I believe this was reported earlier, but it is always worth reiterating. One of the essential components of ISRU is readily available on Mars, more so than on the Moon. Of course, the Moon is only a few days away from Earth…
NASA Finds Vast Deposits of Ice Just Under Martian Surface – ExtremeTech
it is a new year, and time to start a new cycle of meetings!
The meeting is on Sunday, Jan 28th at 6PM, at Norma’s Cafe in Plano, near Rt. 75 and 15th street.
We have a new year of activities, including the upcoming Dallas Science Fair judging, and longer term planning for Moon Day, and of course, URC.
This is in many way, will be a year of transitions. I wanted to pass on a thought I had:
We noted with sadness the passing of John Young, Apollo 16 moon walker, on Jan 5 of this year. This leaves only 5 moon walkers left (Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11, Alan Bean of Apollo 12, Dave Scott of Apollo 15, Charlie Duke of Apollo 16, and Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17), less than half the original 12, and now no crew has both Moon walkers left. John Young also orbited the moon in Apollo 10, meaning that with his passing there are only two of the three original ‘double moon shot’ astronauts. What this means is that the Apollo generation, the one that inspired so many (including me) and left such giant footsteps to follow, is fading into history.
Replacing them is a new generation of explorers, progressing forwards without the huge scrutiny, public fascination, or giant (and fickle) government budgets, but whose progress and impact promises to be a steadier, more lasting one. The same month that John Young passes looks to be the first engine test, and very soon after that, the first launch, of the Falcon Heavy.
The largest rocket in terms of payload since the Saturn V, its launch will herald an era where the US has the heavy lift capability needed for manned space exploration. Only, totally unlike the Saturn V, the Falcon 9 Heavy is a privately funded rocket, developed in a fraction of the time, cost, and manpower of its historical ancestor. Behind it is the New Glenn and New Shepherd from Blue Origin, and the NASA SLS. The first deep space mission for the Falcon 9 Heavy is already booked – a manned mission to fly by the moon, paid for by private individuals. Blue Origin’s New Shepherd looks to be ready for manned test flights in a year or two, and SpaceX and Boeing look ready to put astronauts back into space with American hardware by 2019. A small New Zealand company, Rocket Lab, just put their first rocket into orbit In other words, space exploration is shifting to many private firms that will soon make space travel far more numerous and cheaper than the giant government programs of before could ever make possible.
It may not seem like it today, but I think we are on the cusp of a new age of space exploration, bigger and faster than the Apollo that awed me as a child.
Recently, the adult child of one of our members has made it to the latest round for the next NASA Astronaut selection! This is an intensely rigorous process, with over 99% of the applicants already having been weeded out. Now the process has moved to interviews and tests at JSC. We are all excited and proud of our extended family member making it this far.
This will be an especially exciting astronaut class as it appears that they may be from whom the first astronauts may be chosen who will leave near Earth orbit since 1972 – indeed, they may go farther into space than anyone has gone before. We should hear the final results early next year.
Till then fingers are crossed! Good Luck!
P.S. The member wants to keep the identity quiet for now – while an incredible accomplishment to make it this far, they prefer to be anonymous till it is known for sure one way or the other.
Ron and I went to see Charlie Duke, Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 16, at the Petroleum Club last Wednesday, June 29. Charlie is a very articulate speaker with a great sense of humor and humility at the incredible job he did as an Apollo astronaut and Moon-walker. There aren’t many Moon-walkers around, and it was a treat to see and meet one in person (I even got to ride the elevator up to the meeting with Charlie Duke – a long story I’ll tell at the next group meeting!).
Here is a picture of Ron from our group with General Duke.