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Friday, October 14, 2016

To Infinity and Beyond!

Buzz Lightyear
I subscribed to NASA's YouTube Channel in the hope they will send me something interesting. Mostly it's been astronauts talking about life in the space station, or videos of hurricanes. Chit-chat doesn't do much for me, and once you've seen one hurricane blanketing the Earth with a fluffy white blanket of clouds, you've pretty much seen them all. Today though, we got something a little different. I suspect the video is more front-men bloviating, but the blurb that accompanied it was enlightening.
An Oct. 11 opinion article written by President Barack Obama and published by CNN, outlined a vision for the future of space exploration. In it, the president echoed the words in his 2015 State of the Union address about the importance of sending humans on a roundtrip mission to Mars by the 2030s, and developing technology to help us stay on the Red Planet for an extended time. That same day in a blog post, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and John Holdren, assistant to the President for Science and Technology, discussed two NASA initiatives that build on the president’s vision and use public-private partnerships to enable humans to live and work in space in a sustainable way. The first was the selection of six companies to develop habitation systems as part of the agency’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships or NextSTEP program, designed to lay the groundwork for deep space missions. And this fall as part of the second initiative, NASA will start the process of providing companies with a potential opportunity to add their own modules and other capabilities to the International Space Station. The move is in-line with NASA’s plan to support and foster the growing community of scientists and entrepreneurs conducting research and growing businesses in space. - NASA YouTube video.
Link to NASA's NextSTEP press release from last year.
Pergelator posts about Orion Spacecraft

I am a gearhead so I tend to focus on the spacecraft we will need for future missions to infinity. But to my mind, spacecraft are the easier problem. I mean it's all done with metal and numbers and physics and the tests necessary to prove their capabilities are pretty straight forward. Either it survived the trip into space, or it didn't. The harder problems are going to be sustaining a human crew for more than a few days, and how to keep them from killing each other. Compared to these kind of problems, building a spaceship is child's play. I only found one post on these difficult problems: HI-SEAS Mission

P.S. Had a hard time finding a picture of Buzz in space, and after I found this one I realized that he's using the Superman pose of holding his arms out in front on him. Hmm, symbolism.

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