Can a spacecraft hop its way to winning the Google Lunar X prize?
September 2011 | By Michael Belfiore
Part I: Operational Considerations The current controversy over the direction of our national space program has many dimensions but most of the discourse has focused on the means (government vs. commercial launch vehicles) not the ends (destinations and activities). Near-Earth objects (NEO, i.e., asteroids) became the next destination for human exploration as an alternative to [...]
August 31, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
The flood of new data from the Moon continues to enlighten and puzzle lunar scientists. Members of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team have noticed an unusual landform on the far side of the Moon that was as unexpected as it might be significant. We’ve known for many years that early in its history, the [...]
August 03, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
Recently deceased John H. Marburger, former Science Advisor to President George W. Bush and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, had a long and distinguished career as a scientist, an administrator and public servant. I knew him through his advocacy and involvement in the development of the Vision for Space [...]
July 30, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
Today is the 42nd anniversary of man’s landing on the Moon. The first step on the Moon – the step that “divided history” to use the words of the time – and the planting of the American flag there seems like a lifetime ago. As a matter of fact, it was. Tomorrow, the Space Shuttle [...]
July 19, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
“Now is the winter of our discontent” – Richard III, Act 1, scene 1 There is a good piece in today’s Telegraph UK by David Robson of a fateful one-hundredth anniversary – the Midwinter Dinner — June 22, 1911 held in Robert Falcon Scott’s Ross Island hut. A year earlier, Scott and the crew of [...]
June 21, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s special address to Congress – a request for supplemental appropriation for a variety of projects but most famously remembered for the announcement of his Man-Moon-Decade goal of Project Apollo. That event, cited by space advocates and excerpted in space and history documentaries, is remembered as [...]
May 24, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
A perennial hand-wringing topic among policy geeks is America’s decline in math and science proficiency. This sentiment has been expressed the entire 30 years I’ve worked on space science and exploration – new generations don’t care about space, can’t do math and science, can’t think properly and ...
May 14, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
A post-splashdown scandal did not undermine the mission’s scientific achievements.
May 13, 2011 | By Diane Tedeschi
Apollo 17 Commander Eugene Cernan recently voiced his doubts and concerns over the future of the human spaceflight program, while former Lockheed-Martin CEO Norman Augustine reflected on the current state of our space “vision” and/or the possible lack thereof. I found these perspectives by two gia...
May 04, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
One of the guiding geniuses behind the Apollo program is the winner of this year's National Air and Space Museum Trophy for lifetime achievement.
May 2011 | By Michael Klesius
"let us sit upon the ground. And tell sad stories of the death of kings” – Richard II, Act III, Scene 2 The nearly simultaneous 50th anniversary of the beginning of human spaceflight and the forthcoming end of the Space Shuttle program has philosophical members of the chattering classes making the...
April 19, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
At a recent workshop on lunar return, a critical part of the discussion focused on the need for a statement of purpose – a value proposition for the Moon. Over the years I’ve attempted to distill my rationale for lunar return (my “elevator speech” if you will) into a clearly stated and persuasive ...
April 10, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
You Can’t Always Get What You Want (but if you try some time, you might find … you get what you need)
A plan for a human mission to a near Earth object (NEO; an asteroid), designed by engineers from Georgia Tech and the National Institute for Aerospace (GT/NIA), was recently posted online. Keying in on lowering program total costs, this architecture eliminates the need for a new heavy lift launch ...
March 31, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
A recent article about the role of global magnetic fields in the loss of planetary volatiles caught my attention. The article addresses planetary climate issues as they relate to Earth, Mars and Venus, but what struck me was this statement:
We don't have a direct record of the sun's history, but a...
March 22, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
Come home with your shield, or on it – Spartan women to their husbands, marching off to war.From the giant Olympus Mons shield on Mars (600 kilometers across and 27 km high) to the large volcanoes of Venus, shield-building was thought to be a common expression of volcanism on all rocky Solar Syste...
March 19, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
A seemingly trivial event has revealed some schadenfreude about NASA, along with a lot of irritation. Apparently (as is their wont) the fertile minds running our national space agency decided that the time has come (once again) for a new and improved vision statement – out with the old and in with...
February 23, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
A recently published science paper presented results of a re-analysis of seismic (moonquake) data sent to the Earth from a network emplaced by the Apollo astronauts 40 years ago. The scientists processing the old data found that the Moon may have more than a simple core – it may have a layered, pa...
February 04, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
In civil engineering, one of the most important material resources on Earth is “construction aggregate” – the sand, gravel and cement building materials that make up the infrastructure of modern industrial life. Aggregate is easily one of the biggest, most valuable economic resources of all mined ...
January 05, 2011 | By Paul D. Spudis
We are almost at the end of a year that has seen major changes in our space program. We have in hand a report from a “blue ribbon” Presidential committee that concluded that Project Constellation, the architecture NASA had chosen to implement the Vision for Space Exploration, was not affordable at...
December 21, 2010 | By Paul D. Spudis