Saturday, February 27, 2010

This Week In Space with Miles O'Brien

"On this edition of "This Week in Space" – the NASA Administrator hits some Congressional turbulence over NASA's new budget, shuttles Endeavour and Discovery are on the move, new pics of ice geysers on one of Saturn's moons, Orbital Sciences says its safety first for its new commercial spaceship, astro-immigrants are spotted in the Milky Way, and our own Miles O'Brien testifies to the Senate on NASA's future."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This Week In Space with Miles O'Brien

"The International Space Station gets a room with a view like no other - many wish NASA had as clear a view of what is next in space. "This Week in Space" talks to the exiled president of the "Constellation Nation" – former NASA boss Mike Griffin – who equates the Obama decision to Richard Nixon's cancellation of Apollo – only worse. And we hear from a leading space entrepreneur – Eric Anderson of Space Adventures - who says the Obama plan is "brilliant... a masterstroke of U.S. space policy."

I do not have the expertise nor the experience to comment on the technical merits of the Orion or Aries designs so let’s leave that to the true rocket engineers. However, it does not take a financial or project management genius to figure out that one of the reasons Constellation is behind schedule and over spent is that it has been underfunded from the very beginning. I want to clarify that when I mean “Constellation” I mean the goal of returning and establishing a permanent presence on the moon, and establishing the means to leave LEO for exploration of Mars and near earth asteroids sometime in the future. This has not been the first time  a President has chartered a huge goal only to have Congress not support it. I really believe those who state that Constellation as funded was not sustainable and a return to the moon by 2020 unrealistic. I also agree with those who state that LEO operations should be best left to commercial entities in the future. What concerns me about the cancellation of Constellation is not having a heavy lift capability in the near future.

Now listen closely to Eric Anderson. Rewind and listen to every word he says. What he says makes complete sense. It has been almost 49 years since Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 flight. Since then NASA has done an amazing job in robotic exploration of the solar system, of landing 12 American’s on the moon, building a fleet of Space Shuttles and constructing the International Space Station. How could anyone not be proud of all those achievements? Having said that, human spaceflight today is still a government owned operation and spaceflight is exclusive to a few individuals selected every few years who may get a chance to fly perhaps two missions in their entire career. I don’t know about all of you, but this is certainly not my vision of a human spaceflight program. I agree wholeheartedly with Eric Anderson and he articulates my vision better than I can and certainly in a fewer words than I could. It is time to build a commercial spaceflight infrastructure with commercial spacecraft and astronauts, handover LEO operations to these companies when they mature out and prove themselves and allow NASA (and fund them appropriately) to do the really big things. It is time to charter NASA to go beyond LEO and plan and execute missions to near Earth asteroids, Mars and beyond. Now that would be quite exciting and rejuvenating.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"This Week In Space" for Jan. 29: Obama rocks the space community with new marching orders for NASA that don't include a return to the moon, Lockheed Martin's John Karas dissects why building rockets and spacecraft is such a hard business and Mars rover leader Steve Squyres talks about the future of Spirit.

"This Week in Space" with Miles O'Brien for January 24, 2010. "A decision nears from President Obama on the future of the manned space program, Elon Musk of SpaceX vehemently denies his rockets will be unsafe for astronauts, the clock ticks down to the launch of the shuttle Endeavour, the rover Spirit moves (but just a little), and Miles checks out the lunar-inspired artwork of moonwalker Alan Bean."

January 15, 2010 episode of "This week in Space" hosted by Miles O'Brien. Miles talks about how the entire space nation is awaiting to hear from President Obama, getting ready for the upcoming launch of Endeavour (STS-130) which will deliver a room with a view (the Tranquility Hub), how an abandoned McDonald's at NASA Ames is being used to restore closeups of the Moon, a space telescope finds new planets, plus an interview with Hubble repair astronaut John Grunsfeld.

This Week in Space, January 15, 2010 from Spaceflight Now on Vimeo.