Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

McCain supports Extending Shuttle

From Florida Today here:
In a letter dated Monday, McCain and two colleagues raised concerns about an impending five-year period when the United States will have to pay Russia to taxi American astronauts to and from the $100 billion International Space Station.

They urged Bush to "direct NASA to take no action for at least one year that would preclude the extended use of the space shuttle beyond 2010."

"We believe that it is imperative, as NASA continues the transition from the space shuttle to successor vehicles, that the means for producing additional flight hardware and obtaining additional flight engineering and support services, not be completely and irretrievably lost through the destruction or deterioration, at least until a clear path to alternative launch capabilities is in hand," the letter says.

It was signed by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La. Both serve states that have large NASA facilities: Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

The letter was delivered to the White House one week after community and business leaders on Florida's Space Coast met privately with McCain to brief him on challenges faced by NASA and the nation's space program.

Good move on McCain's part. With the current crisis in Georgia, we can't depend on the Russians for transport to the ISS. We have so much invested we can't let the Russians bilk the USA to the point where we can't get to the ISS.

Virus on ISS computers

From Telegraph here:
The virus, known as W32.Gammima.AG, was carried into orbit on laptops brought up by astronauts in July.

The International Space Station orbits about 215 miles above Earth
The International Space Station orbits about 215 miles above Earth

The space station's core operations have not been affected – Nasa described the infection as nothing more than a "nuisance" - but an investigation has been launched into how security systems were breached.

W32.Gammima.AG is a worm virus that was first detected in August 2007. It copies itself onto computers in order to steal log-on information - including usernames and passwords - for online games. The virus then attempts to send the information back to a central computer.

At least two laptops on the ISS have been infected, suggesting that once on board the virus may have been transferred on a memory device that was plugged into both computers.

This is believed to be the first reported case of a space station computer getting a virus, but a Nasa spokesman said there had been previous instances.

"It's not a frequent occurrence, but this isn't the first time," Kelly Humphries told the Wired website.

Computers on the ISS are not directly connected to the internet, although they have access to a satellite data link which allows then to send and receive emails, information and videos.

The infected laptops are used by the astronauts to compose email and store information on nutritional experiments, and are not part of the space station's "command and control" network, Nasa said.

Nasa is working with its international partners on the space station, including Russians, to find out how the virus got on board, it said.

Monday, August 18, 2008

McCain at Brevard College

From Flame Trench here:
McCain said it is unacceptable for the U.S. to have to rely on the Russians, especially given the current conflict with Georgia and the resulting strain on U.S.-Russian relations. He got no argument from the people in the room, but several of the company and other local leaders said extending the space shuttle was the way to prevent that.

Mike McCulley, a former astronaut and former top executive with space shuttle prime contractor United Space Alliance, gave the most direct appeal for continuing shuttle operations so that the U.S. can get astronauts to the space station.

"We are going to look up one night and see this $100 billion thing going by with no Americans on it," McCulley said, his voice rising as he spoke. McCain nodded along and asked a couple questions about McCulley's position, but mostly just listened.

"That just makes me shudder," McCulley continued. "It made me shudder in January of 2004 (when President Bush announced the new space exploration vision). The only way that you cannot have a gap is to continue to fly our existing system and that is the shuttle."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Warp Drive a possibility

From Telegraph here:
Now Dr Gerald Cleaver, associate professor of physics at Baylor, and Richard Obousy have come up with a new twist on an existing idea to produce a warp drive that they believe can travel faster than the speed of light, without breaking the laws of physics.

In their scheme, in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, a starship could "warp" space so that it shrinks ahead of the vessel and expands behind it.

By pushing the departure point many light years backwards while simultaneously bringing distant stars and other destinations closer, the warp drive effectively transports the starship from place to place at faster-than-light speeds.

All this extraordinary feat requires, says the new study, is for scientists to harness a mysterious and poorly understood cosmic antigravity force, called dark energy.

Dark energy is thought responsible for speeding up the expansion rate of our universe as time moves on, just like it did after the Big Bang, when the universe expanded much faster than the speed of light for a very brief time.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Most Famous UFO Ever, The Jupiter Two


In the Shadow of the Moon - NEW TRAILER!

Things You Can't a Stormtrooper | Ep 1

Walt Cunningham in Launch Magazine

A commentary on the Gap and the current dependency on the Russian space program here.
We cannot afford to lose our lead among space-faring nations. Narrowing the gap between the shuttle and Orion would reduce the problem of holding on to a skilled workforce and help the United States maintain its lead in space exploration, along with the related science and technology that drives economic growth. U.S. dominance in space hasn’t been lost yet, but it is definitely eroding.
What we really need is a fix for the five-year hiatus, not a band-aid. That means both extending the life of the shuttle and moving the launch date for Orion forward. NASA needs a $2 billion appropriation to extend the life of the shuttle for 18 to 24 months, and an additional $2 billion to move the first flight of Orion closer by 18 to 24 months.

Four billion dollars is a drop in the bucket for a $3 trillion federal budget and a $13 trillion economy. The money would enable us to maintain world leadership in a range of technologies essential for our future well-being and allow us to continue to sit at the top of the technical pyramid. As the richest country on the face of the Earth do we really want to be dependent on Russia to launch our astronauts into space? I think not!

Again, I think that McCain is the candidate of choice if the space program is going to survive the gap.

Space Policy debate between campaigns

I knew that Lori Garver would be Obama's space policy expert since she was John F Kerry's expert in 2004. John McCain's expert is Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham. HT to Terrestial Mussings here. The great debate was yesterday at the Mars Society Convention in Denver.
Noted that Lori is more up to speed on space advocacy than Walt. But I have this gut feeling Lori just wants an administration position.(I wonder why she picks the Democrats instead of the Republicans?) Lori is a wantabe space tourist while Walt has been there on Official Business!
I know I'm biased in that I support John McCain for president. But I wanted to see this debate happen between both campaigns and my hats off to the Mars Society for hosting it. We can see what both sides present and then take it to the ballot box in November. But since I'm a space fan and love the space program, I think its great that McCain got the real deal in Walt Cunningham.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The experts talk about the rotten Russian plan

From Flame Trench here:
"I don't want us to concentrate on retiring the shuttle because we're really transitioning to the next vehicle," said Parsons.

During the five-year "gap" between shuttle and Constellation, the U.S. will depend on the Russian Soyuz capsule for transport to the $100 billion International Space Station. The Soyuz, however, has developed a technical glitch that could slow its flights. Plus, the Russian attack on the nation of Georgia could hamper agreements that allow NASA to contract with Russia for transport to the station.

"It was a horrible plan to be dependent on the Russians," said Feeney.

He touted a new willingness in Congress to allocate more money for NASA, which has been opposed by the Bush administration.

Let's hope this keeps the Shuttle running a little bit longer.

Georgian crisis will effect ISS

From Flame Trench here:

When I first heard about Russia invading our friend Georgia sent thoughts of our space program halting to me. The shuttle should be kept running during the 5 year gap. Space X still has problems with its Falcon rocket. We can't depend on the Russians to supply us the transport to the ISS when they are aggressive to our democratic ally.
If Russia fails to hold back military action in the former Soviet republic, it could hurt U.S. chances of accessing the International Space Station once NASA retires the space shuttles in 2010, the Orlando Democrat said Tuesday.

The Russian Soyuz vehicle will be the only option available for NASA to send crew and cargo to the space station until the shuttle’s replacement becomes available for manned missions in 2015.

Nelson fears deteriorating U.S.-Russia politics may result in “Russia denying us rides or charging exorbitant amounts for them.”

NASA’s agreement to purchase rides on the Soyuz came about from a waiver Congress granted the agency from the Iran-Syria Non-Proliferation Act. The law prohibits the United States from buying space-related goods and services from Russia while that nation exports nuclear technology to Iran.

NASA's waiver from the ban expires in 2011. Nelson fears that recent developments between Russia and Georgia may make it hard for lawmakers to extend the exemption.

More links on this at NASA watch here.