25 August 2013

Lt Col Garretson addresses Starship Congress on a Billion Year Plan

Planetary defense: Which strategy will Russia choose?

From: http://rbth.ru/science_and_tech/2013/08/22/planetary_defense_which_strategy_will_russia_choose_29117.html

Planetary defense: Which strategy will Russia choose?

August 22, 2013 Andrei Kislyakov, special to RBTH

Russian researchers have been developing systems to gather data on the most dangerous threats to the Earth — and to destroy them, if need be. Yet a specific strategy for neutralizing space threats has yet to be developed.

The latest news from space is depressing: The threat of space objects hitting the Earth is rising by the year. According to NASA, 16,602 man-made objects were orbiting the Earth as of July 3, 2013.

Only 3,612 of those were active satellites. The rest were space junk of one kind or another. To make matters worse, the Earth has been increasingly under attack by aliens from remote corners of space — asteroids.

“It used to be believed that fragments such as those from the Tunguska meteorite could hit the Earth once in 700–900 years, but now the theory is that such events might occur much more frequently — every 90–100 years,” says Yuri Zaitsev, an academic adviser at the Academy of Engineering Sciences.

More:  Moscow envisions national asteroid-defense system

More asteroids have been discovered over the past decade than in the previous two centuries. “Impacts are all but inevitable — it’s just a matter of time,” the scientist says.

Detect and destroy

According to the general director of the Planetary Defense Center, Anatoly Zaitsev, the “Citadel” International Planetary Defense System — a project presented in March 2013 — should incorporate two or three observer spaceships, reconnaissance satellites to identify asteroid parameters and trajectories, and interceptor satellites capable of destroying an asteroid or changing its trajectory.

The designers estimate it would take around five or six years to create the system, at a cost of around $2 billion.

The leading Russian space corporations have come up with projects of their own. The Energiya Rocket & Space Corporation is prepared to develop a heavy-duty, nuclear-powered carrier to deploy anti-asteroid ammunition in space by 2020 or 2030.

The Lavochkin NPO has developed a sketch of a module designed to land on an asteroid to install a radio transmitter, which would help calculate the space object’s trajectory with more precision.

Initial observations in 2004 indicated a probability thatApophis would strike the Earth in 2029. Additional observations eliminated this possibility. Yet the possibility remained that, during a close encounter with the Earth, Apophis would pass through a gravitational keyhole between 6.5 and 1,970 feet wide, making a future impact inevitable.

Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin has stated repeatedly that the choice of defenses should depend on the size, weight, composition and specifications of the dangerous object.

Russian experts tend to believe that nuclear charges should be used to destroy dangerous asteroids and comets. It remains to be seen, however, which space threat neutralization method Russia will eventually chose.

Meanwhile, putting nuclear ammunition in space to counter the asteroid threat might create some international military and political complications. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin stated as much in late February 2013. He believes that certain foreign countries might put nuclear weapons into space for military purposes, in the guise of anti-asteroid weapons.

Reduce the chances of a catastrophe to zero

Physical destruction of asteroids is a matter of the future. Currently, it is most important to gather information on the most dangerous space objects approaching the Earth, such as the asteroid called Apophis.

Although NASA refined its observations in January 2013 and almost excluded the risk of Apophis impacting the Earth during the decades ahead, the risk will not disappear and preparations should start now, the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Space Research Institute, Lev Zelyony, believes.

“I think that the most effective way would be to soft-land a spacecraft on such a threatening object and try to change its trajectory over time, using electric thrusters,” says Zelyony.

Related topic: Space

The technology could be perfected by a joint Russian-American project to capture a small asteroid and tug it closer to the moon’s orbit.

“We are talking about pulling a 50- to 65-foot asteroid into the moon’s orbit using a space tractor, and starting to work with it—perhaps send a manned mission to it, or study it using automatic vehicles,” Vladimir Popovkin said in April. The total project cost could come to $2.65 billion.

20 August 2013

Orbits of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids

From: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130812.html Explanation: Are asteroids dangerous? Some are, but the likelihood of a dangerous asteroid striking the Earth during any given year is low. Because some past mass extinction events have been linked to asteroid impacts, however, humanity has made it a priority to find and catalog those asteroids that may one day affect life on Earth. Pictured above are the orbits of the over 1,000 known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs). These documented tumbling boulders of rock and ice are over 140 meters across and will pass within 7.5 million kilometers of Earth -- about 20 times the distance to the Moon. Although none of them will strike the Earth in the next 100 years -- not all PHAs have been discovered, and past 100 years, many orbits become hard to predict. Were an asteroid of this size to impact the Earth, it could raise dangerous tsunamis, for example. Of course rocks and ice bits of much smaller size strike the Earth every day, usually pose no danger, and sometimes creating memorable fireball and meteor displays.

More than 100,000 want to go to Mars: Prospective Martians apply for one-way trip to red planet

From: http://www.clickorlando.com/lifestyle/technology/More-than-100-000-want-to-go-to-Mars/-/2242398/21404096/-/vmqh3az/-/index.html (CNN) - More than 100,000 people are eager to make themselves at home on another planet. They've applied for a one-way trip to Mars, hoping to be chosen to spend the rest of their lives on uncharted territory, according to an organization planning the manned missions. The Mars One project wants to colonize the red planet, beginning in 2022. There are financial and practical questions about this venture that haven't been clarified. Will there be enough money? Will people really be able to survive on Mars? But these haven't stopped some 30,000 Americans from signing up. You can see some of the candidates on the project's website, but they're not the only ones who have applied, said Bas Lansdorp, Mars One CEO and co-founder. "There is also a very large number of people who are still working on their profile, so either they have decided not to pay the application fee, or they are still making their video or they're still filling out the questionnaire or their resume. So the people that you can see online are only the ones that have finished and who have set their profiles as public," Lansdorp said. The entrepreneur did not specify how many have paid the fees, completed their profiles and configured them as private. The application process Anyone 18 or older may apply, but the fee depends on a user's nationality. For Americans, it's $38. The company said it sets the price based on the gross domestic product per capita of each nation. "We wanted it to be high enough for people to have to really think about it and low enough for anyone to be able to afford it," Lansdorp said. For the first crew, the Mars One mission will cost $6 billion, Lansdorp said. The idea is for it to be funded by sponsors and media that will pay for broadcasting rights of shows and movies documenting everything from the astronauts' training on Earth to their deployment and colonization of Mars. Out of the applicants, Mars One said it will select a multicontinental group of 40 astronauts this year. Four of them -- two men and two women -- are set to leave for Mars in September 2022, landing in April 2023. Another multicontinental group of four will be deployed two years later, according to the Mars One plan. None of them will return to Earth. The astronauts will undergo a required eight-year training in a secluded location. According to the project site, they will learn how to repair habitat structures, grow vegetables in confined spaces and address "both routine and serious medical issues such as dental upkeep, muscle tears and bone fractures." "What we want to do is tell the story to the world," Lansdorp said, "when humans go to Mars, when they settle on Mars and build a new Earth, a new planet. This is one of the most exciting things that ever happened, and we want to share the story with the entire world." How will Mars be colonized? Each lander that Mars One sends will be able to carry about 5,511 pounds of "useful load" to Mars, he said. After eight missions, more than 44,000 pounds of supplies and people are expected to have arrived. The capsules themselves, whose weight is not included in that number, will become part of the habitat. Food and solar panels will go in the capsules. Earth won't be sending much water or oxygen though -- those will be manufactured on Mars, Lansdorp said. Astronauts will filter Martian water from the Martian soil. "We will evaporate it and condense it back into its liquid state," he said. "From the water we can make hydrogen and oxygen, and we will use the oxygen for a breathing atmosphere inside the habitat. This will be prepared by the rovers autonomously before the humans arrive." It sounds like terraforming, a process in which the conditions of a planet are modified to make it habitable, but Lansdorp said it isn't. "We will create an atmosphere that looks like the atmosphere on Earth, so you could say that we are terraforming the habitat. But to terraform the entire planet, that's a project that will take hundreds and hundreds of years," he added. A dangerous mission In spite of the risks of space travel, the Mars One founder said he is convinced of the viability of the project. However, some space travel experts have said the risks are far too high to carry out these manned missions to Mars, a distance that humans have never traveled. Radiation is a big concern. NASA does not allow their astronauts to expose themselves to radiation levels that could increase their risk of developing cancer by more than 3%. To maintain the radiation exposure standards that NASA requires, the maximum time an astronaut can spend in space "is anywhere from about 300 days to about 360 days for the solar minimum activity. For solar maximum, in ranges anywhere from about 275 days to 500 days," said Eddie Semones, NASA spaceflight radiation officer. A round-trip journey to Mars could expose astronauts to the maximum amount of radiation allowed in a career under current NASA standards, according to a recent study by scientists at the space agency. Mars One is planning a one-way journey, which doesn't negate the problem, and being on Mars could expose astronauts to even more radiation, depending on how long they stay and what the shielding conditions are like. Radiation damages cells' DNA, which can lead to cell death or permanent changes that may result in cancer. However, "there's no convincing human evidence for excess abnormalities in offspring of radiation-exposed adults," Semones said. While orbiting the Earth, astronauts get exposed to greater concentrations of cosmic background radiation than here on Earth in addition to charged particles trapped in the upper atmosphere and from the sun, said Robert J. Reynolds, epidemiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center. As a spacecraft moves into deep space, the people on board would be exposed to even more cosmic radiation and solar particles, which is "fairly dangerous," Reynolds said. Interestingly, according to Reynolds, astronauts' risk of dying of cancer is lower than that of the general public because they tend to be in shape, eat well, don't smoke and receive careful monitoring from doctors. Of course, none of them have been to Mars. Semones emphasized that NASA does not study the health effects of Mars colonization and that it's focusing on shorter recognition missions of the surface of Mars. "We're not looking at colonization of Mars or anything. We're not focusing our research on those kinds of questions." Can it be done? Mars One isn't the only group hoping to make history by sending people to the red planet. The Inspiration Mars Foundation wants to launch two people -- a man and a woman -- on a 501-day, round-trip journey to Mars and back in 2018 without ever touching down. At this time there is no technology that can protect astronauts from an excess of space radiation. "The maximum number of days to stay with our standards is on the order of 500 days. So any mission that would exceed 500 days would not be doable," Semones said. Reynolds agreed: "At this point it's completely infeasible to try to send someone to Mars unless we can get there faster or we develop better shielding for a spacecraft." NASA is working on engines intended to cut the travel time to Mars by the 2030s, but those systems won't be ready for many years, Chris Moore, NASA's deputy director of advanced exploration systems, told CNN this year. In the meantime, Moore said engineers could try to limit travelers' exposures by designing a spacecraft in such a way that it provides more protection. But Mars One founder Lansdorp insisted his group will get people landing on Mars by 2023. "The risks of space travel in general are already very high, so radiation is really not our biggest concern," he said. If that all sounds good, you can still sign up. But remember: You can never go home again.

Papers and policy recommendations from the 2013 Planetary Defense Conference in Flagstaff are now available on-line

From: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=44482 Planetary Defense Conference 2013 AIAA White Paper from the PDC is available at http://doctorlinda.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/2013-pdc-white-paper.pdf Here is the web link for Conference papers, posters and presentations. https://www.wuala.com/IAAbackup/Big%20Files%20Flagstaff/?key=G6FttSjkXG9T Summary and Recommendations Over 200 experts from around the world participated in the 2013 IAA Planetary Defense Conference; a meeting that concluded with a tabletop exercise exposed participants to a realistic asteroid warning and impact scenario and asked that they develop responses to the threat from multiple perspectives. Recommendations arising from this experience are below. Discovery: Discovery remains the most critical aspect of planetary defense. We have discovered only a small percentage of the objects that could destroy a city or cause severe regional destruction, and such an object could enter our atmosphere today with little or no warning. Necessary tools that include space-based survey systems such as that proposed by the B612 Foundation, enhanced ground-based systems such as Pan-STARRS, and upgrades to radars that will improve precise tracking and measurements of an object’s size, rotation, and other factors that inform the design and execution of deflection efforts. UN efforts to formalize cooperative interactions among nations to improve observation and discovery capability should be supported. Characterization: Research is increasing our understanding of the types of structures and materials that might be encountered by deflection/disruption missions and the responses to kinetic impact and other deflection/disruption efforts. This work will increase confidence in the success of deflection/disruption missions and potentially limit the number of launches required to achieve the desired result. Verification of our ability to move an asteroid: Missions are being proposed that would use kinetic impactors to move an asteroid, and the impact and motion away from the original path would be verified by observer spacecraft. Designing these missions and developing the necessary tools and payloads for these types of actions would verify model predictions and build confidence in our abilities to deal with an actual threat. Disaster mitigation: Tabletop exercises for limited audiences are demonstrating the effectiveness of these exercises in making people aware of the unique aspects of asteroid threats and where work needs to be done. Exercises involving disaster response agencies at the local, state, national and international level would help these agencies be prepared for disasters that might be caused by asteroid impacts. Being Prepared: Atmospheric entries of NEOs of sufficient size to cause serious damage are rare on human time scales, but the need for an active deflection/disruption response could occur at any time. The challenge is to develop response plans and to put cost effective procedures in place to preserve technologies and capabilities necessary for a response. For example, algorithms that can guide a spacecraft moving at 10s of km/sec relative to an approaching asteroid must be made available and tested prior to when they are needed, as must the thruster and other hardware necessary to execute the algorithms’ commands. Procedures should be developed that will maintain a catalog of necessary equipment and tools and assure that these capabilities are tested and verified as part of other missions. Similarly, current procedures for launching spacecraft should be examined to see what can be done to make it possible to reprogram an existing launch vehicle and mount and launch a new payload quickly. Potentially, a low level build-up of an effective planetary defense capability over time could be done with modest sustained annual investment. Public education and outreach programs also contribute to readiness and preparedness for NEO threats. International efforts: Planetary defense is an international responsibility and current efforts at the United Nations to provide opportunities for space agencies to begin to plan for shared responsibilities and coordinated actions should be supported. Bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements will also be necessary as part of the overall coordination of resources and capability. Communications: The Planetary Defense Conference exercise and the exercise recently conducted by NASA and FEMA helped solidify the importance of developing and moving forward on an overall coordination and communication plan for planetary defense related topics. Information on the nature of a NEO threat, possible deflection/disruption options, the evolution of a threat scenario, risk and uncertainty, and credible tools for simple deflection mission design should be added to currently available authoritative web pages. NEO News is an informal compilation of news and opinion dealing with Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and their impacts. These opinions are the responsibility of the individual authors and do not represent the positions of NASA, Ames Research Center, the International Astronomical Union, or any other organization. For additional information, please see the website http://impact.arc.nasa.gov. If anyone wishes to copy or redistribute original material from these notes, fully or in part, please include this disclaimer.

NASA's Bolden downplays planetary defense, science benefits of asteroid mission

From: http://www.examiner.com/article/nasa-s-bolden-downplays-planetary-defense-science-benefits-of-asteroid-mission August 10, 2013 post in the Space Politics blog relates how NASA Administrator Charles Bolden made a remarkable admission about the planned asteroid mission that the space agency is contemplating. Not only will it not advance the cause of planetary defense against asteroid strike but will have no significant scientific benefit. Instead Bolden defended the asteroid mission, which would involve the capture of a small asteroid and its diversion to lunar orbit to be visited by astronauts, as an engineering exercise. It would test a number of technologies that is hoped would be applicable for an eventual crewed mission to Mars, such as solar electric propulsion. Bolden also seemed to admit that the choice of an asteroid mission is largely budget driven, since he stated that there is not enough money to return to the moon, something desired by many in Congress as well as by experts both inside and outside of NASA. The space agency also seemed to suggest that the planned 2021 date for the crewed part of the mission was likely to slip, mainly because of the difficulty of finding a target asteroid of the right size, orbit, and mass. “Previously, NASA had talked about redirecting an asteroid to provide a destination for the first crewed SLS/Orion mission, designated Exploration Mission 2 (EM-2), planned for launch in 2021. One challenge has been, though, finding a target that, even in the most optimistic scenarios for the development of the robotic ARM spacecraft, could be put into the designed distant retrograde orbit by 2021. In a briefing about the initiative at the NAC meeting, NASA’s Michele Gates said ‘our current concepts are looking at either EM-3 or EM-4’ for the Orion mission to the asteroid. That would likely push out the mission into the mid-2020s, given the expected cadence of at least two years between SLS/Orion flights.” There is no word about what the first one or two crewed SLS/Orion flights would accomplish.

07 August 2013

Terrific article on Elysium and Space Colonies (lots of cool pictures!)

We need a lot more of these!
http://www.space.com/22229-space-station-colony-futuristic-technology.html Incredible Technology: How to Build a Space Station Colony by Miriam Kramer, SPACE.com Staff Writer | August 05, 2013 12:42pm ET From the article: While a self-sustaining space station colony might be a long way off, scientists are still working to design and perhaps even build a space station that goes beyond low-Earth orbit. "It extends the capability of humans to be out in space away from Earth," Paul Bookout, project manager of the concept demonstrator for Deep Space Habitat at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said of building a space station in deep space. "For example if you could go to a near-Earth asteroid and you had a habitat out there, you could stay extended periods of time … and do research on the asteroid, bring samples back in, continuing work out there instead of trying to bring small samples back to Earth." "The premise is totally believable to me," Mark Uhran, a former assistant associate administrator for the International Space Station at NASA Headquarters, said of the movie. "When I took a look at the Elysium station, I thought to myself, that's certainly achievable within this millennium." "It's clear that the number-one challenge is chemical propulsion," Uhran told SPACE.com. "We learned an Incredible Technology: How to Build a Space Station Colonyby Miriam Kramer, SPACE.com Staff Writer | August 05, 2013 12:42pm ET 78 45 11 Share15 An artist’s depiction showing the exterior of Bernal Spheres space colony from space colony summer studies conducted at NASA Ames in the 1970s. The Bernal Sphere is a point design with a spherical living area for a population of 10,000. Credit: NASA Ames Research Center / Rick Guidice View full size image Life in a space colony would be different from life on Earth. Gravity might be a thing of the past, everyone could drink distilled urine, and a whole generation of Earthlings may grow up without ever having set foot on the surface of the planet. At the moment, those ideas are still firmly set in the realm of science fiction, but in the next 1,000 years, new technologies could be developed that would enable humanity to colonize space. While a self-sustaining space station colony might be a long way off, scientists are still working to design and perhaps even build a space station that goes beyond low-Earth orbit. [See Photos of NASA Space Colony Designs from the 1970s] "It extends the capability of humans to be out in space away from Earth," Paul Bookout, project manager of the concept demonstrator for Deep Space Habitat at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said of building a space station in deep space. "For example if you could go to a near-Earth asteroid and you had a habitat out there, you could stay extended periods of time … and do research on the asteroid, bring samples back in, continuing work out there instead of trying to bring small samples back to Earth." An artist’s depiction of a construction crew at work on the Bernal Spheres colony from space colony summer studies conducted at NASA Ames in the 1970s. Credit: NASA Ames Research Center / Don DavisView full size image"Elysium" — a new science fiction film about a world in which only the rich and powerful can live in a seemingly utopic space station orbiting Earth — is the newest in a long line of movies dealing with the science of space living. "The premise is totally believable to me," Mark Uhran, a former assistant associate administrator for the International Space Station at NASA Headquarters, said of the movie. "When I took a look at the Elysium station, I thought to myself, that's certainly achievable within this millennium." How to build a station Engineers and researchers need to overcome a few major obstacles before a sustainable space station colony is a viable possibility, Uhran said. "It's clear that the number-one challenge is chemical propulsion," Uhran told SPACE.com. "We learned an incredible amount with [the International Space Station] and we demonstrated that we have the technology to assemble large structures in space. What we need are rockets that can get material out of the Earth's gravity well and deliver it to whatever location the future space station is assembled." The supplies needed to create the space station don't necessarily have to come from Earth, Uhran said. Asteroids and other planetary bodies like the moon could provide elements needed to build the station. However, moving the heavy supplies to their proper place in orbit from any cosmic hub would still be a challenge for current propulsion systems. Engineers will also need to create a closed-loop life-support system that can recycle most of the materials used in the colony to make the space station sustainable indefinitely. Currently, the International Space Station operates at about a 70 to 80 percent closed loop system for water.

Departing Earth from Messenger