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Archive for the ‘exploration’ Category

updated: April 1st, 2016

Now that the Space Shuttle Program has concluded; ‘safeing‘ of the three remaining operational craft, Endeavour, Discovery, and Atlantis, (Columbia and Challenger suffered loss of vehicle and crew) (shuttle Enterprise, never flew into space) dismantling of the orbiters OMS pods, and storage of the vehicles occupies what’s left of the NASA shuttle workforce, and astronaut corps.

Also, in this photo: Mobile Launcher Platform, Crawler-transporter can be see. (upper left)

Questions.

Major questions remain; e.g., what is to become of the manned space program, Constellation, and the Ares I rocket?  Decommissioning and demolition of Launch Complex 39B, is already underway.

NASA is going ahead with plans to bring down the fixed and rotating service structures at pad 39B, even though the Ares I rocket and the entire Constellation program are being axed.

see also:  Kennedy Space Center – Google Maps

Uncertainty and criticism.

A combination of engineering obstacles and a trillion dollar budget short-fall, conspired to doom NASA’s Constellation program, including the Ares V, all effectively canceled, in October 2010, by the passage of the 2010 NASA authorization bill.

“It’s a very dynamic time, and a lot of folks aren’t real comfortable with all the uncertainties… None of us are.” –Peggy Whitson, Chief Astronaut, Johnson Space Center

Obama’s 2011 budget request eliminated the Constellation’s rocket, crew capsule, and the Ares I man-rated and Ares V heavy-lift vehicles. In their place it; funnels billions of dollars to ‘new spaceflight technologies‘, and outsources to commercial firms, the task of ferrying astronauts to low-Earth orbit.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) says that under Obama’s strategy “America’s decades-long dominance of space will finally come to an end.”

The Lab, wonders about what NASA has already spent developing these new systems.

  • $9 billion into the development of a new rocket, Ares I, and a new spacecraft, the Orion.
  • Terminating the program and closing out contracts will cost $2.5 billion more.

Will the R&D transfer to private sector contractors or be shelved?

Elon Musk, an American engineer, and entrepreneur, is best known for co-founding PayPal, and SpaceX, and is the original investor in Tesla Motors.

“The problem with Constellation was that success was not one of the possible outcomes…”

Of course, he would say that. Musk, who funded the first viable production electric car–the Tesla Roadster–is designing a private successor to the Space Shuttle, designated the F9/Dragon.

Absent the shuttle, and budgetary realities aside, what if anything, has really changed? NASA will still oversee the astronaut corps, all-be-it with significantly reduced numbers of active duty astronauts. The space agency will still be in charge of outsourcing; something they’re all ready quite familiar with. True, the names of the spacecraft have certainly changed, but except for a slip in the time-line, the mission goals remain the same, i.e., regular trips to LEO, the ISS, developing new craft and technology, a manned mission to an asteroid, and then–on to Mars.

What have we learned?

Anxious astronauts and Washington politicos not withstanding; The Lab concludes; the US will remain a space-faring nation, but not before some much needed house keeping, and prioritizing.

Keep watching the skies!

[developing story… stay tuned]

see also: Last Existing Shuttle-Centaur Rocket Stage Moving to Cleveland for Display, NASA Announces New Homes for Space Shuttle Orbiters After Retirement2 NASA Space Shuttles Meet Nose-to-NoseLaunch pad demolition paves way for uncertain transitionAstronaut Corps Shrink as Shuttles Stop

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The ‘Lab’ was somewhat disappointed by early NASA’s Dawn spacecraft remote viewing image of protoplanet Vesta; viewed from a distance of 26,000 miles (41,000 kilometers); away from the 530 kilometers (330 mi) wide asteroid.

A large file was discovered on the Wikipedia entry for Vesta, but it lacked that snappiness. Into Photoshop it went and out came this ‘enhanced image. ‘

For your comparison: the original, not enhanced image.

Image of Vesta taken by the Dawn spacecraft from orbit on July 17, 2011.

After processing by Frankensteam’s Lab.

click to enlarge

computer enhanced image--click to enlarge

In the words of Richard C. Hoagland, of Enterprise Mission fame:

  • The amazing visions of  “an artificial Vesta”
  • game changer
  • geometric shapes that indicate ruins
  • station built by a Type 2 civilization

see also:   NASA — All Eyes On Vesta, 4 Vesta, Another Fuzzy Dawn Image

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These days, everybody and their dog is getting into the space race. Something is afoot. Great Britain, Mexico, China and India are all funneling large sums of capital, into their respective emerging space agencies.

With regard to one of NASA’s newest Astronauts José Moreno Hernández; oddly enough, the greatest criticism has come from the ranks of the ethnic Hispanics–lo Mexicanos de Mexico–if you will, instead of the ‘Norte Americanos or Chicanos.’

…an American engineer of Mexican descent and a NASA astronaut. He is currently assigned to the crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-128.

Mission Specialist Hernandez, earned his astronaut wings, in August of 2009.  STS-128 (ISS assembly flight 17A) mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Mr Hernandez is the US-born son of Mexican migrant farm workers. …Hernandez wanted to fly in space ever since he heard that the first Hispanic-American had been chosen to travel into space.

The first Mexican in space was Rodolfo Neri Vela. There seems to be some rivalry between the two astronauts–not on a personal level–so for as I know, but between the Mexicans and North American Hispanics. The Mexicans don’t really claim Hernandez as one of their own, favoring Neri Vela, instead. A Mexican National, Neri Vela, flew on the US Space Shuttle (STS-61-B) in 1985, and served as Hernandez’s inspiration to become an astronaut.

Incidentally, STS-128 also marked the first time two Hispanic Americans flew on the same Space Shuttle crew. John “Danny” Olivas of El Paso, Texas, made his second trip up into space, on STS-128, along with Hernández.

Always read the comments, please.

One commenter referred to him as: “…the second latino-american astronaut.” Another commenter, again referring to Hernandez as: ” no un chicano que habla espanol con acento gringo.” Translation. …not [really] a Chicano, but [a] Spanish speaker with a North American accent.

Either way, I think you’ll agree with Dr. F., when I say; the story of NASA engineer / astronaut José Moreno Hernández, is quiet an inspiration, regardless of which side of the river you grew up on.

see also:  Mexico Enters The Space RaceJose M. Hernandez – NASA’s Mexican Astronaut, John D. Olivas, Rodolfo Neri Vela

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