NASA on the Block

By Robert Zubrin, Washington Times, August 24, 2011

America’s human spaceflight program is adrift. The space shuttle has made its final flight, and the Obama administration has no coherent plan what to do next. Instead, it has proposed that the United States waste the next decade spending $100 billion to support a goalless human spaceflight effort that goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing. In the face of a mounting imperative to find ways to cut the federal deficit, this has set up the nation’s space program for the ax.

In order for NASA’s human-exploration effort to be defensible, it needs a concrete goal and one that is truly worth pursuing. That goal should be sending humans to Mars.

As a result of a string of successful probes sent to the Red Planet over the past 15 years, we know for certain that Mars was once a warm and wet planet and continued to have an active hydrosphere for a period on the order of a billion years – a span five times as long as the time it took for life to appear on Earth after there was liquid water here. Findings released by NASA last week indicate that underground water seeps are reaching the surface of the Red Planet periodically. Thus, if the theory is correct that life is a natural phenomenon emerging from chemistry wherever there is liquid water, various minerals and a sufficient period of time, life must have appeared on Mars and may still be there.

For full article please click here.

Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics and of the Mars Society (www.marssociety.org). An updated edition of his book “The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must,” has just been published by the Free Press.

Case for Mars Cover

Quick Recap of our August 14th Meeting

All:

I just wanted to give a quick recap of our August 14th meeting.  We had a relaxed celebration of the conference: it was great to just gather and enjoy each other’s company without the pressure of the convention planning, and to relish the memories of the 14th Annual Mars Society convention!   We had a brief awards ceremony for all those who worked on the convention.

And I do believe that we set an attendance record!  We had 14 or 15 folks (I wasn’t taking notes!), including Josh, a new prospective member who dropped in and regaled us with tales of arguing in front of the Supreme Court, no less (welcome Josh!).

It was great to see James H and family: we know that the long drive from Hillsboro on the busiest day of the week is a real sacrifice.

And thanks to Kris for arranging for the awards, they were very eye catching, and well earned by a great team!

With that, Juno is on its way to Jupiter, Opportunity has arrived at Endeavour Crater, and Curiosity is getting ready at the Cape, and it is getting late and I have to go…..

See you Sunday!

Kurt

Convention Followup

The convention just finished and it was a great experience! The convention went smoothly, the speakers were great, and we met and made friends and engaged on many exciting topics and side discussions.

Talks covered topics ranging from the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory and proposed Geological Monitoring System (GEMS) Discovery mission, the latest from SpaceX and the Kepler mission, as well subjects as varied as power systems, navigation, and growing food on Mars.  Panel discussions and track talks led to many side discussions and exchange of new ideas.

On a more somber note, Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, warned of the dire straights NASA’s manned space program faces given its current rudderless direction in today’s budget environment, and gave us all a call to action.

We had attendees from around the country as well as several from overseas, and got to meet old friends, make new ones, and meet many locals interesting in our chapter.  Thanks again to everyone in the local chapter and national whose efforts, dedication, time, and patience made this not only a success full, but fun experience!

See you on the 14th!

Kurt