Showing posts from March, 2010

Moon First, for Robotic Exploration

"NASA will immediately begin to realign programs and organization, demonstrate new technical capabilities, and undertake new robotic precursor missions to the Moon and Mars before the end of the decade."
  - President George W. Bush, Vision For Space Exploration, 2004.

“What is needed is a carefully thought out plan to characterize and demonstrate ISRU on the lunar surface first with a series of robotic precursor missions, building up knowledge and capability with time, and ultimately supporting and provisioning human presence on the Moon. Such an architecture is possible within the proposed budget envelope.”
  - Dr Paul Spudis, The Once And Future Moon, 2010.
(and you have no idea how much violent agreement went into getting that quote.)

There's no question that robotic missions are valuable precursors to manned missions.  Without the results of the seven spectacular Surveyor landings the design of the Apollo missions would have been a lot different, and may not have work…

SpaceX Failures

SpaceX: Falcon 9 engine test aborted before ignition

This is to be expected..

It's about perception though.  Elon Musk is talking to the media, and that's a start, but he isn't saying enough to educate the public about what a test program is and what the purpose of it is.  For example:

Elon Musk on CNBC (YouTube)

Interesting, but a wasted opportunity.  He needs to say something like:

   "We're starting our test program now at Complex 40 at KSC.  Our goal is to figure out all the things that can go wrong and develop procedures to safely deal with them.  If everything works first time that'll be disappointing as we won't have the opportunity to learn anything.  So we're going to keep trying and trying until we get a problem, analyze that problem so we know how serious it is, then go again until we know where all the problems are.  That way, by the time we go for launch, we'll know how to work through any problems and safely launch on schedule.  Obvious…