR) series of missions.
  • A complete, round-trip Mars sample return mission. One to three missions to not just collect soil, air and water samples, but to actually return them to Earth for analysis.
  • Other precursor missions in specific support for a human landing by about 2030. Non-MSR missions might include scouting water-rich landing sites and lava-tube caves suitable for habitat protection. Building a crewed lunar research base is also an essential precursor for a successful Mars landing.
A successful round-trip MSR is essential to provide knowledge about the possibility of life before we send humans to Mars; to reduce the risk of potential contamination of Earth upon their return. It is the one essential precursor mission before sending humans to the surface. A MSR would also provide samples for non-biological studies; delivering results not possible from dozens of rovers. Half a kilogram in Earth labs can be analyzed in so many ways impossible on Mars.
Mars Astrobiology Explorer- Cacher (MAX-C)
Credit NASA
By eliminating the sample collection function, NASA has ignored the long-standing advice of the authoratative planetary exploration report, the 'Decadal Survey,' which stated "NASA's highest priority large mission should be the Mars Astrobiology Explorer Cacher (Max-C), a mission to Mars that could help determine whether the planet ever supported life..." 

A MSR is the single essential precursor for ever landing humans on Mars, however by spending funds on everything but MSR, we risk perpetually keeping human landings far in the future. This next-generation rover may therefore push a MSR to the 2030's, and by extention a human landing to the 2040's.

If humans are to set foot on Mars, at some point we must stop dispersing scarce funds on everything but MSR.

Beyond the scientific aspects, the question must be asked if the public, which eagerly watched Curiosity's landing, will be as interested in an apparent, though more advanced, repeat of Curiosity.

The Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration believes a better investment of scarce resources would be to outfit this rover to carry out the Max-C's sample collection mission, and to make as the top NASA priority the return mission to bring home the cached samples. To do otherwise is a signal that NASA's goal of landing Americans on Mars in the 2030's will not happen.

October 30, 2012

Weather Satellites Revolutionized Weather Forecasting & Save Lives

Credit NASA
The worlds first weather satellite was invented by NOAA and NASA in America and launched on April 1, 1960, ushering in the modern era of weather prediction.

TIROS-1 showed a typhoon near Australia, cloud patterns over the US, and allowed for the first time meteorologists to view storms from space and track their motion.  

Previously, storms over the ocean might go entirely unnoticed except for chance reports by ships, and powerful storms could come as a total surprise when they reached land, resulting in far higher deaths and injuries than today.

In spite of the terrible damage from Hurricane Sandy, we should be thankful for the space program which developed life-saving weather satellites, and allowed early warning of Sandy's path and destructive force. There would have been far greater loss of life in previous decades. As an example, thousands died in the 1900 Galveston Hurricane as evacuation in advance was not possible as it would be today.

Hurricane Sandy from ISS, in the Bahamas
 off east coast of Florida. Credit: NASA TV
It may be difficult for those who grew up with satellite-based forecasting to imagine life with poor or no forecasting. Weather forecasters today get picked on for appearing to not get it right at times, but when we look at their record, they are right far more than not, and every decade offers considerably greater accuracy and yet earlier warnings.

Today's weather satellites provide far greater resolution and data than the first, and can monitor tsunamis and even receive broadcasts from emergency beacons. Astronauts on the International Space Station frequently photograph storms and other phenomena such as aurora.

Completing the picture are weather apps for smart phones as well as emergency alert apps. Anyone care to forecast what's next on the horizon?

More weather satellite history at:

October 15, 2012

The Space X Launch to ISS

Space X achieved yet another success as it launched its first official Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station on October 7. During the launch, one engine failed, which resulted in a secondary payload failing to achieve orbit, however about 1,000 pounds of cargo, including some ice cream for the crew, were delivered successfully.

The Director of the Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration attended the launch; and participated in press conferences, discussions with NASA and Space X officials, and toured the launch pad.

Among issues discussed with Space X: They are not planning to park a Dragon on ISS for 200+ days to validate use as a human spacecraft or lifeboat, but may independently place one independently on orbit for such purposes. The target for the first human test mission for Dragon is 2015, and remaining work includes the launch escape system and life support. Falcon Heavy is slated for a test launch next year at Vandenberg.

The Dragon capsule, filled with equipment and experiments, is scheduled to return on October 28, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. The ability to return equipment and experiments has not been possible since the shuttles were retired, and scientists are eager to analyze many experiments once Dragon is back on earth.

Watch these short and unique videos:

Raising Falcon for Launch

Countdown & Launch 

Exclusive Briefing with
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

Exclusive Briefing with
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver

Photo Gallery. See more at 

Workers Monitoring Raising
of Falcon Rocket

A Dramatic View of the Falcon 9 Rocket Ready for Launch

Coalition Director Art Harman followed up on previous discussions on surviving Soyuz launch crises with ISS Program Manager Mike Suffredini, and discussed Dragon human rating issues with Space X President Gwynne Shotwell

Xenon lights paint the sky and spotlight
Falcon on the Pad just minutes before launch
Presenting NASA Administrator Charles Bolden with the Coalition's historic recreation of the signs hung all over NASA during the Apollo program.  Download and print yours too--see menu on this page!
Presenting NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver with the Coalition's historic recreation of the signs hung all over NASA during the Apollo program. Download and print yours too--see menu on this page!
All photos and videos credit Art Harman and copyright © 2012

September 21, 2012

Support the New Bill to Reform NASA

US Capitol Press Conference Announcing
Introduction of NASA Reform Bill
Credit: Art Harman
The Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration endorses the new "Space Leadership Preservation Act," H.R. 6491, which will reform NASA in important ways.

Many of the issues this Congressional bill addresses have been discussed amongst space advocates for years; now it's all put together into one bill which can become law with our support.

Key points include a 10-year Administrator term, multi-year budgeting for long-term projects; and a board of directors to propose budgets and recommend Administrator candidates.

Bill Summary:
Bill text:
Graphic of $20 billion in cancelled projects over 20 years--many of which could have been completed with better management practices:

The Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration endorses this bill as a high priority. The most important ways YOU can support this now are to
  1. Call your Representative and ask they cosponsor HR 6491, the Space Leadership Preservation Act. 202-224-3121 (A Senate version should be introduced soon)
  2. Endorse the bill and broadly promote it.
  3. Urge space advocacy and government reform organizations to officially endorse the bill or at least to to inform their members of the bill.

The Space Leadership Preservation Act has been endorsed by Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon; and was introduced by Frank Wolf (VA-10), John Culberson (TX-07), Bill Posey (FL-15), Pete Olson (TX-22), James Sensenbrenner (WI-05), and Lamar Smith (TX-21). A companion bill will be introduced soon in the Senate.

Together we can help reform NASA to unleash its creative energies more free of politics and budgetary whirlwinds. Contact the Coalition or any of the cosponsoring Representatives for more information.

The Space Leadership Preservation Act, H.R.6491, now has 16 cosponsors:
Rep Burgess, Michael C. [TX-26], Rep Calvert, Ken [CA-44], Rep Carter, John R. [TX-31], Rep Cuellar, Henry [TX-28], Rep Farenthold, Blake [TX-27], Rep Green, Gene [TX-29], Rep Mack, Connie [FL-14], Rep McCaul, Michael T. [TX-10], Rep Olson, Pete [TX-22], Rep Posey, Bill [FL-15], Rep Sensenbrenner, F. James, Jr. [WI-5], Rep Smith, Lamar [TX-21], Rep Thornberry, Mac [TX-13], Rep West, Allen B. [FL-22], Rep Wittman, Robert J. [VA-1], Rep Wolf, Frank R. [VA-10]

September 19, 2012

Shuttle Endeavour Flies to LA, NASA Review

Endeavour Departing KSC. Credit NASA/Kim Shiflett
Today, our beloved space shuttle Endeavour has departed from the Kennedy Space Center; travelling to Houston and to her final home inspiring visitors at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

As with the final voyages of Discovery to Washington, DC, and Enterprise to New York, millions looked up to see her pass overhead in Florida, Houston and points along the way. The second day will take her to Edwards Air Force Base in California; and then treating California residents from Sacramento to San Francisco and Los Angeles to awesome flyovers.
On this occasion it is valuable to take quick stock of NASA and our space program. The shuttles must not be the end of an era, but the prelude to an exciting new era of Americans going to the moon, asteroids and Mars.

A decade of budget cuts, a lack of leadership, and possible additional massive budget cuts all offer serious threats to maintaining American leadership in space.

Endeavour Over Houston. Credit NASA
America buys seats on Russian rockets to go to the space station.

The International Space Station is entering its second decade in orbit--and recently helped solve problems of bone loss in space; vital for a Mars mission.

Private companies are indeed building exciting new rocket systems to take astronauts to orbit, but it will be several years until they are ready.

We successfully landed Curiosity on Mars, and it will spend 2 years or more making incredible discoveries.

We have space probes visiting asteroids and outer planets. We have sent sophisticated orbiters and probes to or past every planet but Pluto, and have a probe en route there now!

We are building our moon/Mars rocket--but NASA has not defined missions for it, such as "we will go to this asteroid by 2019; we will go to the moon by 2020; and to Mars before 2030." Without goals and timetables, we will go nowhere--and Congress won't fund vague plans.

Budget cuts endanger every major program. 'Sequestration' will chop another 8.2% out of NASA's budget. NASA spending has not been as lot a percentage of the budget since 1959--0.4%. This must be increased to 1% to maintain US leadership in space and high tech.

Current and future missions are in increasing danger from budget cuts. It's even possible some existing probes might even be shut down and abandoned due to budget cuts--years before their lifespan would be over.

China and Russia are gearing up to fill the vacuum, with plans for lunar bases, lunar mining, and eventually trips to Mars and beyond. China's militaristic actions in the South China Sea are not reassuring if we are to believe they will not claim the moon or attack our satellites. Civilian presence in space can help discourage military claims.

NASA can help bring America a bright exciting future, and bring us incredible benefits of high tech leadership, jobs, investments, inventions and national pride/international respect IF we once again make space a national priority. Readers are urged to contact their representatives and candidates to spare NASA from budget cuts, and to increase funding to 1% of the budget.

Let's honor the legacy of the shuttles by rebuilding the space program!

September 10, 2012

50th Anniversary JFK's Famous Rice Univ. Space Speech

September 12 is the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's famous speech at Rice University, where he called for going to the moon "in this decade." 

Let's honor the historic legacies of JFK and Neil Armstrong by calling for a bold new space program which will return us to the moon (to learn how to live on Mars) and visit an asteroid both "in this decade," and go to Mars in the 2020's.  Increasing space funding to just one percent of the Federal budget can make the difference between continually cutting vital projects, and rebuilding our high tech leadership; between never going back to the moon and on to Mars, and doing so in years, not decades. 

Here is JFK's historic speech in full:

President Pitzer, Mr. Vice President, Governor, Congressman Thomas, Senator Wiley, and Congressman Miller, Mr. Webb, Mr. Bell, scientists, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen:

I appreciate your president having made me an honorary visiting professor, and I will assure you that my first lecture will be very brief.

I am delighted to be here, and I'm particularly delighted to be here on this occasion.

We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a State noted for strength, and we stand in need of all three, for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.

Despite the striking fact that most of the scientists that the world has ever known are alive and working today, despite the fact that this Nation¹s own scientific manpower is doubling every 12 years in a rate of growth more than three times that of our population as a whole, despite that, the vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered and the unfinished still far outstrip our collective comprehension.

No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man¹s recorded history in a time span of but a half-century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them. Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power.

Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power, and now if America's new spacecraft succeeds in reaching Venus, we will have literally reached the stars before midnight tonight.

This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.

So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this State of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward--and so will space.

William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.

If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation.

We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say the we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.
In the last 24 hours we have seen facilities now being created for the greatest and most complex exploration in man's history.

We have felt the ground shake and the air shattered by the testing of a Saturn C-1 booster rocket, many times as powerful as the Atlas which launched John Glenn, generating power equivalent to 10,000 automobiles with their accelerators on the floor. We have seen the site where five F-1 rocket engines, each one as powerful as all eight engines of the Saturn combined, will be clustered together to make the advanced Saturn missile, assembled in a new building to be built at Cape Canaveral as tall as a 48 story structure, as wide as a city block, and as long as two lengths of this field.

Within these last 19 months at least 45 satellites have circled the earth. Some 40 of them were "made in the United States of America" and they were far more sophisticated and supplied far more knowledge to the people of the world than those of the Soviet Union.

The Mariner spacecraft now on its way to Venus is the most intricate instrument in the history of space science. The accuracy of that shot is comparable to firing a missile from Cape Canaveral and dropping it in this stadium between the the 40-yard lines.

Transit satellites are helping our ships at sea to steer a safer course. Tiros satellites have given us unprecedented warnings of hurricanes and storms, and will do the same for forest fires and icebergs.
We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not admit them. And they may be less public.
To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade, we shall make up and move ahead.

The growth of our science and education will be enriched by new knowledge of our universe and environment, by new techniques of learning and mapping and observation, by new tools and computers for industry, medicine, the home as well as the school. Technical institutions, such as Rice, will reap the harvest of these gains.

And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this State, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space.

Houston, your City of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this Center in this City.

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year¹s space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at $5 billion 400 million a year--a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United Stated, for we have given this program a high national priority--even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us.

But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun--almost as hot as it is here today--and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out--then we must be bold.

I'm the one who is doing all the work, so we just want you to stay cool for a minute. [laughter]

However, I think we're going to do it, and I think that we must pay what needs to be paid. I don't think we ought to waste any money, but I think we ought to do the job. And this will be done in the decade of the sixties. It may be done while some of you are still here at school at this college and university. It will be done during the term of office of some of the people who sit here on this platform. But it will be done. And it will be done before the end of this decade.

I am delighted that this university is playing a part in putting a man on the moon as part of a great national effort of the United States of America.

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, "Because it is there."

Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail, we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

Thank you.

Let's work together to help truly honor the legacies of President Kennedy and also Neil Armstrong. Support "one cent for space" by contacting your members of Congress and candidates, writing letters to the editor, calling talk shows, and spreading the word on social media and the web. Let's again reach high for new discoveries!

September 1, 2012

"Wink at the Moon"

Facebook Profile Picture
The Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration invites you to download and use these tribute photos of Neil Armstrong. Share with your friends! (Click photos to get full-size version then save to your computer) Armstrong's family: "For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink." That was the inspiration for this artwork!
Computer Desktop Photo
Facebook Profile B&W
Facebook Cover Photo B&W

Facebook Cover Photo

August 29, 2012

Honor Neil Armstrong's Legacy with 1 Cent for Space!

Neil Armstrong called in Congressional testimony for restoring real missions for NASA.

We can't just silently watch as NASA gets cut and future missions like ExoMars cancelled.

We will not find space friendly to free enterprise and American presence if China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and other dictatorships write the rules in the UN. 

Private space industry has few friends in the world outside of a few allies, and we will not want to see our initiatives blocked, taxed, regulated to death or even entirely banned by the majority of non and partially free nations. 

We must use Armstrong's legacy as a rallying point to launch a bold new space program. Neil deGrasse Tyson has the right message: call for 1 cent for space. Then we will see new footprints on the moon and asteroids in THIS decade, and footprints in the red dust of Mars in the 2020's!

To do otherwise is to surrender our future and no way to honor Neil Armstrong's legacy. To abandon our nation's leadership in space and let China become the space superpower for the 21st century. To watch as China and Russia reap the rewards in jobs, inventions, investments, and national pride/international respect.

Read "How China May be the Next to Land on the Moon" for a preview of China's future in space:

Let's demand that the next administration and Congress relaunch our space program to take us back to the moon where we can learn how to live on other worlds, to a few asteroid to gain experience in deep space travel, and then on to Mars! 

Not somewhere vaguely in the far future, but to the moon and an asteroid by the end of this decade, and landing, not just orbiting Mars in the 2020's! 

This IS possible, both technologically, and with Tyson's "one cent for space" economically. We need SLS as the Apollo-size rocket to get us to the moon, Mars and beyond, Orion and landers. Scrap SLS/Orion and we add at least a decade and billions more just to return to where we are now. We'll need habitats and a Mars soil return mission. Experience living on the moon will assure living on Mars is safe. But that's just hardware--most of all we need you!
  • Call Congress.
  • Talk to candidates and members of Congress at campaign events this fall.
  • Write letters to the editor.
  • Call talk shows.
  • Blog it!
  • Share the info on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
  • Urge space advocates to unite in support of 1 Cent for Space. 
One cent for space--let's make that be Nail Armstrong's legacy that launches America back to a bold future leading in human space exploration! It'll take everyone pushing together as one unified voice to make this happen, so let's roll!

One Giant of a Man

There will be a great many giant leaps in the future, and many giants of men and women taking small steps which echo loudly down through the ages. But no matter how challenging and thrilling, none will ever be quite as dramatic as the very first step off our home world. 

That honor for all time will belong to Neil Armstrong.

From the Armstrong family's statement: "For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."

August 6, 2012

Curiosity Lands on Mars!

Curiosity's Shadow at Martian Sunset
Meet America's New Mars Rover!
Yes, that IS a laser blasting rocks!
At 1:31 AM August 6, 2012, Mars Science Laboratory "Curiosity" landed on Mars. This was an incredible nine-month voyage, and the landing required a great many events to happen perfectly with split-second timing. Every American can be proud of our wonderful accomplishment!  Now the real excitement will begin, as Curiosity will make many new discoveries over the coming months and years; perhaps discover signs of current or past life; and help pave the way for American astronauts to take the first steps on Mars.

You can watch replays of landing coverage and developing news on NASA TV; on cable or online or on cable TV:

Watch "7 Minutes of Terror" showing how the landing on Mars was accomplished:

Watch Curiosity's descent:

Read the Curiosity landing press kit:

Follow Curiosity at
Curiosity Photographed from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Let's now resolve to send astronauts to the moon and asteroids in this decade, and to Mars in the 2020's. We will only get there if our leaders set specific goals, missions and timetables; just as President Kennedy challenged our nation to go to the moon "in this decade." You can help by contacting Congress and candidates in support.

Absence of the specific goals, missions and timetables will doom our future in space to budget cuts and cancelled dreams; and we will only watch as other nations fill the vacuum instead and reap the incredible benefits of jobs, awesome new inventions, investments, national pride and international respect. Let's go!

First Images on Mars
Mission Control Staff Cheering After Landing Confirmed

July 26, 2012

Legislative Alert: Call Congress to Block Space Tech Transfer to China

Please make these important calls to Congress today to stop a dangerous transfer of American space technology to China.
  • Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry (D-MA) 202-224-2742.
  • Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18) 202-225-3931
  • Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon (CA-25) 202-225-1956
Ask them to take action to block the Loral satellite deal with China before the August recess. Then please call your Representative and Senators at 202-224-3121, and ask them to support blocking this deal.

Here's the deal. The Obama administration issued a waiver of protective laws to allow Space Systems/Loral to sell key satellite technology to a company partially owned by a Chinese state-run investment company.  Loral was earlier fined for selling key missile technology to China in the 1990's which was used to improve their unreliable ballistic missiles. This technology can be used for military purposes.

Read the details by veteran China expert Bill Gertz:

America is the undisputed leader in space technology. But our lead is being eroded by both the theft and outright purchase of our most advanced technologies. Such technology can be used equally by China's military as it can for competing against the US in commercial markets.

Tech transfers and thefts helped the Soviets build their shockingly similar "Buran" space shuttle. This isn't a new idea; Stalin had a fleet of B-29 bomber clones built from one captured plane, and the Soviets became infamous for stealing and 'reverse engineering' our military technology throughout the Cold War. China's moon rocket, as revealed in a recent posting here, appears to draw upon designs for our Space Launch System (SLS). Loral's technology was previously used to improve unreliable Chinese ballistic missiles.

We must enforce, not waive, the laws to protect our technology, and thus our jobs, investments and patents. America cannot afford to give our competitors and adversaries a commercial and military advantage.

Congress has 28 days to block this dangerous sale of American space technology to China. Because Congress will adjourn on August 3, it is critical to call now, and to ask your friends and associates to call as well.

If we want America to have a bright future in space, and to not see China use our technology to underbid and destroy our growing commercial space industry, we must block this deal and all like it in the future.

Please help stop this dangerous sale of our high tech to China. Call Congress. Share this alert far and wide. Thank you.

July 20, 2012

Apollo 11 Moon Landing Anniversary

Ask anyone alive in 1969, and they'll all tell you exactly where they were when Neil Armstrong took that historic step onto the moon, on this very date 43 years ago!

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson today commented this was "the only positive event in the last 50 years for which everyone remembers where they were when it happened." Indeed!

We need more such positive accomplishments; to return to the moon, go to asteroids and take that next breathtaking step onto the rust-red soil of Mars! Not one day in the far future, but to go to the moon and an asteroid as JFK said "in this decade" and go on to Mars in the mid 2020's.

Our space program is indeed "American Exceptionalism" defined!

It all started at the US Capitol 51 years ago when President Kennedy challenged our nation to go to the moon; "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

The nation rallied in support, and just eight years later made history for all time as Apollo 11 blasted off with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, travelled a quarter of a million miles, and the lander descended to the surface of the moon.

Neil Armstrong announced the landing with these words, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." Few understood how close to disaster the astronauts were, for Armstrong had to take manual control and use up almost all the fuel to avoid boulders.

That's why we sent the "Right Stuff" to the moon!

Watch this remarkable video of Neil Armstrong narrating the final minutes of the landing in 2011 in the House of Representatives. Your author attended that hearing and witnessed this in person:

Then Armstrong descended the ladder as the world held its breath. Everyone who watched, including your author from his house in Washington, DC intently watched as Armstrong spoke, "I'm going to step off the LEM now."

His words echoed around the world as he took that step which will remain one of humanity's greatest achievements: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

(historical note: later audio analysis proves Armstrong really did say the "a.")

What were YOU doing on that date; your thoughts, emotions and memories? For those too young, what were your thoughts when you first learned of or saw videos of the landing? Please share your comments on this page!

July 19, 2012

A First Look At China's Moon/Mars Rocket

Take an early look at China's moon/mars rocket:

It looks similar to our SLS--either through general design necessity or by copying our technology, and will be of similar payload and other specs. The payload to low earth orbit is 130-133 metric tons, as indeed is necessary for manned lunar missions.

They are going to the moon and beyond--are we?
The two options for China’s “Super Saturn V” rocket are the favored “Option A” oxygen/kerosene version at left and less favored oxygen/hydrogen “Option B” with solid rocket boosters on the right.
Image Credit: CALT, via 

July 9, 2012

First Anniversary of Final Space Shuttle Launch


A year ago the final space shuttle mission roared off the launch pad and into orbit and the history books.
Credit: Art Harman

In the year since Atlantis took that historic flight, has the administration set specific goals and timetables for NASA to allow it to focus like a laser beam on launching Americans to the moon, Mars and asteroids? Or by neglect is it still an agency adrift without specific long range plans for human exploration beyond earth orbit?

Sadly, a year after the last shuttle mission and more than two years after Constellation was cancelled, the essential goals and timetables have still not been set. During his short time in office, President Kennedy accomplished everything needed to send America to the moon.

The greatest tragedy in cancelling Constellation was not the billions of dollars lost and the years of delay added in getting the very similar Space Launch System (SLS) ready for construction. The greatest tragedy instead was the loss of NASA's specific manned deep space exploration goals, and the timetables to get there, resulting in confusion, poor morale, and an inability to properly plan and develop missions.

Simply to allow NASA to identify one specific asteroid and state "in 20XX we will go to this asteroid" would make all the difference for mission planning, public enthusiasm and Congressional budgetary approval.

America's national space strategy up to the point the White House cancelled it would have had the US return to the moon by 2019, begin construction of a lunar research base so we could learn how to live on Mars, and then go to Mars.

These specific plans were replaced by vague and undefined plans to go to an un-specified asteroid about 2025, and perhaps in the mid 2030's to either orbit Mars and return or to land. Without the intermediate learning step of a research base on the moon, a Mars mission would be far more hazardous.

It is almost impossible to accomplish such technically demanding and expensive tasks without a detailed and specific roadmap.

Credit NASA
Had President Kennedy tasked Apollo with a similarly vague plan to "go to the moon sometime in the far future," we never would have gotten there. Perhaps funding could have been found for such a vague program, but the result would have been perpetual delays, cost over-runs and continual redesigns--exactly what plagues NASA today!

The contrasts with the precisely planned and executed Apollo program and today's rudderless NASA could not be more glaring.

The solution is to follow the successful example of Apollo and set specific timetables and goals--best articulated by President Kennedy in his 1961 address to Congress:

"I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment."

The solution indeed is to follow JFK's wise advice and "specif(y) long-range goals on an urgent time schedule."

The stakes are higher than many may realize. America does not live in a vacuum in this world; and other nations will not patiently wait until we get our act in gear. They will happily seize for the next generation the lead we relinquish in high technology; and they will go to the moon, Mars and beyond--making it seem pointless to follow in their footsteps. It will be they, not us who reap the incredibly valuable benefits in patents and innovations, jobs, investments, and national pride and international respect.

China recently announced their plans to land on the moon by 2025, and last month completed a successful mission docking with their prototype space station. While the US is indeed building our moon/asteroid/Mars rocket--the SLS; specific plans, timetables and budgets for specific missions must be developed, or the space program which launched America to worldwide leadership in high tech could become an easy prey to budget cutters, leaving the US second-rate in an increasingly competitive world.

This is a call, on the occasion of the anniversary of the final shuttle launch, for the current or next administration to develop a serious and well-funded national space strategy which will see America continue to lead the world in technology, discovery and prosperity.

July 2, 2012

"Enhancing China's Comprehensive Power"

China's Shenzhou-9 manned space mission ended successfully, with important tests of both automatic and manual dockings, as well as testing of their Tiangong-1 mini-space station module. This is their most complicated space mission so far, and will help advance their plans for their next space stations, Tiangong 2 and 3.

Want a peek at how the Chinese view the purpose of this mission and their broader space program?

Here's Premier Wen Jiabao: "It has profound significance in enhancing China's comprehensive power and inspiring the national spirit."

Americans would be wise to understand the same benefits would accrue to the US with a bold new space program.

June 27, 2012

China is Going to the Moon. Will We?

The successful Chinese manned mission to their Tiangong-1 docking target/mini space station shows their space program is well funded and well planned. They are not standing still or waiting for us to get our act together.

This is a brief review of China's plans for the future, and the lessons the US must learn, lest we are left behind as they, not we, conquer and explore deep space.

Chinese Long Range Timeline:
Late 2012 Second manned mission to Tiangong-1
2013 Launch of Tiangong-2, a larger module than -1, which will be used for additional manned missions.
2015 Launch of Tiangong-3. This will be the first module of their Mir-sized space station.
2017 Chang'e-5 lunar soil return mission.
2020 Completion of their Mir-sized space station--the earliest date ISS may be retired and destroyed. Unless Bigelow is successful with his inflatable space stations, China's might become the only major space station in the next decade.
2025 Manned landing on the moon, then establishment of a permanent moon base. Newt Gingrich was mocked in the media for proposing what the Chinese are now working towards.
Future: Discussions of not just Mars, but Saturn! Nobody in the US is even talking about manned missions to Saturn's orbit and moons; what's wrong with us?

China has released some information about their heavy-lift moon rocket, now under development. It will be a Saturn V/SLS class rocket, in the range of 100-130 metric tons. Not surprisingly, this size has been the consistent recommendation for moon and deep space missions from Wernher von Braun's plans up to SLS. Indeed, Saturn V only carried three astronauts, a capsule and a lander to the moon. Adjectives such as "monster" are often given to SLS by the media, yet this size is what is needed for such missions without more risky and complex orbital assembly of smaller components on multiple launches.

China's Moon Rocket:

The Political and Strategic Aspects of China's Space Program

Shenzhou 7 Spacewalk  Credit: CCTV/Xinhua/AP
Beyond the technical aspects, it is vital that US decision makers and candidates understand the political and strategic aspects of China's accelerating space program.

The lesson for the US is that if we don't complete and create real missions for SLS--our moon/Mars rocket; China may become the only nation capable of building a moon base, going to asteroids, and venturing to Mars. It would be China, not the US, which would reap the benefits of manned space exploration.

It is important to understand that China's space program is not civilian, but is run by their military. A serious mistake is to assume China's government is peaceful, democratic and benevolent. Therefore their purposes and ambitions may not be limited to merely peaceful scientific pursuit. Their space stations may have dual military/civilian purposes, and their intentions in space may reach beyond the peaceful.

Can China be trusted to not seize the high frontier? What could a Chinese flag on the moon mean? These are not merely academic or alarmist questions, for the Chinese flags planted on the South China Sea bed announced they are trying to seize the sea; and their belligerent actions and statements indicate they could go to war to conquer the sea.

Robert Bigelow, of Bigelow Aerospace anticipates China will in fact attempt to claim ownership of the moon in the 2020's: "Since China is already committed to going to the moon thereby risking national honor, life and capital in trying to succeed in these efforts, why not take the all important syllogistic next step, ownership, ownership, ownership.   I believe they will make ownership claims wherever they land and are able to move about.  And this process shall continue for years until they have surveyed, marked and claimed the entire body." and

Actions speak greater than words; and at best, China is not setting an example on earth by which we could trust that their actions in space would be any different.

Map of China's claimed territory: 
China plants flag on South China Sea bed

Chinese sink Philippine fishing boat in Philippine waters:
China plants flag on rock in Philippine territorial waters:

Could their manned space program have a goal to facilitate Chinese military control of orbital space, particularly once ISS is destroyed in 2020 or 2028? Would a Chinese flag on the moon mean what ours did, "we came in peace for all mankind," or would it mean what it does on the South China Sea bed?  Even if there is no overt militaristic threat, the Chinese are experts in the many subtle forms of hegemony, and as their military and economic might grows, mere hints or comments can be perceived as threats.

The answer for the US is to simply go forward with our space program and go to the moon, asteroids and Mars; and thereby not award by default deep space to possible Chinese claims.

Cooperation is theft. China's long history of technological and intellectual property theft, coupled with their fresh appeal for cooperation with the West on space should be of serious concern. Any space cooperation with the US or Europe could lead to them gaining and exploiting our most advanced technology, utilizing it for military purposes, and cutting us out of any deals before the payoff. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) succeeded in passing language which currently blocks such cooperation, and it must be continued.

The intangible but real and powerful benefits from a bold space program: national pride and international respect. America needs positive, awe-inspiring accomplishments for this generation. Americans felt good about our nation when we landed on the moon; it helped unite us and inspire us to greater heights--we need something like that again. International respect and national pride are never built by statements and promises, but by big, bold exciting actions.

The world's image of China--beyond their tyrannical and militaristic actions--generally includes their economic progress and their infrastructure; and now their space program will gain international attention and respect. The Chinese Bay Bridge in San Francisco is a daily reminder to area residents of who has the power today. They understand this point well.

No doubt when American presidents negotiated with other nations in the Apollo era, our accomplishments in space and other fields induced enough awe that we probably won concessions we wouldn't have otherwise. America will find we have greater international respect when we again do bold and exciting things.

China is renewing its call to cooperate on aerospace projects, which would become largely a one-way transfer:
GE shares jet technology with China:
"But doing business in China often requires Western multinationals like G.E. to share technology and trade secrets that might eventually enable Chinese companies to beat them at their own game. The other risk is that Western technologies could help China play catch-up in military aviation — a concern underscored last week when the Chinese military demonstrated a prototype of its version of the Pentagon’s stealth fighter. The first customer for the G.E. joint venture will be the Chinese company building a new airliner, the C919, that is meant to be China’s first entry in competition with Boeing and Airbus." (The C919 will compete with the 737 and A320)
"China’s capabilities pose a security threat to the US by enhancing Chinese military systems while threatening to disrupt or disable US space systems in a conflict. "China’s space ambitions are in part peaceful in nature. Yet technologies can also be used with ill-intent."

Conclusion: China's rise in space is an economic and strategic challenge to the US if we let them fill a vacuum from our inaction. If we continue cutting our space program and delay continually returning to the moon, visiting an asteroid, and taking that historic first step on Mars; then we award them a competitive advantage which could indeed help make the 21st century be a "Chinese century." The investments, jobs, innovations and national pride will all go to China to our disadvantage.  

Let's make sure that the 21st century is an "American century."