December 18, 2017

15.04.10: President Obama Addresses the Space Coast.

President Obama made a short stop to speak at the Kennedy Space Center today on his way to Miami. He was greeted by both space enthusiasts and nervous NASA employees who rightly wonder about the ultimate fate of their jobs as a result of the ending of the Space Shuttle program later this year. Would his speech be a Kennedy-esque vision or a consolation prize?

It’s a truism that when Kennedy spoke we didn’t even know how to reach LEO; 8 years later, we were on the Moon. That’s the kind of vision we need. Obama’s last visit to Florida didn’t fill NASA fans with a lot of hope; not only did he essentially nix the Constellation, but his promised “train to Disneyland” seemed like a bit of a snub. Mind you, we like this Prez… during the election, he was the only candidate that could speak articulately about science. Still, there seems to be a certain reluctance for the current administration to do something truly visionary. [Read more...]

29.01.10: A Failed Vision: Where does the U.S. Space Program go from here?

By now, everyone in the astro-blogosphere has heard the bad news concerning the Constellation program. No Ares. No Mars. No permanent presence on the Moon. This week’s announcement of Congress failing to provide funding for the future manned space program comes as a tremendous blow to all who work in and follow the space industry. All we’re left with is the vague promise of the development of a heavy lift rocket to get us out of low-Earth orbit, a promise that might be over a decade from lift-off… at this point, it seems as if we may be headed towards another lean decade, much like what struck the space program in the 70’s after Apollo.

But is there hope? Certainly, the dual forces of crisis and opportunity may well come into play here. While the shuttle program is coming to an end, the extension of the International Space Station out to 2020 assures us that our manned presence in space will indeed continue. Scientists and astronomers may quietly breathe a sigh of relief, as the axe didn’t fall on their pet space probe, and funds for small shoe-string unmanned projects won’t be sacrificed to the dollar-guzzling manned space program.  Perhaps, as some might argue, the “Apollo on steroids” approach lacked the vision to truly grab the public’s imagination and was doomed from the start. But all would ultimately acknowledge that we truly need both, a robust manned program and a diverse unmanned space exploration program. It’s true; we are in financially troubling times. Unfortunately, space exploration tends to wind up on the short list of many inside the beltway as they search for perceived pork barrel projects to cut. But history has shown that nations that cease exploration and curiosity tend to end up as historical has-beens’ as they become introspective and withdrawn. Perhaps the sight of Chinese or Indian astronauts setting up shop alongside our hallowed Apollo sites will be enough to inspire a new space race… but will it be too late? “How could this have happened?” the credulous public will then say… how did we end up so far behind?

We here at Astroguyz believe now is the time for vision and action in space. What’s needed are some truly innovative plans for exploration; how about a manned mission to an NEO such as Apophis in 2029? Or funding the shelved Terrestrial Planet Finder?  Or further exploratory landers for Europa or Titan? A heavy lift platform also gets astronomers wheels spinning as to the payloads it could launch. Now might be the time to dust off some of those innovative alternate plans that engineers were said to have been moonlighting over years back. But one thing is certain; any new drive into space must be accompanied with a twin drive in science education as seen in the 60’s to be truly effective. This week’s news may have been a major setback, but there are lots of intriguing options out there; let’s get out of low-Earth orbit and back into deep space exploration, this time, for good!

2010: A Lookback at the Year in Science and a Look Ahead.

2009 was a year of silent triumph in the world of science. Unmanned spacecraft scoured the solar system, while at home, we saw the first tentative steps signaling a transitioning of manned spaceflight. Indeed, as we pause to enter a new decade, all eyes are on change and what it will bring about for science and the world at large. As we endeavor to keep up with our ceaseless calendar, here’s the Astroguyz down and dirty on happenings in 2009 A.D. and a look ahead;

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October 2009: Life in the AstroBlog-o-Sphere.

(Editor’s note: If case you haven’t noticed, we’re shaking things up here a bit at Astroguyz. Specifically, our news bits have gone to a daily affair, to allow for more nimble and timely coverage. It’s a swiftly changing world out there in the realm of space blogging, and Astroguyz is right there with you! Our monthly news round up will instead be a sneak peak at the month ahead, some bits old and some new. Read on…

Coming to an October Sky near you: This month, all telescopes will be turned on the south pole of the Moon on the 9th as the Delta Centaur upper stage known as LCROSS slams into the lunar surface. Will anything be visible? The only sure way to know is to look! The Harvest Full Moon, a rarity for October, arrives this month on the 4th. [Read more...]

22.9.9 Update: The Lunar Lander Challenge.

NASA wants you to design the next round of moon vehicles. The Lunar Lander Challenge has been going on hot and heavy since July, with four separate teams vying at various levels. The latest attempt was the Xombie lander flown by Masten Space Systems debuted on the 16th of this month, at the attempt of a level 1 $150,000 prize. The lander failed to meet the criterion, but made for a cool video! Masten plans for two more attempts on Oct 7-8 and 28-29 before the close of the Oct 31st window. The Challenge is part of the Lunar X Prize Foundation, and four teams are competing over the next six weeks at Moffett Field, California and Masten Space Systems at their Mojave test center. May the best lander win!