Saturday, November 21, 2009


Update (November 25):

Here's another secret!
@glxp Scheming to start a secret project, to be revealed at Christmas if all goes to plan!

Earlier secrets:

@dmasten - I wake up to #LHC spooling up, #STS129 EVA2, Spirit doing another drive, and stuff I cant say yet. What an awesome time to be alive!

Stuff Dave Masten can't say yet? I have to assume that with Dave's reaction, whatever it is, it's good.

@jeff_foust - NASA's Jay Steptoe on MPLMs used to carry supplies to ISS: "there will be future uses of them that I can't talk about yet."

I've heard of potential uses for modified MPLMs as storage areas on the ISS.

@alanstern - is anticipating an extensive new exploration of the Moon.

Back from DC. Saw the Moon every night and wondered if I might just go there after all. Shhhh. Something's brewing almost no one knows.

Count me in the "doesn't know" category. I'll give an opinion here that's similar to one I gave in a recent post. Regardless of whether the reaction to the Augustine Committee report is something like the report's "Flexible Path" or "Moon First", a strong push with robotic lunar precursors and a generally strong push towards the Moon is in order.

Moon First is, of course, all about the Moon for the time being.

Flexible Path starts with Earth-Moon Lagrange points and lunar orbit, which calls for substantial robotic lunar work. In fact, if the Augustine assessment that it will take quite a few years to start human beyond-LEO missions is right, it makes even more sense to make a strong robotic push so we can make valuable progress in the meantime.

Earth-Moon Lagrange points and lunar orbit also encourage us to set up space infrastructure that will help enable later astronaut visits to the lunar surface, and that in the long run could use lunar resources. Flexible Path emphasizes deep space destinations for astronauts, but the lunar surface is an astronaut destination in the Flexible Path that is strongly encouraged by the Augustine report. The costed version of the Flexible Path includes it, and it uses commercial services like those that are anticipated from the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge and the Google Lunar X PRIZE.