Two Weeks After International Women's Day, Peggy Whitson Blazes New Trail for Females in Space

Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet, pictured aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Photo Credit: NASA/Thomas Pesquet/Twitter

At 10:38 p.m. EDT yesterday (Monday), veteran NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson—currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a member of the Expedition 50 crew—secured a new record, as the first woman to log a cumulative 500 days in space, across her three-mission career. Her achievement comes less than two weeks after International Women’s Day (IWD) was observed around the world on 8 March. Whitson, a former Chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office, is midway through her third long-duration ISS increment, having previously earned renown as the first woman to command a space station crew between October 2007 and April 2008. She presently also holds records for the oldest women ever to travel into space and the oldest female spacewalker.

Whitson’s achievement places her in an exclusive club of only 20 humans to have exceeded 500 days, or approximately 16.5 months, in space. Most members of that club are Soviet or Russian cosmonauts—with the list currently topped by world space endurance record-holder Gennadi Padalka, who has accrued 878 days across his five missions—and before today, only two U.S. astronauts have entered its exalted ranks. The first was Scott Kelly, who reached a career total of 520 days by the end of his year-long mission in March 2016 and the second was Jeff Williams, who presently stands as the United States’ most experienced astronaut, with a final personal tally of 534 days at the close of his fourth mission, last September. But, significantly, Whitson’s arrival in the 500-day club makes her the first woman to do so.

Peggy Whitson heads out of the Quest airlock on 6 January 2017 to tie Sunita Williams’ record for the greatest number of spacewalks by a woman. Photo Credit: NASA/Thomas Pesquet/Twitter

Selected by NASA for astronaut training in May 1996, Whitson went on to fly a pair of six-month increments to the ISS. She was a Flight Engineer for Expedition 5, launched in June 2002, which saw her become the first NASA Science Officer and return to Earth the following December, only weeks before the tragic loss of Columbia. Whitson next flew to the station in October 2007, taking command of Expedition 16 and leading the outpost through April 2008, during a significant phase of ISS expansion, as the Harmony node, Europe’s Columbus lab and the first elements of the Japanese Kibo facility were delivered. Returning from her second mission, she established herself as the United States’ most flight-seasoned astronaut, with 377 days in orbit, eclipsing previous record-holder Mike Foale.

She later served a three-year tenure as Chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office from October 2009 until July 2012, becoming not only the first woman, but also the first non-military scientist, to do so. Whitson was assigned to the Expedition 50 crew and, when she launched last November, alongside Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky and France’s Thomas Pesquet, she surpassed Shannon Lucid and became the oldest woman ever to venture into space, aged 56. Then, in January 2017, a few weeks shy of her 57th birthday, she exceeded Linda Godwin to become the world’s oldest female spacewalker. Next month, with the departure of the Expedition 50 core crew, Whitson will rotate into the command of Expedition 51, becoming the first woman to lead two discrete space station increments.

Two weeks ago, as the world observed International Women’s Day on 8 March, Whitson’s Expedition 50/51 crewmate Thomas Pesquet tweeted a touching and thought-provoking comment. “Mixed feelings about @womensday,” he wrote. “Why do we still have 364 men’s days per year? Proud to have @AstroPeggy by my side.” At the same time, NASA tweeted a recent image of a group of current and former female astronauts—from early shuttle-era fliers like Anna Fisher and Marsha Ivins to seasoned ISS veterans like Sunita Williams and Kate Rubins and the four women selected back in June 2013—to observe the day. The group was backdropped by an image of Whitson, floating aboard the station.

The records will continue to accumulate for Whitson, as she closes on Kelly and Williams to secure the record for the greatest amount of time ever spent in space by a U.S. national. She is expected to pass Kelly’s cumulative 520 days in the second week of April and will finally eclipse Williams at 5:26 a.m. EDT on 24 April.

According to NASA, Whitson is presently scheduled to return to Earth, alongside Novitsky and Pesquet, on 2 June, wrapping up a 196-day increment, her longest to date. If that date holds, she will log a combined total of 573 days across her three missions, making her the ninth most experienced space traveler of all time. However, speculation has been rife since January that she may remain aboard the ISS until early September, taking advantage of Russia’s decision to reduce its crew complement from three to two members and NASA’s decision to increase the U.S. Orbital Segment (USOS) staff to four astronauts, with a predicted 50-percent increased science yield.

Peggy Whitson (left) and Pam Melroy, aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in October 2007. On this occasion, Whitson was the the first woman to command a space station, whilst Melroy was commanding Space Shuttle mission STS-120. Photo Credit: NASA

If Whitson’s current increment is increased from 6.5 months to 9.5 months, with a new return date on 3 September, she will secure a personal and empirical record for the longest single space mission ever undertaken by a woman, eclipsing the 199 days logged by Italy’s Samantha Cristoforetti in June 2015. A landing in September will see her chalk-up a single-flight record of 290 days and a career total of 667 days, positioning her as the world’s eighth most experienced spacefarer.

In several instances, Whitson has set and re-set her own records. Having secured the record for the greatest time spent in space by an American in April 2008, she later lost that title to Mike Fincke in May 2011. Whether or not she lands in June or September, one thing is certain: she will regain this record.

And with three U.S. Extravehicular Activities (EVAs) slated for late March and early April—two of which will include Whitson—she can expect to push her spacewalking total beyond the 50-hour and 40-minute record for women, set by Sunita Williams. Counting her EVA in January, and six previous excursions during Expeditions 5 and 16, Whitson’s spacewalking tally currently stands at 46 hours and 18 minutes. Within days, the world can expect to see a new record-holder for the greatest amount of EVA time. Moreover, since both women are currently neck-and-neck on seven EVAs apiece, Whitson’s upcoming eighth and ninth walks will see her secure a record for the largest number of EVAs ever performed by a female spacefarer.

It is a remarkable achievement for women in space. Thus far, in a little over a half-century, 60 women—from Russia’s Valentina Tereshkova in June 1963 to U.S. astronaut Kate Rubins, launched in July 2016—have voyaged into low-Earth orbit. Professionally, they have ranged from a factory worker in the case of Tereshkova to engineers, physicists, geologists, medical doctors, chemists and biochemists and from civilians to military officers. Age-wise, in the case of U.S. astronauts, they have run the gamut from 57 years old in Whitson’s case to Tammy Jernigan, who celebrated her 32nd birthday just a few weeks before launching on her first shuttle mission in mid-1991. However, younger astronauts and cosmonauts have flown from other nations: South Korea’s Yi So-yeon was a few weeks shy of her 30th birthday when she launched to the ISS in April 2008, whilst Helen Sharman was 27 when she became Britain’s first spacefarer in May 1991 and, topping the list, Valentina Tereshkova herself was only 26 at the time of her pioneering voyage.

Among them have been not only Russians and Americans, but also British, Canadians, Japanese, French, South Koreans, Chinese and Italians. Dovetailed into this list are U.S. citizens with dual nationality or from overseas heritage, including India-born Kalpana Chawla, Hispanic-American Ellen Ochoa, Ukrainian-American Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Iranian-American Anousheh Ansari. Three African-American women, beginning with Mae Jemison, flew a total of five Space Shuttle missions between September 1992 and April 2010.

The ranks of these pioneering women have included Svetlana Savitskaya, the first female spacewalker, as well as Kathy Thornton, who was first to perform more than one EVA. Indeed, Thornton and fellow astronaut Megan McArthur—who currently serves as Chief of the Mission Support Crew Branch of NASA’s Astronaut Office—are close contenders for having flown higher than any other woman. Both Thornton and McArthur journeyed to the approximately 360-mile (580 km) altitude of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in December 1993 and May 2009, respectively. Twelve women, from Savitskaya in July 1984 to Rubins in the summer of 2016, have performed spacewalks to build and maintain three different space stations—from Russia’s Salyut 7 and Mir to today’s ISS—and to repair and service Hubble.

Several women have reached positions of senior leadership, with Whitson becoming the first female to command a space station increment between October 2007 and April 2008. Previously, Eileen Collins had served as the first female pilot and commander of the Space Shuttle. Another veteran female shuttle pilot, Susan Still-Kilrain, together with the late Janice Voss, also jointly hold the record for the shortest interval from landing and launch between two spaceflights. They both flew on STS-83 and STS-94 in April and July 1997.

And, of course, as Whitson’s record creates a further crack in the glass ceiling of female achievements, it is important not to forget the women spacefarers who are no longer with us. Five have died—including Chawla and Laurel Clark in the Columbia tragedy and the first Jewish female astronaut, Judy Resnik, killed aboard Challenger—and tribute must also be paid to those who never made it beyond the 62-mile (100 km) “Karman Line”: including teacher Christa McAuliffe and Patricia Hilliard-Robertson, who lost her life in the aftermath of an airplane accident in May 2001.

 

 

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46 comments to Two Weeks After International Women’s Day, Peggy Whitson Blazes New Trail for Females in Space

  • Alex Burford

    Peggy Whitson is the Kind of Astronaut who can give NASA, SpaceX and the other Private Ventures who want to go to Mars, the kind of Science and Technology answers and advice that they will need in order to get there.
    “International Women’s Day” has NOTHING to do with it.

  • For the record, Tereshkova was the youngest female to orbit the Earth at age 26.

    • Alex Burford

      It’s a Pity that Tereshkova never flew again.
      I say the same for Gherman Titov, who committed suicide in 2002.
      Also, Yuri Gagarin would have made an EXCELLANT Soyuz Command Pilot.

    • Alex Burford

      It’s a Pity that Tereshkova never flew again.
      I say the same for Gherman Titov who committed suicide in 2002.
      Yuri Gagarin was another who should have been allowed to fly again. He would have made an EXCELLANT Soyuz Command Pilot.
      BTW, during training for ASTP in Houston, around 1974, “Deke” Slayton and Alexei Leonov said that they gave no thought to hold a man was to fly in Space. As “Deke” put it, “I figure a man can fly into his seventies he’s physically fit and up to date in training.” Leonov agreed and John Glenn holds the record for Oldest Man to Fly in Space at age 77 aboard the Shuttle ‘Discovery’ in 1998.

  • Ben Evans

    Correct, Tom. Many thanks. Other non-U.S. astronauts (and cosmonauts) who were younger than Jernigan also included Yi So-yeon at 29 and Helen Sharman at 27.

  • And on the male side, Gherman Titov was the youngest man (about a month shy of his 26th to orbit the Earth on August 6-7, 1961,

  • As for longevity, the oldest living cosmonaut is Georgi Katys (a scientist cosmonaut who was part of the Voshkod 1 team but never flew) approaching his 91st birthday followed by Vladimir Shatalov (90).

  • James

    Thank you Ben Evans for the interesting review article on Peggy Whitson and other women in space!

    Someday, the number of women who have traveled in space will be close to the number of men who have traveled in space… and maybe by then women on the Home Planet, the Moon, Ceres, and Mars won’t have to think about any potential ‘glass ceilings’.

    • Alex Burford

      Let’s Hope Orion and Dragon 2.0 will make that a Reality.

      • James

        And the CST-100 Starliner, Dream Chaser Space System, Soyuz (spacecraft), Federation (Russian Federatsiya), New Shepard, and ISRO Orbital Vehicle might also help to “make that a Reality”.

        Note also:

        “In 2016, Lt Gen. Zhang Yulin, deputy chief of the [PLA] armament development department of the Central Military Commission, suggested that China would next begin to exploit Earth-Moon space for industrial development. The goal would be the construction of space-based solar power satellites that would beam energy back to Earth.[1][2]”

        From: ‘Chinese space program’ at: Wikipedia
        At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_space_program#Proposed_lunar_exploration

        Yep, lots of folks are going to be headed to the Moon and the rest of Cislunar Space.

        “China is developing an advanced new spaceship capable of both flying in low-Earth orbit and landing on the moon, according to state media, in another bold step for a space program that equaled the U.S. in number of rocket launches last year.

        The newspaper Science and Technology Daily cited spaceship engineer Zhang Bainian as saying the new craft would be recoverable and have room for multiple astronauts. While no other details were given in the Tuesday report, Zhang raised as a comparison the Orion spacecraft being developed by NASA and the European Space Agency.”

        From: ‘Report: China developing advanced lunar mission spaceship’
        By The Associated Press BEIJING — Mar 9, 2017
        At: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/report-china-developing-advanced-lunar-mission-spaceship-46012078

        • James

          And of course:

          “The Shenzhou program (/ˈʃɛnˈdʒoʊ/,[1] Chinese: 神舟) is a manned spaceflight initiative by China. The program put the first Chinese citizen, Yang Liwei, into orbit on 15 October 2003.”

          And, “The Shenzhou spacecraft resembles the Russian Soyuz, although it is substantially larger, and unlike the Soyuz, it features a powered orbital module capable of autonomous flight.”

          From: ‘Shenzhou program’ at: Wikipedia

          The Shenzhou could be useful for many decades.

        • Alex Burford

          Thanks James. I keep forgetting those others. I Hope we NEVER use Russian or anyone else’s S/C EVER AGAI. We’ve known since the Beginning that we can do it Ourselves. We need NO HELP from anyone else. “International Cooperation” is a BAD JOKE and the Chinese are A LOT MORE xenophobic and Nationalistic than anyone else. I have serious doubt they will allow non Chinese aboard ‘Shenzhou’ but I could be wrong. The Future is always a ‘?’

          • James

            Alex Burford –

            “the Chinese are A LOT MORE xenophobic”

            My wife was born and raised Chinese. She was not, and is not, xenophobic. Now she is an American.

            Life is good.

            And:

            “I have” no “doubt they will” have many “non Chinese” flying “aboard ‘Shenzhou’”…

            Cheers!

            • Alex Burford

              No disrespect to You or Your Wife, but I have seen video from China, much of it shot by Westerners, which shows a great deal of xenophobic behavior that has been indoctrinized into the people by the Communist Party and Nationalism is expected due to what is taught in Chinese schools.
              I was astounded when I saw it in a PBS documentary about Communist China around 1998.
              As I said, I don’t think they will allow non Chinese aboard ‘Shenzhou’ or even their own Space Station, BUT, I could be wrong. Those last four words were taught to me by the Late Carl Sagan who used them A LOT in his writings.
              BTW, the Chinese Communists have done an INCREDIBLE effort in making sure that the people know NOTHING of the Tianamien Square Massacre of Spring, 1989. I saw evidence of that in an MSNBC report in 2000.

            • James

              Since 1984, I’ve spent about 17 years off and on living and working in mainland China and 4 years in Taiwan, so my perspective might be a bit different than many of the folks that haven’t spent a few years here.

              In any case, have a great week!

      • James

        Dissimilar redundancy in American and international Lunar mission launchers, spaceships, and Landers is needed. Why? Note:

        “The Trump Administration is but a few weeks old, but already a massive change is occurring in the future course of space exploration.”

        And, “If there is one thing that has worked well in the realm of space travel, it is redundancy. The commercial crew program has developed not one, but two spacecraft, the SpaceX Dragon and the Boeing Starliner. The idea is that if one spacecraft has a launch failure that takes it out of commission for a while, the other can take up the slack. The same theory could apply to deep space exploration.”

        From: ‘Everybody’s flying to the moon’ By Mark R. Whittington
        At: http://www.businessinsider.com/everybodys-flying-to-the-moon-2017-3

  • James

    For women to avoid any potential Moon mission ‘glass ceiling’ issues, significant Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding for a future Lunar orbit space station is critical.

    “Galactic cosmic radiation presents a more significant challenge: the time to 3% risk of exposure-induced death (REID) in interplanetary space was less than 400 days for a 30 year old male and less than 300 days for a 30 year old female in the last cycle 23–24 minimum. The time to 3% REID is estimated to be ∼20% lower in the coming cycle 24–25 minimum. If the heliospheric magnetic field continues to weaken over time, as is likely, then allowable mission durations will decrease correspondingly.”

    From: ‘Does the worsening galactic cosmic radiation environment observed by CRaTER preclude future manned deep space exploration?’

    By:
    N. A. Schwadron, J. B. Blake, A. W. Case, C. J. Joyce, J.Casper, J. Mazur, N. Petro, M. Quinn, J. A. Porter, C. W. Smith, S. Smith , H. E. Spence, L. W. Townsend, R. Turner, J. K. Wilson, C. Zeitlin
    November 8, 2014
    At: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014SW001084/full

    Given the reality of useful Lunar polar resources, including massive amount of regolith and other material for shielding from Galactic Cosmic Radiation, the idea of a poorly radiation shielded space station hanging around in a highly elliptical Lunar polar orbit seems to add both unneeded radiation and flight risks and costs to future Lunar surface missions.

    Low Lunar orbits can offer minimal or zero annual station keeping delta-v, much more protection from Galactic Cosmic Radiation by the nearby large ‘Lunar shield’, reduced flight risks, and minimized delta-v to land in the polar regions of the Moon.

    • James

      Note:

      “‘What counts is an orbit’s inclination,’ that is, the tilt of its plane to the Moon’s equatorial plane. ‘There are actually a number of ‘frozen orbits’ where a spacecraft can stay in a low lunar orbit indefinitely. They occur at four inclinations: 27º, 50º, 76º, and 86º’—the last one being nearly over the lunar poles.”

      From: ‘Bizarre Lunar Orbits’ By Trudy E. Bell Nov. 6, 2006
      At: https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2006/06nov_loworbit/

      That low frozen orbit of “86º’—the last one being nearly over the lunar poles” could be quite useful if we are interested in a space station with minimized Galactic Cosmic Radiation risks that can therefore be regularly utilized by both female and male astronauts to efficiently help us tap polar volatiles.

      Both female and male tourists headed to the Lunar surface would also appreciate the Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding offered by the nearby Moon to a space station hotel in a stable low Lunar polar orbit.

      Obviously, the costs of adding meters thick Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding, made of Lunar material, for low Lunar orbit space station would be significantly less than the costs for adding the twice as large amount of needed radiation shielding for a space station in a highly elliptical Lunar polar orbit.

      • James

        “But the most exciting idea behind this new station, destined to make its home orbiting near the moon (aka a cis-lunar orbit), is it will provide a new foothold for future human missions to Earth’s closest celestial neighbors, like asteroids, the moon itself, and Mars. Because the station is in an egg-shaped orbit, stretching anywhere from 1,500 km to 70,000 km (930 to 44,000 miles) from the Moon, it would need only a little push to be sent flying to a yet-to-be-chosen destination.”

        From: ‘Here Is NASA’s Plan for a Space Station That Orbits the Moon’ By Anatoly Zak
        3/30/2017.
        At: http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/a25872/nasa-cis-lunar-orbit/

        The Lost In Space, silly, and nonscientific ‘Let’s ignore Galactic Cosmic Radiation and Lunar resources while pretending we’re going to Mars soon’ mob seems to be still leading NASA to nowhere.

        A low and stable Lunar orbit would be much more useful for reducing Galactic Cosmic Radiation, by using the nearby Moon for partial shielding, and help to reduce delta-v and spaceflight risks in going to and returning from the Lunar surface.

        We should also add robust modules to the ISS with the SLS and make it our permanent home in LEO. The ISS offers a significantly lower Galactic Cosmic Radiation orbit than a foolish and risk adding “1,500 km to 70,000 km (930 to 44,000 miles)” Lunar orbit.

  • …“86º’…utilized by both female and male astronauts to efficiently help us tap polar volatiles.

    What, are they going to drop a straw down to “tap” polar deposits for ≈ 30 seconds as the pass over on each orbit?

    Look: if the Lunar propellant catch-22 can be overcome somehow, the mines and any orbiting depots would be operated telerobotically from Earth, with occasional visits from human technicians.

    • James

      “the mines and any orbiting depots would be operated telerobotically from Earth, with occasional visits from human technicians”

      Initially, yes.

      Wow! Amazing! We sort of agree on something!

      However, Lunar propellant will eventually change many things and:

      “Both female and male tourists headed to the Lunar surface would also appreciate the Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding offered by the nearby Moon to a space station hotel in a stable low Lunar polar orbit.”

      • James

        Perhaps Mr. Robert Bigelow would like to build a space station hotel in a stable low Lunar polar orbit…

        ‘’The new White House needs to make a real commitment to this nation’s space future,’ he said, specifically citing lunar bases and industrial activity. ‘The reason I’m focusing on the moon is because the business case for the moon is potentially substantial compared to the business case for Mars, and the financial requirements are of no comparison.'”

        From: ‘Bigelow calls on Trump to sharply increase NASA spending’
        By Jeff Foust November 17, 2016
        At: http://spacenews.com/bigelow-calls-on-trump-to-sharply-increase-nasa-spending/#sthash.GRzvm8BL.dpuf

        “Without an understanding of Why there can be no discussion of How and all that is left is to fight over What we are doing, Who gets to do it and how much money they can make pretending to do it.

        It has to end — or we, in this incredibly fraught moment of time when we have birthed the weapons of destruction and the wings of the possible from the same egg, when we are teetering on the edge of an abyss and yet can still sense the call of the stars — we will fall. We will stop merely going in circles and begin the long, slow spiral downward into a future of less for all, and hope for none.”

        From: ‘We Must Be Our Own Kennedy’ By Rick Tumlinson May 5, 2015
        At: http://spacenews.com/op-ed-we-must-be-our-own-kennedy/#sthash.mUUnbwom.dpuf

      • James

        “Speaking the day after a North Korean missile exploded within seconds of launch, U.S. Strategic Command’s second-in-command said March 23 that the reclusive nation still poses a security challenge, but one that the space domain can help meet.”

        And, “‘The bottom line is that launching a rocket is hard,’ said Vice Adm. Charles Richard, STRATCOM vice commander.”

        “‘If we have an agreed to set of norms and behaviors, now you start to minimize the chance of miscommunication,’ Richard said. ‘You start to minimize misinterpreting something such that I don’t wind up doing an inappropriate or disproportionate response…Dialogue among all space faring nations goes a long way.'”

        From: ‘STRATCOM’s No. 2 says clear space norms could help with North Korea’ By Phillip Swarts March 24, 2017
        At: http://spacenews.com/stratcoms-no-2-says-space-norms-could-help-contain-north-korea-says-u-s-stratcoms-no-2-says-clear-space-norms-could-help-with-north-korea/#sthash.CDFSpaZj.dpuf

      • sort of agree on something Nyet

        “…mines and any orbiting depots would be operated telerobotically from Earth” Initially, yes

        Initially?? So, by implication, the operation & maintenance of your Lunar ice mines and fuel depots would regress with time using less automation and more expensive humans?

        Moon…space station hotel in a stable low Lunar polar orbit that would imply some wasteful plane change maneuvers, unless you assume polar launches out of Vandenberg for your tourists. And the notion of using a low Lunar orbit to block GCRs seems odd, considering you and your pal Gary Church relentlessly harp on using huge amounts of Lunar water for GCR shielding as justification for Lunar mines.

        Sightseeing from low Lunar orbit would be frustrating because of the limited field of view. Still, watching something that resembles portland cement dumped on a slag heap, flashing by the window at 2400 miles per hour, would be a unique experience.

        • James

          “Moon…space station hotel in a stable low Lunar polar orbit that would imply some wasteful plane change maneuvers, unless you assume polar launches out of Vandenberg for your tourists.” -SE Jones

          Maybe getting into a Lunar polar orbit isn’t really a big issue.

          And when propellant is available from the Moon it would become a very minor issue.

          “Could the CSM and Saturn V get that “CSM-and-LM stack” into a

          lunar polar orbit?

          Yes. To a first approximation, the spacecraft dawdles out to lunar distance, and the Moon comes up and almost-hits-it from behind, and simply selecting the exact position where this happens chooses the orbitalinclination — there is no extra cost for a polar orbit.”

          From: Henry Spencer henry@zoo.toronto.edu
          Subject: Re: Apollo polar orbit question
          Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997
          At: http://yarchive.net/space/orbits/lunar_orbit.html

          “Henry Spencer (born 1955) is a Canadian computer programmer and space enthusiast. He wrote “regex”, a widely used software library for regular expressions, and co-wrote C News, a Usenet server program. He also wrote The Ten Commandments for C Programmers.[1] He is coauthor, with David Lawrence, of the book Managing Usenet.[2] While working at the University of Toronto he ran the first active Usenet site outside the U.S., starting in 1981.”

          From: ‘Henry Spencer’ Wikipedia
          At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Spencer

        • James

          ‘Initially, yes.’

          “The type of polar lunar outpost being considered in the NASA Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) can effectively support the development of technologies that will not only significantly enhance lunar exploration, but also enable long term crewed space missions, including space settlement.”

          And, “The critical technologies are: artificial gravity, radiation protection, Closed Ecological Life Support Systems (CELSS) and In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU). These enhance lunar exploration by extending the time an astronaut can remain on the moon and reducing the need for supplies from Earth, and they seem required for space settlement.”

          And, “A polar lunar outpost provides a location to perform the research and testing required to develop these technologies, as well as to determine if there are viable countermeasures that can reduce the need for Earth-surface-equivalent gravity and radiation protection on long human space missions.”

          And, “The types of spinning space vehicles or stations envisioned to provide artificial gravity can be implemented and tested on the lunar surface, where they can create any level of effective gravity above the ~1/6 Earth gravity that naturally exists on the lunar surface. Likewise, varying degrees of radiation protection can provide a natural radiation environment on the lunar surface less than or equal to ~1/2 that of open space at 1 AU.”

          And, “Lunar ISRU has the potential of providing most of the material needed for radiation protection, the centrifuge that provides artificial gravity; and the atmosphere, water and soil for a CELSS. Lunar ISRU both saves the cost of transporting these materials from Earth and helps define the requirements for ISRU on other planetary bodies.”

          And, “The proven knowledge of how to build such a lunar habitat can then be applied to various approaches for space settlement.”

          From: ‘Use of a Lunar Outpost for Developing Space Settlement Technologies’
          By Lloyd R. Purves, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
          At: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20080041557.pdf

          Start with the robots doing water and propellant production. Then add astronauts and eventually tourists to the Lunar surface base.

          • “The types of spinning space vehicles or stations envisioned to provide artificial gravity can be implemented and tested on the lunar surface

            That isn’t just regular old ridiculous, that’s insanely stupidity-on-stilts ridiculous. Why would any entity spend $ trillions of dollars to emplace a centrifuge on the Moon, when we could put the Marshal xGRF in LEO by a single Falcon-H, in a few years for just a few 10s of $ millions?

            Here’s a link to xGRF
            http://www.artificial-gravity.com/JANNAF-2005-Sorensen.pdf

            • James

              “Why would any entity spend $ trillions of dollars to emplace a centrifuge on the Moon, when we could put the Marshal xGRF in LEO” -SE Jones

              It will not cost trillions of dollars. Humans and robots are going to be on the Moon for many reasons, including research and tourism.

              Eventually, artificial gravity generated by a sleeper train running on tracks in about a 1.6 kilometer diameter circle tunnel on the Moon could be built mainly by robots using Lunar materials and would allow zero radiation exposure artificial gravity and, if need be, such a ‘sleeper train system’ enables quite long and risk minimized human missions on the Moon for large numbers of people.

              Note: “Even if you couldn’t close the life-support loop, just not having to return the initial explorers right away could allow you really enhance robotic exploration of the Moon by having people there on the spot to help troubleshoot, fix, upgrade, iterate, etc on your robotic systems. I know a lot of people think we can just send robots and have them make a turn-key base. It’s possible, but I expect you’re going to break a lot of robots along the way, and you could avoid that by having people in the loop.”

              From: ‘Variable Gravity Research Facility (xGRF)’ By Jonathan Goff November 5, 2010 by Jonathan Goff Selenian Boondocks
              At: http://selenianboondocks.com/2010/11/variable-gravity-research-facility-xgrf/

              Nonetheless, for useful and needed near-term artificial gravity experiments build and use the xGRF.

        • James

          ‘Moon…space station hotel in a stable low Lunar polar orbit that would imply some wasteful plane change maneuvers, unless you assume polar launches out of Vandenberg for your tourists.’ -SE Jones

          “The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is a NASA robotic spacecraft currently orbiting the Moon in an eccentric polar mapping orbit.”

          And, “After completing a preliminary design review in February 2006 and a critical design review in November 2006,[20] the LRO was shipped from Goddard to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on February 11, 2009.”

          And, “Launch was rescheduled for June 17, 2009, because of the delay in a priority military launch,[23] and happened one day later, on June 18. The one-day delay was to allow the Space Shuttle Endeavour a chance to lift off for mission STS-127 following a hydrogen fuel leak that canceled an earlier planned launch.”

          From: ‘Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’ Wikipedia
          At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Reconnaissance_Orbiter

          Maybe getting into a Lunar polar orbit isn’t really a big issue.

          And if propellant is available in a Lunar polar orbit from the Moon, it would become a minor issue.

          Could the Saturn V have placed the Apollo spacecraft and Lander into a Lunar polar orbit?

          See:
          Henry Spencer
          Subject: Re: Apollo polar orbit question
          Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997
          At: http://yarchive.net/space/orbits/lunar_orbit.html

          • And if propellant is available in a Lunar polar orbit from the Moon, it would become a minor issue

            So if you assume oodles of cheap ISRU Lunar propellant, why would you worry about putting Lunar space station hotels in a stable low Lunar orbit anyway? The ∆V for orbit adjustment in higher equatorial orbits would be minor compared to the tons of propellant burned for inbound & outbound traffic ships full of rich passengers.

            • James

              “why would you worry about putting Lunar space station hotels in a stable low Lunar orbit anyway?” -SE Jones

              Why did the Apollo spacecraft go into low Lunar orbit? In part to be able to make a quick rescue attempt for the LM crew if such was needed.

              The water ice and other volatiles are in the polar regions.

              The hotel in a stable low Lunar polar orbit is, among other things, an emergency backup hab with a rescue capable spaceship if human missions get into trouble launching from polar regions. And if folks need to wait at the hotel for a few weeks or even months until a spaceship headed towards Earth is available, a hab shielded from Galactic Cosmic Radiation is needed.

              Included in the hotel complex could be storage tanks for various types of propellant that was made from Lunar mined material and eventually, a spacecraft repair shop.

              Note also:

              “According to the current NASA administrator, ‘We hope to enlist international partners, to bring some of the elements that we won’t be able to afford to build. We don’t have big habitats, laboratories, power stations, things like that for a lunar base. We don’t have them in our budget. We have got transportation ‘to and from’ in our budget.'”

              From: ‘Use of a Lunar Outpost for Developing Space Settlement Technologies’
              By Lloyd R. Purves, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
              At: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20080041557.pdf

              To be successful on the Moon and in accelerating the development of the rest of Cislunar Space, we need to build as broad an international Lunar resource tapping and industrialization coalition as possible.

              Without the broad scientific, engineering, political, business, and cultural support of the Home Planet, the odds of failure and a second long retreat from the Moon’s resources increase.

              And if we humans cannot make good use of the nearby Moon and its many resources and industrialization opportunities, there really isn’t going to be much deep Home Planet support for colonies on Ceres, Phobos, Mars, and elsewhere across our Solar System.

  • James

    “Sightseeing from low Lunar orbit would be frustrating”

    I’ve stayed in a good number of hotels and can really only recall one time spending a lot of time looking out the window and that was because there was a beautiful full Moon hanging in the dark sky.

    In any case, hotels are often near transportation hubs and the Moon, and its stable low Lunar orbits, could end up being one of the transportation hubs of the Solar System.

    Forget the windows. Windows add radiation risk. Why?

    Here’s why:

    “In a cislunar or lunar orbit, far outside the magnetosphere, a crew is constantly exposed to the same flux of interplanetary solar and cosmic radiation that a crew would be exposed to on a trip to Mars. There have been many claims that such trips are impossible due to the radiation hazard. A cislunar base crew would be exposed to this hazard indefinitely, not just for eight months at a time. Without good radiation protection, a crewmember would rapidly accumulate a lifetime radiation dose and be forced to retire.”

    And, “Yet there is no mention of any additional mass for radiation protection at such a base. A minimum mass of protection against both cosmic and radiation might be about 150 tons of water, which would provide a 50-centimeter water blanket around one crew module. However, while this provides adequate protection from solar radiation and storms, it only reduces the cosmic radiation flux by no more than 25 percent. For a permanent ci-lunar base that needs little or no station keeping, a layer of at least three to four meters of water or equivalent fully surrounding the crew would be needed.”

    From: ‘The cislunar gateway with no gate, revisited’ By John K. Strickland March 20, 2017
    At: http://thespacereview.com/article/3200/1

    Perhaps a layer of 15 to 30 centimeters of Lunar iron combined with a two to three meter layer of Lunar water near the habitat could also work as effective Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding for the Lunar polar orbit hotel.

    Obviously, many Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding combinations of various Lunar materials need to be carefully considered and researched.

    • Forget the windows. Windows add radiation risk. Why?

      Oh, that makes perfect sense; Lunar hotel passengers are going to spend a (literal) fortune to float around while looking at TV screens. May as well save $ millions and go to Daytona Beach instead.

      Perhaps a layer of 15 to 30 centimeters of Lunar iron combined with a two to three meter layer of Lunar water near the habitat could also work as effective Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding for the Lunar polar orbit hotel.Obviously, many Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding combinations of various Lunar materials need to be carefully considered and researched DONE, in the 1940s & 1950s

      Lunar iron ONE MORE TIME: iron is the last thing you’d want to use for Galactic Cosmic Ray (GCR) shielding. GCRs are relativistic ions, ions are moderated by the electronic stopping function of the electron clouds in the shield material, so you want hydrogen (or the oxide of hydrogen) which offers a low probability of CGR ions hitting a nucleus, thus causing showers of secondaries (“shrapnel” in the vernacular).

      Perhaps you should spend less time skimming other people’s papers looking for material to take out of context, and more time actually reading those papers and trying to comprehend them.

      • James

        “Concrete
        – Used for both photon and neutron shield, relative low cost, easy to cast to different shapes, good structural properties, modular and moveable
        • Portland concrete, density in the range of 2.3-2.4 g cm-3
        – Heavy materials can be added in the concrete aggregate,
        barites or iron ore, to increase its density and average Z,
        density of heavy concrete can exceed 4.5 g cm”

        “Shielding Materials
        • Iron– Density ~ 7.0 g cm-3; steel density is typically around 7.9 g cm-3
        – Steel, in conjunction with hydrogenous materials such as concrete, is used for shielding of high-energy neutrons (several tens of MeV)”

        From: Pages 56 and 57 of ‘Radiation Shielding at High-Energy Electron and Proton Accelerators’
        By Sayed H. Rokni and James C. Liu Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)
        and J. Donald Cossairt
        Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL)
        At: http://hpschapters.org/sections/accelerator/PDS/6Shield_Rokni.pdf

        “Graded-Z shielding is a laminate of several materials with different Z values (atomic numbers) designed to protect against ionizing radiation. Compared to single-material shielding, the same mass of graded-Z shielding has been shown to reduce electron penetration over 60%.[8] It is commonly used in satellite-based particle detectors, offering several benefits:

        protection from radiation damage
        reduction of background noise for detectors
        lower mass compared to single-material shielding

        Designs vary, but typically involve a gradient from high-Z (usually tantalum) through successively lower-Z elements such as tin, steel, and copper, usually ending with aluminium. Sometimes even lighter materials such as polypropylene or boron carbide are used. [9][10]”

        From: ‘Radiation protection’ Wikipedia
        At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_protection

      • James

        “CR secondary particle shower species, especially neutrons, dominate effects on electronic systems and human health at high shielding mass”

        From: ‘Practical Applications of Cosmic Ray Science: Spacecraft, Aircraft, Ground Based Computation and Control Systems and Human Health and Safety’
        By Steve Koontz – NASA, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Spring 2015

        And, since neutrons produced in the thick GCR shield and spaceship, are the most essential risk issue for astronaut health, it is worth noting:

        “For a given thickness, iron outperforms lead by a factor of 5 and hydrogenous materials on average by a factor of 20, making it the shielding material of choice for neutrons above 20 MeV.”
        From: Page 76 of ‘Cosmic Ray Interactions in Shielding Materials PNNL-20693 Prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract DE-AC05-76RL01830’ By E Aguayo, RT Kouzes, AS Ankney, JL Orrell, TJ Berguson, and MD Troy July 2011
        At: http://www.pnnl.gov/main/publications/external/technical_reports/PNNL-20693.pdf

        • “This document provides a detailed study of materials used to shield against the hadronic particles
          from cosmic ray showers at Earth’s surface

          iron…shielding material of choice for neutrons above 20 MeV

          How can you not understand that this paper is about shielding a sensitive neutrino detector AT THE SURFACE OF THE EARTH!

          • iron…shielding material of choice for neutrons above 20 MeV [hit return too soon]

            Neutrons aren’t flying at us from the great beyond (for one thing, naked neutrons decay in ~10 minutes) so neutron radiation is from radioactive decay or secondaries from GCR air showers. This PNNL-20693 paper you are so in love with, is about shielding an exotic neutrino detector from its place of manufacture to the location of the underground experiment ON EARTH.

            Perhaps you are confused by the terminology; “cosmic ray” is a generic term for any ionizing radiation coming from space. When cosmic rays were discovered, it was unknown what they were and where they came from. As more was learned, the English language wasn’t able to keep up. This often happens in science, we must infer meanings from the context.

      • James

        Effective protection from high energy and high mass Galactic Cosmic Rays traveling at significant fractions of the speed of light remains a critical issue for humans doing long missions on space stations and in spaceships.

        To better understand the relevant issue of how density can affect shielding mass, we should mathematically compare water, aluminum, and iron Galactic Cosmic Radiation shields that offer comparable densities of shielding per surface area for the interior of the habitat.

        Volume of a sphere = 4/3 x 3.1415 x r x r x r Where r = radius

        Assume a spacecraft with a 6 meter diameter spherical habitat that will be shielded by adding a layer of H2O or Al or Fe to provide an effective shielding mass of about 1000 grams per square centimeter of area.

        The volume enclosed by such a spherical habitat is:

        V = 4/3 x 3.1415 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 113 cubic meters Volume with 3 = radius of the habitat in meters

        If we use a 10 meter layer of water shielding (with a mass of 1,000 kg/m3) around that 6 meter diameter spherical habitat with a 113 cubic meter volume, we get a volume of the shielding material of:

        V = (4/3 x 3.1415 x 13 x 13 x 13) – 113 = 9,202 – 113 = 9,089 cubic meters of H2O weighing about 9,089 tones or 9,089,000 kilograms of mass.

        If we use Al (aluminum) (with a mass of 2,700 kg/m3) for a layer about 3.704 meter thick of shielding, the Al shielding volume will be:

        V = (4/3 x 3.1415 x 6.704 x 6.704 x 6.704 x 6.704) – 113 = 1,262 – 113 = 1149 cubic meters of Al weighing about 3,102 tones or 3,102,000 kilograms of mass.

        If we use Fe (iron) (with a mass of 7,840 kg/m3) for a layer about 1.27 meters thick of Fe of shielding, the Fe shielding volume will be:

        V = (4/3 x 3.1415 x 4.27 x 4.27 x 4.27) – 113 = 326 – 113 = 213 cu meters of Fe weighing about 1,670 tones or 1,670,000 kilograms of mass. The iron shield is clearly the lowest mass shield.

        Obviously, it is raising the radius to the third power in the volume of a sphere equation that causes the dramatic rise in the volume and thus also mass that occurs with the layers of the not so dense GCR shielding materials.

        A not so dense material such as H2O, or aluminum, must be much better at shielding on a mass per square centimeter basis in order for it to overcome its obvious problem of not being as dense as the iron that is actually a useful high-energy neutron shielding material which is a good characteristic for the iron because “secondary particle shower species, especially neutrons, dominate effects on electronic systems and human health at high shielding mass”.

        Anyone who wishes to point out math or some other errors in any of the above is welcome to do so.

        From John K. Strickland’s March 20, 2017 quote that I noted above, “For a permanent ci-lunar base that needs little or no station keeping, a layer of at least three to four meters of water or equivalent fully surrounding the crew would be needed.”

        Perhaps an outer layer of 15 to 30 centimeters of Lunar iron combined with a two to three meter inner layer of Lunar water near the habitat could also work as effective Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding for the Lunar polar orbit hotel.

  • This jumbled pile of non-attributed quotes, is a hypothetical, rough calculation, working backward at what it would take to get to ~ Earth surface level radiation, inside a spacecraft or habitat assuming money/mass is no object But in spaceflight, money/mass is always THE object.
    On the surface of the Moon or Mars, mass isn’t that much of an issue, you just pile dirt on until the showers are absorbed. In space, mass is critical, so you calculate what dosage the crew can live with, then you add a reasonable amount of hydrogen-rich shielding to arrive at that dose. You’d never ever add a layer of iron for Christ’s sake, the secondary showers would make the incident GCR dose worse

    Evidently, you will never get this so I give up.

    • James

      “On the surface of the Moon” “you just pile dirt on until the showers are absorbed”

      Yep. And what is in that Lunar dirt? Iron. In the Lunar lowlands the dirt may contain about 12% or more iron.

      “2.2.3.4 Iron

      Iron is most abundant in lowland minerals, and fairly easy to extract, e.g., from ilmenite (above, same as for titanium).

      Small quantities of free iron also exist. In the above section, I stated that the main industrial metals don’t exist in free form in planetary crusts. However, free iron metal is abundant in asteroids, and asteroids have impacted the Moon and spread their vaporized material far and wide. With the lack of water and air on the Moon, this metal has not rusted into iron oxide. Small grains of free iron exist in lunar soil.

      Free iron averages about half of one percent of average lunar soil. The grain sizes are generally less than a few tenths of a millimeter.

      (For the curious, there is also a trace of free iron from solar wind hydrogen atoms stealing the oxygen from iron oxide. This kind of free iron is microscopic.)

      The free iron metal is extractable by simple magnets after grinding. This produces a supply of iron powder.

      This powder can be easily handled to make parts using a standard technique on Earth called ‘powder metallurgy’. On Earth, the metal handled this way was must be powderized, whereas on the Moon and with many asteroids it’s already powder.”

      And, “The main minerals on the Moon are “plagioclase” minerals (aluminum silicates of which anorthite — calcium aluminum silicate — is the most common plagioclase mineral), “olivine” (predominantly magnesium and iron silicates — Mg2SiO4 and Fe2SiO4), ilmenite (discussed above, FeTiO3), and pyroxenes (MgSiO3, CaSiO3, FeSiO3). However, there are many other minerals and glasses mixed in.”

      From: ‘Major Lunar Minerals’
      At: http://www.permanent.com/lunar-geology-minerals.html

      See also:

      Composition of Lunar Soil
      At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_soil#/media/File:Composition_of_lunar_soil.svg

      Is anyone seriously proposing to remove that iron prior to making use of 5 to 6 meters of Lunar dirt as Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding material for habitats and other buildings on the Moon?

      If that Lunar iron is not going to be removed, then the issue of Lunar iron in Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding material is going to be an important research topic.

      And for well-shielded spacecraft you add effective types of shielding material for the given radiation components in the GCR produced shower within the thick shield.

      For thick shields, like the thick shield of a well-shielded spacecraft, stopping neutrons inside the shield is quite important.

      Iron is particularly well-suited to stopping GCR produced neutrons in the shield because of its density and other properties.

    • James

      Iron is found in the the Lunar regolith that many folks want to use for effective Galactic Cosmic Radiation Shielding.

      For space stations in Lunar orbit, spacecraft carrying humans on long Deep Space missions, and large vehicles and mobile surface habitats on the surfaces of the Moon, Mars, Ceres, and most of the spheres in our Solar System the mass and effectiveness of the GCR shielding will remain a critical issue.

      One of the important issues with high mass GCR shielding in “Heavily shielded manned spacecraft” is GCR produced neutron showers generated within the shield.

      “CR secondary particle shower species, especially neutrons, dominate effects on electronic systems and human health at high shielding mass
      –Earth surface operating environments
      –High altitude aircraft operating environments
      –Heavily shielded manned spacecraft
      –In massive targets, like the human body, secondary particle showers can contribute on the order of 50% of the total body dose expressed in Sv”

      And, “Slow accumulation of whole body dose (expressed in Sv) from GCR presently limits the duration of manned space operations outside earth’s magnetosphere to times on the order of 180 days. The overall programmatic cost of the available active or passive shielding needed to extend that limit is prohibitive at this time”

      From: ‘Practical Applications of Cosmic Ray Science: Spacecraft, Aircraft, Ground Based Computation and Control Systems and Human Health and Safety’ Page 30
      By Steve Koontz – NASA, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas Spring 2015
      At: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20140011445.pdf

      “For a given thickness, iron outperforms lead by a factor of 5 and hydrogenous materials on average by a factor of 20, making it the shielding material of choice for neutrons above 20 MeV.”

      From: Page 76 of ‘Cosmic Ray Interactions in Shielding Materials PNNL-20693 Prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract DE-AC05-76RL01830’ By E Aguayo, RT Kouzes, AS Ankney, JL Orrell, TJ Berguson, and MD Troy July 2011
      At: http://www.pnnl.gov/main/publications/external/technical_reports/PNNL-20693.pdf

      Since Lunar iron is found in the Lunar regolith that many folks plan on using for shielding habitats, and since iron could be a useful dense shielding material against GCR produced dangerous neutrons in “Heavily shielded manned spacecraft”, iron should be researched as part of developing an effective thick and high mass GCR shield that must be able to stop GCR generated neutrons within the shield which would “dominate effects on electronic systems and human health at high shielding mass” if we are not able to stop those neutrons inside the thick shield.

  • James

    “During a signing ceremony last week for the NASA Transition Authorization Act, Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, told the President that just as President Eisenhower is remembered for creating the interstate highway system, he (Trump) would be remembered for creating an interplanetary highway system. Trump’s response was ‘Well that sounds exciting. First we want to fix our highways. We have to fix our highways.'”

    From: ‘NASA Continues Journey to Mars Planning’ Marcia S. Smith 3/28/2017
    At: http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/nasa-continues-journey-to-mars-planning

    Fixing highways probably is a much higher and wiser priority than planning foolish, nonscientific, and long high risk missions in Galactic Cosmic Radiation filled Deep Space to the Red Planet.

    “For a permanent ci-lunar base that needs little or no station keeping, a layer of at least three to four meters of water or equivalent fully surrounding the crew would be needed.”

    From: ‘The cislunar gateway with no gate, revisited’ By John K. Strickland March 20, 2017
    At: http://thespacereview.com/article/3200/1

    At one time, the health of astronauts was considered important. Now we want cheap Deep Space missions without the costs of proper Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding.

    Today, risky missions in Galactic Cosmic Radiation filled space environments are considered to be useful experiments in using astronauts as a substitute for lab rats.

    The once mighty NASA has now fallen far into the dark political pit of ignoring both science and the health of astronauts in a crazy ‘planning for Mars Soon’ mission to nowhere…