Year 3 Number 38

Friday / 28 February 2003

Highlights
"Stanford on the Moon" exploratory committee developing position paper; hopes will lead to major Stanford lunar presence by 2015; news@spaceagepub.com   Lunar Stock Exchange (LunarX) establishes "Improvement Capital Board" as alternative listing exchange for emerging aerospace companies; thelunarstockexchange.com

Lunokhod 1, The First Remote-Controlled Moon Rover Was Carried To Moon By Luna-17 In 1970; Craft Still There Can Be Salvaged
National Review writer John Miller: China space program is "admirable and worrisome... (the US) must maintain our superiority in space, if only for military reasons;" bostonglobe.com   International Lunar Exploration Working Group luncheon meeting set by Bernard Foing (ESTEC/ESA) for 19 Mar at LPSC in Houston TX; bfoing@estec.esa.nl


Features

Space Tourism Industry Can Flourish With Serious Commitment to RLV Technology. "As far as any new human activity can be predicted, it is certain that space tourism will become big business. The question is when?" wrote David M. Ashford in his article "Prospects for Space Tourism," published in 1990 in Tourism Management. Various scenarios for space tourism are on the table now — from sub-orbital weightless flight experiences to hotels on the Moon, and today, as in 1990, the issue still comes down to committing enough resources to make safe affordable space access a reality. One of the biggest blocks to space access is the continued dependence on expendable launch vehicles. Currently, as the director of Bristol Spaceplanes, Ashford laments the loss of momentum in space transportation development built up by the X-15 sub-orbital plane project, a situation he ascribes to political suppression. "A fully reusable orbital successor could have been in service twenty years ago," he says. "Spaceplanes would by now be within sight of the turnaround time, life and maintenance cost of airliners, and the cost of sending people to space would be one thousand times lower than it is now." Despite these set backs, Bristol Spaceplanes continues to push on with development of the Ascender sub-orbital spaceplane, the Spacecab fully reusable spaceplane and the Spacebus, a 50-seat passenger vehicle which should have a cost per person to orbit of around $10,000. Info: http://www.bristolspaceplanes.com.

Human Mars Exploration Headed for Political 'Train Wreck; Authors Debate Moon vs. Asteroids. Donald Robertson writes in The Space Review that the likelihood of trouble is so great that advocates for human exploration of the Solar System should probably look elsewhere: a return to the Moon or asteroid mining. The problem is the possibility of contaminating life. No one will ever be able to say for certain, says Robertson, that Mars is sterile. Discovery of life would mean a back-out strategy would have to be implemented, and that would be extremely expensive. Any microorganisms on Mars would have to be left alone to their own destiny. Where should humans go then? Robertson says the Moon is close and inexpensive, but has few accessible resources needed to support humans. Also there does not appear to be ways to easily generate high-value items that can be traded for terrestrial resources. Asteroids, however, are rich resources of volatiles and carbon compounds, so living off the land should be practical and the political costs are low. Moon author David Schrunk offers a strong argument for putting lunar first, beginning with Malapert Mountain in the south polar region. He points out the possible presence of water at the poles and that infrastructure could be built from nonvolatile lunar regolith using 'lagging-edge' technologies. Robertson responds that missions to Earth-approaching asteroids and building a permanent base on Earth's Moon could be a single project. Info donaldrf@saber.net; docscilaw@aol.com.

The Planetary Society Reminisces about Lunakhod Designer Alexander Kemurdjian. Alexander Kemurdjian, chief designer of the first automated Moon rover, the Soviet Lunokhod, died 24 February in his home city of St. Petersburg. His close friend and colleague Louis D. Friedman at The Planetary Society recollects Kemurdjian's contributions to planetary science and international cooperation in space exploration in his article posted on the Society's website (http://planetary.org/) Wed. Kemurdjian was not only responsible for the first (and still only) automated Moon rovers, but also created the first Mars rover as well. His small rover Marsokhod actually made it to the surface successfully on the Soviet 1971 Mars lander although the lander failed. He led a team that introduced the virtues of a Mars rover to the world in the Society's international testing program in the late 1980s. His work has had extraordinary influence on robotic designs in the USA and Europe as well as in Russia. He was "profoundly influential in putting a human face on the concept of Soviet-American cooperation," writes Friedman. "I was always struck by this man -- a Soviet military secret … -- who turned out to be a warm, gracious colleague and friend to so many of us."


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