November 20, 2013
World's first space tourist gives details on manned mission to Mars in 2017 - 2018
Dennis Tito, the American entrepreneur who paid $20 million in 2001 for a trip to the International Space Station, spoke before a House subcommittee on space today to outline his plans for reaching Mars. According to Tito, the "Inspiration Mars" endeavor will be a fly-by mission that'll take two astronauts 808 million miles from Earth to Mars and back again in 501 days. And he'll need more than $1 billion to do it. The plan works within a narrow timeline that takes advantage of a rare alignment in Earth and Mars' orbits. According to Tito's written testimony, the launch will need to take place between Christmas 2017 and January 5th, 2018 to ensure a speedy trip. So to pull that off, Inspiration Mars will need complete cooperation from NASA — the two-man crew aboard the Inspiration Mars' commercial craft will need the space agency's huge Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to propel them there. The SLS rocket is still under development.
November 5, 2013
Why India's Mars Mission Is So Much Cheaper Than NASA's
Former NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin pioneered a "faster, better, cheaper" approach to America's space program, but he would have been hard-pressed to deliver a Mars mission for the bargain-basement price of India's first probe to the red planet, which blasted off Tuesday.
"India's Mars mission, with a budget of $73 million, is far cheaper than comparable missions including NASA's $671 million Maven satellite that is expected to set off for Mars later in November," reports The Wall Street Journal, which is among several publications noting the disparity between the cost of U.S. space missions and India's burgeoning program.
Even the project director of India's Mars orbiter mission has been quick to tout his country's frugality in space:
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)
"This is less than one-tenth of what the U.S. has spent on their Mars mission Maven," S. Arunan told reporters at a pre-launch news conference last week, according to Al-Jazeera, which added that "the cost-effectiveness of the mission is indeed turning out to be the highlight of the project, almost eclipsing the other aspects."
October 16, 2013
Spaceflight experts work on alternate vision for Mars trips
While NASA works on a multibillion-dollar, decades-long space exploration plan that relies on monster rockets, an informal cadre of engineers is laying out a different vision that would take advantage of cheaper, smaller spacecraft that can fuel up at "truck stops" along the way.
Right now, the alternate vision, known as the "Stairway to Mars," is little more than an engineering exercise. But the plan's proponents on the Space Development Steering Committee say their scenario for Mars missions in the 2030s may have a better chance of becoming a reality than NASA's scenario.
Millions Of Miles From Shutdown, Mars Rovers Keep Working
The budget negotiations in Washington are not front-page news on Mars. There, millions of miles away, NASA's rovers continue to operate, taking photographs and collecting data as they prepare for the coming Martian winter. The two rovers are taking in data and getting into strategic locations before winter arrives on Mars in a few months.
The scarcity of sunlight shouldn't pose a challenge for Curiosity, whose systems are powered by heat generated by the radioactive decay of plutonium. NASA hopes that the older Opportunity, which powers itself with solar panels, will be aided by its position on a north-facing slope.
October 4, 2013
Mars mission preparations continue despite shutdown
Briefly threatened with missing some or all of its limited launch window to Mars because of the partial government shutdown, NASA's Maven mission on Thursday won approval from the space agency to resume preparations for a launch next month from Cape Canaveral.
"We have already restarted spacecraft processing at Kennedy Space Center, working toward being ready to launch on Nov. 18," said Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator for the $671 million mission. "We will continue to work over the next couple of days to identify any changes in our schedule or plans that are necessary to stay on track."
October 2, 2013
U.S. Government Shutdown Stops MAVEN Work; Threatens NASA Mars Launch!
The upcoming Nov. 18 blastoff of NASA’s next mission to Mars – the “breathtaking beautiful” MAVEN orbiter – is threatened by today’s (Oct. 1) shutdown of the US Federal Government. And the team is very “concerned”, although not yet “panicked.”
MAVEN’s on time launch is endangered by the endless political infighting in Washington DC. And the bitter gridlock could cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars or more on this mission alone!
Why? Because launch preparations at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) have ceased today when workers were ordered to stay home, said the missions top scientist in an exclusive to Universe Today.
“MAVEN is shut down right now!” Prof. Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN’s principal Investigator, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, told Universe Today in an exclusive post shutdown update today.
October 1, 2013
As Comet ISON sweeps past Mars today, most observations will happen
Despite the U.S. government shutdown today, it appears that many planned observations of Comet ISON – as it sweeps dramatically close to the planet Mars today – will happen. NASA has a skeleton crew in support of the six crew members aboard International Space Station (ISS) in place, so presumably they will observe Comet ISON today, as previously announced. Likewise, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE instrument will be turned in Comet ISON’s direction today, according to Anjani Polit, the HiRISE Uplink Lead.
US government shutdown puts Mars rover to sleep
Just days after the Curiosity rover amazed the scientific community when it found water on Mars, it has been forced in hibernation by the shutdown of the US government.
Curiosity will now enter ‘protective mode’ for its own security, according to NASA, and ‘no new data gathering will take place’.
June 20, 2013
With Current Budget, NASA Will Never Get to Mars
At today's House hearing for the NASA Authorization Act of 2013, witness Thomas Young was asked how long it would take the Agency to put a human on Mars with its current budget. His response was unambiguous: “Never.”
Prepared statements from Young (former executive VP of Lockheed Martin) and co-witness Steven Squyres (Principle Investigator of the Mars Exploration Rover mission) paint an inauspicious picture of NASA's current standing, and its continued role in humanity's exploration of deep space.
May 15, 2013
Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Doubling NASA’s Budget, Mission To Mars
The American public overwhelmingly support a doubling of NASA’s budget in order to fund a mission to Mars, according to a recent survey. The poll, commissioned by Explore Mars, a nonprofit organization, and aerospace contractor Boeing, also demonstrated a high degree of enthusiasm about human exploration of Mars.
The survey found that 76 percent of Americans agree that NASA’s budget should be increased to 1 percent of the total federal budget to fund initiatives, including a mission to Mars. Currently NASA’s budget represents less than 0.5 percent of overall federal spending.
Poll respondents said they think a manned mission to Mars should be the country’s top priority in space exploration. The poll also showed that, in spite of the current budgetary climate, Americans remain very optimistic about the prospect of putting humans on Mars within the next two decades, with 71 percent saying they expect it will happen by 2033.
April 1, 2013
MISSION TO MARS: My Vision for Space Exploration
In a new book from National Geographic, celebrated astronaut and bestselling author Buzz Aldrin boldly advocates continuing exploration of our solar system. In MISSION TO MARS: My Vision for Space Exploration (National Geographic Books; ISBN 978-1-4262-1017-4; on sale May 7; hardcover), by Buzz Aldrin and Leonard David, Aldrin lays out his goals for the space program and how he believes we can get humans to Mars by the 2030s, a vision shared by President Obama and one that is fortified by private industry and international cooperation.
In the book, which includes a foreword by Aldrin’s son Andrew, Aldrin makes the case and argues passionately for pushing our boundaries of knowledge and exploration of our solar system and presents his “unified space vision.” Aldrin discusses the history of space flight, including a reflective, not nostalgic, look at the people, technologies and steps that were taken to accomplish America’s Apollo moon landings, and plots a course of future exploration. He says “Do not put NASA astronauts on the moon. They have other places to go.” And he emphasizes that the path forward is not a competition; we cannot restart an engine to rerun a race we previously won. This is a controversial notion that causes significant division among astronauts.
March 20, 2013
NASA Passed on Mars Flyby Mission in 1990s
U.S.News & World Report
Millionaire entrepreneur Dennis Tito got space enthusiasts excited last month when he announced a project to fly a married couple around Mars in 2018—but NASA may have passed on a similar mission when it was proposed in the late 1990s by a prominent aerospace engineer.
According to Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society and a prominent advocate for exploration of the red planet, he had meetings with former NASA administrator Daniel Goldin in the late 1990s to pitch him a nearly identical mission to Tito's that would have launched in 2001 and cost the agency about $2 billion.
Dubbed Athena, the mission would have used technology that existed in 1996 on a two-year Mars flyby mission. Two astronauts would have orbited the planet for about a year, remotely-controlling rovers on the Martian surface with about 100 times less lag time than rovers controlled from Earth. The spaceship would never land on Mars, which Zubrin contends was Goldin's problem with the mission.
February 21, 2013
Americans Support Humans to Mars
The Huffington Post
A new national poll released two weeks ago helped to characterize the level of American support for Mars exploration. In these complex times, are Americans in favor of human exploration of the Mars? The answer is an unequivocal YES.
Basically over 70 percent of "the" Americans believe that we should send humans to Mars to explore the planet, and that it is ok to spend up to one percent of the federal budget on NASA (over twice the agency's current budget) to do so.
February 12, 2013
Americans Anticipate Manned Mission to Mars Within 20 Years
According to a poll dubbed Mars Generation, Approximately 75% of Americans are excited for and anticipate a manned mission to Mars in the next 20 years, with more than half of American's feeling NASA should "play a strong role" in assisting a commercial company, or head up a mission themselves.
In the same poll, conducted by Phillips & Company and sponsored by The Boeing Corporation and Explore Mars, a majority of respondents incorrectly answered that they felt NASA's budget represented 2.5% of the federal budget (~$88.5 Billion). When presented with the reality that NASA's Fiscal Year 2013 budget sits at about .5% ($17.7 Billion) of the federal budget, 75% of those polled felt the Agency's funding should be doubled to 1% ($35.4 Billion) of the federal budget, with the express purpose of funding a manned mission to Mars.
January 18, 2013
NASA Mohawk Guy to Ride With Mars Rover in Obama’s Inaugural Parade
Presidential inaugurations are big deals, and tend to attract high-profile stars like Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen who are eager to rub elbows with the newly inaugurated commander-in-chief. But next week, a very unusual celebrity will be appearing in President Obama’s parade: the NASA scientist known as “Mohawk Guy.”
Bobak Ferdowsi, who earned the love and admiration of nerds everywhere as the vertically coiffed activity lead for NASA’s mission to Mars, will be rolling with his fellow scientists in Obama’s inaugural parade on Jan. 21 and a full-scale model of the Curiosity rover that they safely landed on Mars in August of last year, as well as a life-size replica of the new Orion capsule. And in true Ferdowsi fashion, he’s also planning a new haircut for the event – but all he’s saying right now is that it will be a “surprise.”
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