Thursday, October 18, 2012


I know I covered this once before but just read another article this morning that has me all fired up. The person, who shall remain nameless, was seeking to understand why we give so much money to NASA when their time came and went with the moon landing. Are you kidding? Do you really think that is it? NASA does so much stuff – and I only cover what they do in space! They are involved in all sorts of projects on Earth which includes Tsunami Advance Alerts and weather situations and I am really not the one to ask about this as I always pass by tons of data on their websites to get to what I consider the cool stuff. (Someone else considers that the cool stuff, I guarantee it!)

So while I have done it before let me recap some of the ongoing projects NASA currently has:

CURIOUSITY: Had to start with the most obvious. The rover and science lab in one who can pulverize a Martian rock and examine it (read entry on “Jake Rock”) or as it did yesterday scoop up soil for review. And if you saw the video I had on this site of the anticipated landing, the design was ingenious!

ISS/SpaceX : Mentioned in the article was how we no longer fly to the ISS and everything goes through Russia. Is this guy in a cave somewhere? I understand he may not get up and watch the liftoffs on the internet or view the hookups in outer space but SpaceX is now handling the cargo missions and the hopes extends for more – manned missions. There is a mission protocol/goals along the way. SpaceX has one section less the rockets of the past and that means one less to fall back as garbage. Oh wait, did I mention that SpaceX is working on having the various parts be reusable and so set themselves down at preordained locations? Oh and a mission to start at the ISS in 2015 that is to serve as a trial run for people being in space that long.

KEPLER: Kepler, a space telescope that has the goal of locating Earth-sized planets in the habitable of “Goldilocks” zone around its star. To date Kepler has identified more than 2,200 possible planets. Now further research will be done to further document on each planet. Because we do not give NASA a reasonable document they have worked out a system that employs the assistance of amateurs. (some Non-doctors but have the desire to know!)

LCRD (Laser Communications Relay Demonstration) :This is a communications satellite that using line of site laser to transfer HD pictures from MARs or other outlying space locations and also handle the communications audio in a speed that goes from 10 to 100 times faster. Besides it taking quite some time for the communication to get to us from somewhere like, say, Mars, there exists a traffic jam due to all the cell phone and data devices and satellites. Not to mention with regular wave communication all the data is not received and the receiving side fills it in with best guesses using equations. With laser it sends all of the information in a concentrated unit.

SLS (Space Launch System) and Colossal Crawlers : Let’s first talk about the colossal crawler and why they are important. Besides being a true modern marvel in that they can handle not only incredible weights but now they are getting an overhaul to allow them to carry 18 million lbs. Once we have that then another project can finish its final steps and remember its predecessor, Saturn V rocket, NASA is back and ready to go to Mars and beyond.

Voyager(s) : Did you forget about Voyager? I know a lot of people at NASA haven’t. Their still collecting data and handling small emergencies Voyager 1 & 2 were originally designed to study Jupiter & Saturn. Then they were further challenged to take advantage of the alignment of planets (and as a result gravitational assist) and continue their studies out of the solar system to take man where he has literally never been before. There has been some loss in subsystem redundancy but scientific data is sent back to Earth and will be until around 2025.

PLANNED MISSIONS? : This could all depend on you! How sure are you that going to space is an option and we don’t really need to be there? Are you willing to bet not just your life but you child’s life and your grandkid and great grandkid and so on? AND if that isn’t reason enough do you really want the language spoken in outer space to be Chinese or Russian? NASA has a really small budget, don’t let it get cut back or trimmed when it won’t matter to your pocket but can matter to all we hope to accomplish! Remember when I wrote of the inventions and such that come out of space travel both planning for the trip and actually making it. Couldn’t we use a boost to GDP?...There is an intent to have an outpost on moon. This will allow the research on materials collected on Mars to take place without cross contamination. It also will allow us to travel deeper into space and begin somewhere that we don’t need all that fuel initially to leave the atmosphere. There are literally hundreds of reasons to go to the moon and I can’t think of a one to not go…All of the other missions from returning to Mars with more Rovers to blasting off to visit in person or go somewhere else perhaps in deep space are worthwhile from what we might learn to what side benefits we may realize. By trying harder to go to space & to travel into deep space we work harder on the VASIMIR engines, by working on the VASIMIR engines we could end up with cars that not only run on heavy water but run at 90, 110 ,150 miles per hour, and why not, let’s make them fly too!

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