Kindred Spirits – Space Nation
I ran across a new organization out there, Space Nation, who has the noble goal of creating the largest space discovery community on the planet. Their belief statement reads thus:
“We believe that Astronaut skills are life skills. Using a range of space experiences to connect everyday life to space, and space to everyday life, we’re motivating and enabling discovery of space skills for 21st Century Space Travelers.
We believe that expansion to space is a key moment in human evolution that brings new perspectives, unity and tangible benefits to humanity, the Earth and worlds we have yet to discover.”
To those of us on the Outbound journey, this sounds incredibly familiar.
Frankly, it’s exciting to peruse their website, and see the sorts of things they’re delving into. In particular, they are working on what they call the Space Nation Astronaut Program (SNAP). This program kicks off in February of 2018, including a new smartphone app that guides the program participants as they work their way forward, culminating in a possible free flight into space for the top performer! This is a bit if genius where they offer free training towards an astronaut skillset and way of thinking, under the concept that astronaut qualities are excellent qualities for life in general. As per the Outbound motto, “We Live and Work In Space”, Space Nation’s philosophy aligns so very well with our own.
I’ve signed up for their “Space Station Orbit” newsletter and also for the SNAP, and I have to say, I am excited to see what begins to develop two months from now.
Keith Cowing at NASAWatch seems offended by this image:
#JourneyToMars Facebook hype from @LockheedMartin As if Orion with only a service module will be in Mars orbit
Here’s a bit of SpaceX concept art that is essentially the same as the CowingSnark is concerned about:
It’s rather GOOD concept art, and I can see why Elon Musk published it on Instagram. Can we NOT poke at concept art? That seems incredibly picky, perhaps even petty.
I took a look at the data presented in Table 1 of NineSigma’s proposal information, and compared the Moon and Martian materials to Earth values. There are a few first thoughts:
1. As it might be expected, just a straight comparison like this shows that the lunar material composition holds the greatest parity with Earth. While not a part of this study, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that there is a sizeable number of lunar geologists that theorize that the Moon is a chunk of material that was once part of Earth.
2. Silicon Dioxide is by far the primary compound at all three locations.
3. Despite similarities with terrestrial soils, lunar samplings show a distinct lack of Sulfate and Chlorine.
The points above generate some paths to follow:
1. What terrestrial structural materials can be most easily replicated, and which correlate better with the Moon vs. Mars?
2. Is there a particular structural material and/or process that significantly involves Silicon Dioxide or related compounds?
3. What limitations does the poverty of lunar Sulfate and Chlorine enforce?
So, I’ll now look at those questions.
I find Table 1 of the Nine Sigma In-Situ Competition to be very interesting. It’s a simple summary chart of various soil/rock material distributions for Earth, Moon, and Mars, as defined by percentage mass.
I think that’ll be my first line of attack. Let’s see what is common enough between the terrestrial and the extraterrestrial and pick some building materials.
I’ll post the chart itself later,as I’m on my phone at the moment.
In my continued theme of interesting YouTube wanderings, I’ve run across this video:
The Mars Underground
It describes the history of the Mars Society and the Mars Direct mission. Again, I wouldn’t recommend this unless I really enjoyed watching it, which I did. However, I have come to the definite conclusion that Robert Zubrin is one bitter guy. I hope he can find a way to shed his attitude, and stow the chip on his shoulder somewhere far from his reach. I think he is really a (frustrated) genius, and would move with more freedom and be better regarded without his acerbic tone.
I’m working on a big CAD project at the office, and I tend to zone out to music or documentaries. Below is another of the latter that I’m really enjoying at the moment.
This is a really great bunch of film history of the original astronauts from Mercury through Apollo. The restoration of these candid shots is wonderful, and for those of us who like to see space nostalgia walking and talking, it’s quite a sight. And yes, the background audio is not linked to the video, it’s a media presentation of what I understand was the third group of astronaut selectees. Enjoy!
The Lost Archives: NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Missions
One of the dual-purpose areas of interest for us is the blending of space development with terrestrial benefits. Not ancillary spinoffs, but really conscious efforts to make space technology directly applicable to earthly needs and desires.
NASA has offered a prize challenge here
for coming up with ways to use Martian materials for either textile production or for building structures. Outbound is particularly interested in building efficient and technologically advanced living and working buildings, so this is a pretty good fit. I think we’ll take a closer look at this challenge and work to submit a proposal.
Well. That’s some big news.
Mars has liquid water.
It’s been long suspected, watching the changing striations over the years, and sensing what seems to be material of the proper density just under much of the service. But real chemstry showing the action of liquid water… that is truly the operational door that any future crewed Martian missions would need to walk through to do just about anything of real value.
You need plastic, water has the hydrogen.
You need working fluid for machining operations. Water works pretty well as a base.
Fuel’s the thing? Hydrogen and Oxygen split pretty simply.
Food? Water feeds plants and animals both. Mars already has carbon for proteins and carbohydrates.
Something to drink? Water, right?
You’re fond of breathing? Oxygen again.
This announcement today has been on the tip of our scientific tongues for decades, and now it can be spoken of confidently. It will take a bit for this to filter through current events, and for it to sink in with mission planners and policy makers. But it will.
I am not the only person in the space commentary community to have missed this flight test, but kudos to Blue Origin. They got half of what they wanted (capsule recovery yes, fly-back booster lost) and that’s very encouraging. Getting those fly-back boosters to work is proving more difficult than expected, I think, but now there is a second company joining SpaceX in developing the technique.
Blue Origin New Shepard First Flight