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31 December 2007

+ 0 - 1 | § Sigh

saturn v at davidson centerOnce a year or so, someone in the national media notices Huntsville, and decides to write a by-the-numbers piece about the (sigh) fascinating dichotomy of the city -- it's in Alabama, but they build space vehicles. Some of the pieces are actually fairly well done, some not so much. Case in point: a piece on the New York Times' Web site today (don't know if it's in the print edition or not). Take, for example, this bit:
Huntsville residents regard their city as an oasis, as un-Alabaman as Alabama can be. But they acknowledge that the state’s backwater reputation is a hindrance to recruiting. Local boosters are hoping to use the 50th anniversary of Explorer I on Jan. 31 as a way to promote Huntsville as Rocket City, unveiling a new pavilion, housing a 363-foot Saturn V rocket, at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, a museum and popular tourist attraction.
We're depending on a museum exhibit of a 40-something-year-old relic to promote ourselves as the Rocket City? I mean, sure, the new display is really nice, and nothing at all against the Saturn V, but, you know, I think restoring Huntsville's reputation as the Rocket City today has a lot more to do with the fact that we're building rockets again, that we're currently designing what will be, far and away, the most powerful launch vehicle ever. Yet this article has no mention at all of Ares.

Still, wasn't it nice of the illustrious New York Times to spend a few minutes noticing our quaint little Rocket City ... in Alabama? Y'all come back now, y'hear?

Keywords: apollo,ares,huntsville,media,nasa,saturn,space,ussrc

17 December 2007

+ 1 - 0 | § Naming LSAM

Altair logo The next major component of the architecture that will return humans to the moon now has a name. The Lunar Surface Access Module -- the lunar lander -- will be known as Altair. The name joins Ares, the next-generation rockets, and Orion, the new spacecraft.

Along with the name, revealed the project logo, created by Star Trek designer Mike Okuda, drawing inspiration from Michael Collin's Apollo 11 patch. I'm kind of partial to it -- I believe the Altair and Ares logos are my favorite of the four he's designed (which can be seen at the link above).

Also, in a bit of quid pro quo, this should somehow lead to Michael Collins getting to develop some sort of logo for the new Star Trek movie. (I wonder if each ship will have its own insignia, per TOS.)

Keywords: apollo,constellation,design,history,moon,nasa,space,star_trek,star_trek_xi

12 December 2007

+ 1 - 0 | § Space Race '08

white house at nightAnother installment in my series of posts about space-related comments by presidential candidates:

Dennis Kucinich

"She talked about an ambitious plan to retrofit American homes with wind turbines and solar panels. Mass transit systems are also desperately needed, she said.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) should be put to work on these projects, instead of sending people to the moon, Kucinich said." -- Space Politics, 10 December 2007

It joins the previous entries:

Mike Huckabee

"Whether we ought to go to Mars is not a decision that I would want to make, but I would certainly want to make sure that we expand the space program, because every one of us who are sitting here tonight have our lives dramatically improved because there was a space program — whether it’s these screens that we see or the incredible electronics that we use, including the GPS systems that got many of you to this arena tonight. ... Or whether it’s the medical technologies that saved many of our lives or the lives or our families, it’s the direct result of the space program, and we need to put more money into science and technology and exploration." -- Space Politics, 29 November 2007

Rudy Giuliani
"He said he supported continuing to aggressively pursue space exploration." -- The Tallahassee Democrat, 5 April 2007

Tom Tancredo
"The question is a serious one and it deserves a serious answer, and that is this: Look, we’ve been — how many times up here, how many questions have dealt with the issue of deficit spending, the debt out of control? And yet, we have somebody saying, “But would you spend more money on going to Mars?" And the suggestion that we need to spend more money on space exploration. This is it, folks. That’s why we have such incredible problems with our debt, because everybody’s trying to be everything to all people. We can’t afford some things, and by the way, going to Mars is one of them.." -- Space Politics, 29 November 2007

Newt Gingrich
"...he said he would ... offer a $20 billion reward for the first private company that successfully completes a Mars mission. 'Somebody would be there and back about 40 percent of the way into the NASA process.'" --, 9 June 2007

Mitt Romney
"Regarding NASA's plans to return to the moon and Mars, he said he hadn't decided if that was the exact plan he'd pursue, 'but I have no reason to change that at this point.'" -- Florida Today, 7 August 2007

Hillary Clinton

"But in a telephone interview afterward, she said that in the short term she would subordinate Bush administration proposals for human exploration of the Moon and Mars to restoring cuts in aeronautics research and space-based studies of climate change and other earth science issues.
Travel to the Moon or Mars 'excites people,' she said, 'but I am more focused on nearer-term goals I think are achievable.'"
-- The New York Times, 5 October 2007
“Democratic White House hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) has pledged to pursue 'a successful and speedy transition' from the soon-to-be retired U.S. space shuttle fleet to 'a next-generation space transportation system that can take us back to the Moon and beyond.'”
-- Space News, 14 November 2007

Barack Obama
"Barack Obama’s early education and K-12 plan package costs about $18 billion per year. He will maintain fiscal responsibility and prevent any increase in the deficit by offsetting cuts and revenue sources in other parts of the government. The early education plan will be paid for by delaying the NASA Constellation Program for five years, using purchase cards and the negotiating power of the government to reduce costs of standardized procurement, auctioning surplus federal property, and reducing the erroneous payments identified by the Government Accountability Office, and closing the CEO pay deductibility loophole. The rest of the plan will be funded using a small portion of the savings associated with fighting the war in Iraq.." -- Official Education Plan, 20 November 2007
“I’m inspired by the idea of going to Mars,” he replied, projecting friendly sincerity. “I’m also mindful of the budgetary constraints. So I won’t give you an answer right now.”
-- Space Politics, 10 October 2007

Bill Richardson
"He did say that he sees space as 'a bona fide area of economic growth and opportunity'..." -- Space Politics, 4 June 2007

John Edwards
"I am a strong supporter of our space program. It reflects the best of the American spirit of optimism, discovery and progress.

We need a balanced space and aeronautics program. We need to support solar system exploration as an important goal for our human and robotic programs, but only as one goal among several. And we need to invite other countries to share in a meaningful way in both the adventure and the cost of space exploration." -- A Blog Around The Clock, 9 July 2007

Dodd said that “we’re doing okay” and left it at that. Biden professed his support for robotic programs, and when asked about human spaceflight, said, “With clear leadership we can do anything, good luck.” Kucinich said he would double spending “across the board on civilian projects and privatize where we can”, and gave a shout-out for NASA Glenn Research Center, in his district. Richardson said spaceflight was “important” and added that “we should also encourage private companies”, as he has been doing in New Mexico. -- Space Politics, 28 September 2007

Keywords: politics,space

+ 1 - 0 | § STS-122 Update

STS-122 patchPer Spaceflight Now:
Engineers are drawing up plans to load the shuttle Atlantis' external tank with supercold liquid hydrogen next week in a critical test to pinpoint the source of elusive, intermittent electrical problems in low-level fuel sensors that derailed two launch attempts.

Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale said today engineers will tap into the engine cutoff - ECO - sensor circuitry near a control unit in the shuttle's aft engine compartment to hook up test instrumentation that should help locate any bad wiring or connectors in the 100 feet or so of cabling between the box and the sensors at the base of the external tank.

The tanking test is tentatively planned for next Tuesday.

Keywords: international_space_station,launch_schedule,nasa,space,space_shuttle,sts_122