Pad 39A, America's Moonport, Celebrates Over 100 Launches in 50 Years of Service

The launch of Apollo 11 on 16 July 1969 was arguably Pad 39A’s finest hour. Photo Credit: NASA

In a strange twist of irony, Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida was not originally meant to be named “39A” at all. Having supported its first launch, 50 years ago, last week, the iconic pad—which saw the first teams of human explorers leave Planet Earth, bound for the Moon, together with America’s first space station and dozens of Space Shuttle missions—occupies a roughly octagonal footprint on the marshy landscape of Florida’s Merritt Island. More than a half-century ago, blueprints called for the construction of up to five launch pads, potentially labeled 39A through 39E, which might have run sequentially from north to south. As circumstances transpired and planning changed, only two pads were brought to operational service. The original 39A complex was never built and in 1963 the site which would have been 39C was renamed the “new” 39A. Today, after recently seeing off the 106th launch in its illustrious history, for Pad 39A an exciting future lies ahead.

Originally developed in the late 19th century, and later used for the testing of captured German V-2 missiles, the site formally entered the NASA consciousness in 1962, when 131 square miles (340 square kilometers) of sand and scrub, as well as 87 square miles (230 square kilometers) of submerged land, were purchased or negotiated at a total cost of $71.8 million. Launch Complex (LC)-39 was intended as part of a vast infrastructure, which included the Launch Control Center (LCC) and Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), in support of America’s goal to land a man on the Moon before 1970. A 3.5-mile-long (5-kilometer) “crawlerway” of imported Mississippi river-gravels extended from the VAB to the two primary pads, which were located 8,700 feet (2,650 meters) apart, so that a launch disaster would not risk wrecking the other.

The first flight-ready Saturn V, with Apollo 4 at its tip, rolls out to Pad 39A on 26 August 1967. Photo Credit: NASA

On 25 May 1966, Pad 39A received its first major client, when a full-scale mockup of the 363-foot-tall (110.6-meter) Saturn V—dubbed “500F”—was rolled from the VAB to the launch site for several months of fit-checks and propellant-transfer evaluations. It was removed from the pad in mid-October, with an expectation that the first flight-ready Saturn V would launch in the first half of 1967. However, the deaths of Apollo 1 astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee on 27 January forced a lengthy period of downtime and it was not until 9 November 1967 that Apollo-Saturn-501 (AS-501), bearing the unmanned Apollo 4 Command and Service Module (CSM), finally took flight. The nine-hour mission was a remarkable success, demonstrating that the Apollo spacecraft could function in the radiation and thermal extremes of deep space and validating the Saturn V as the machine which would deliver humans to the Moon.

In its first launch, Pad 39A had set its own bar of excellence extremely high. Apollo 4 was the first of 106 missions to date which have vaulted skywards from this patch of Florida. On 4 April 1968, another Saturn V carried the unmanned Apollo 6 spacecraft into orbit. Although the rocket suffered severe pogo-like oscillations during ascent, corrective actions over the following months led to astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders becoming the first humans to launch from Pad 39A on 21 December 1968. They flew Apollo 8 on a six-day voyage, around the Moon, becoming the first men to travel to lunar distance.

Video Credit: NASA

Over the next four years, a further nine Saturn Vs launched from Pad 39A. In March 1969, Apollo 9 astronauts Jim McDivitt, Dave Scott and Rusty Schweickart tested the entire Apollo spacecraft—command, service and lunar modules—in low-Earth orbit for the first time, but the pad’s most historic launch of all came on 16 July, when Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin began their voyage to the Moon and to Tranquility Base. All but one of the Moon-bound Apollo missions launched from Pad 39A, although not entirely without incident. Apollo 12, which rose into thundery skies in November 1969, saw the Saturn V twice hit by lightning, whilst unlucky Apollo 13 in April 1970 endured a premature shutdown of one of the rocket’s J-2 engines during second-stage flight. The final four lunar-bound flights in January and July 1971 and April and December 1972 were charmed by comparison, with Apollo 17 marking Pad 39A’s first launch in the hours of darkness. Five months later, on 14 May 1973, a Saturn V with a distinctly different look rose from the pad. It bore the lower two stages, and much of the muscle, of its predecessors, but in place of its S-IVB third stage was America’s first space station, Skylab.

With 12 missions under its belt, Pad 39A had by this stage cemented its credentials as much more than a launch complex, but a historic landmark for the human race. By the end of its first era of operations, the pad had launched 23 astronauts—four of them on as many as two occasions—and it was stood down for modification, ahead of the dawn of the Space Shuttle program. A new Fixed Service Structure (FSS) was erected and a Rotating Service Structure (RSS) were installed and much of the old Saturn V architecture was removed. On 12 April 1981, Pad 39A reverberated to the roar of three Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) and two Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs), as Columbia transported John Young and Bob Crippen into orbit on the first mission of a new age.

After a hiatus of almost eight years, Pad 39A returned to operational status with the launch of Columbia on 12 April 1981. Photo Credit: NASA

It was the start of no less than 82 shuttle launches from Pad 39A. Over the next 30 years, the old complex supported some of the most pivotal missions in NASA history. All but one of orbiter Challenger’s flights originated from the pad, whilst every orbiter except Endeavour made its maiden launch from Pad 39A. Key events included the first flight of the European-built Spacelab research facility in November 1983, the first flight of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) in February 1984 and the largest single crew of astronauts ever launched in October 1985. The first shuttle-Mir docking mission, the first flight to assemble the International Space Station (ISS) and the first piloted space voyage of the 21st century all originated from Pad 39A. Dovetailed into this list have been the human records: the first U.S. woman in space, the first African-American man in space, the first non-U.S. citizen to launch into space from U.S. soil, as well as the first national representatives of Canada, Holland, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Belgium and Israel.

All told, from the launch of Borman, Lovell and Anders in December 1968 to the launch of Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim aboard shuttle Atlantis’ STS-135 swansong in July 2011, several hundred spacefarers have flown from Pad 39A, including U.S. astronauts Jim Halsell and Bonnie Dunbar, who both rocketed away from the historic complex on no fewer than five occasions apiece.

Liftoff of SES-10 on the first reused SpaceX Falcon 9 booster in March 2017. Photo Credit: John Kraus / AmericaSpace

By the end of the shuttle era, Pad 39A had notched its total number of launches up to 94, which included the tragic final mission of Columbia on STS-107. In April 2014, the complex—which had, by this point, been added as a Site on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)—was transferred to SpaceX on a 20-year lease. Following significant modification to the shuttle-era infrastructure, including the dismantling of the RSS and the assembly of a horizontal integration facility, the first SpaceX mission launched on 19 February 2017, delivering an unmanned Dragon cargo ship to the ISS.

All told, and including last month’s KoreaSat-5A, a total of 12 Upgraded Falcon 9 boosters have launched payloads into space in 2017. Records have included the first flight of a reused first-stage booster core and the first flight of a reused Dragon cargo ship. With the imminent return of Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 to operational service, Pad 39A’s focus will shift in the coming weeks and months to Falcon Heavy operations and in 2018 to the first flights of the Commercial Crew Program (CCP), with astronauts once again returning to space aboard U.S. vehicles, and from U.S. soil.

“Complex 39 was to Moon exploration was Palos was to Columbus: the liftoff point,” the late Rocco Petrone, former director of launch operations at KSC during the height of the Apollo lunar landing effort, once remarked. “Man had never attempted any such thing before, and I wonder if he will again.” A resumption of manned lunar landings may not yet be on the horizon, but for Pad 39A the future seems a bright one.

 

 

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50 comments to Pad 39A, America’s Moonport, Celebrates Over 100 Launches in 50 Years of Service

  • James

    “Dovetailed into this list have been the human records: the first U.S. woman in space, the first African-American man in space, the first non-U.S. citizen to launch into space from U.S. soil, as well as the first national representatives of Canada, Holland, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Belgium and Israel.” – Ben Evans

    “A resumption of manned lunar landings may not yet be on the horizon, but for Pad 39A the future seems a bright one.” – Ben Evans

    One of the main reasons “A resumption of” human “lunar landings may not yet be on the horizon” is that highly partisan politics and taking good care of one’s rich political friends seem to be much more important to our national leaders than a logical and inspirational national and international space program of exploring and tapping Lunar resources in preparation for mining asteroids and useful and economic growth encouraging missions in Cislunar Space and across our Solar System.

    “Aside from the physical, tangible and future benefits – the rational side of the space sector, there is also something emotional and inspiring about space exploration. The overwhelming opportunity that it can bring and the fact that we still do not know that much about what could be out there – presents fascinating adventures and incredible curiosity.”

    From: ‘Opinion: Human Space Travel Is Critical For The Future Of Humanity’
    By H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of UAE Space Agency 11/11/2017
    At: http://aviationweek.com/dubai-air-show-2017/opinion-human-space-travel-critical-future-humanity

    • James

      Why are we Americans sliding downhill instead of heading uphill to tap Lunar resources and business opportunities?

      “‘If you look at the economy of the bottom 60 percent, it is a miserable economy. Not only hasn’t it had growth and economic movement and so on, it has the highest rising death rates, it is the only place in the world where death rates are rising because of a combination of opiates, other drugs and suicides,’ Dalio says.”

      And, “‘The top one tenth of 1 percent of the population has a net worth that is equal to the bottom 90 percent combined,’ according to Dalio, who also wrote about his calculations in a LinkedIn post.

      “‘If you go to 1982, when Forbes put on their first 400 list, those people had [a total of] $93 billion. They now have $2.4 trillion, [a multiple of] 25 for one,’ Buffett said on PBS Newshour in June. ‘This has been a prosperity that’s been disproportionately rewarding to the people on top.'”

      From: “Billionaire Ray Dalio: There are 2 realities in this country—for the bottom 60 percent it’s a ‘miserable economy’” By Catherine Clifford 7 11/7/2017
      At: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/07/billionaire-ray-dalio-for-many-in-the-us-its-a-miserable-economy.html?recirc=taboolainternal

      Unlike the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 1990s our problems and petty politics on Earth have limited our partisan politicians’ ability to focus on a logical and useful national and international space program that could create hope and jobs for Americans and folks across the Home Planet.

      Renting out “a Site on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places” known as “Pad 39A, America’s Moonport” that is needed for dual SLS Lunar mission launches and Launch on Need SLS rescue mission options shows the corruption of our national political leadership that is now obviously owned by “The top one tenth of 1 percent of the population has a net worth that is equal to the bottom 90 percent combined.”

      Instead of NASA led international missions to the Moon being a clear inspiration and job creating business reality for Americans and the world, our corrupt and sold out national political leadership is apparently now using NASA and our national space program as simply tools to funnel more money and national assets to their super rich crony capitalist ‘friends’.

      With our corrupt and highly partisan national leadership, NASA will find it increasingly difficult to access scarce taxpayer money to provide national and international space program inspiration and encourage high technology economic growth for the generations to come.

      • TomPerkins

        ” Why are we Americans sliding downhill instead of heading uphill to tap Lunar resources and business opportunities? ” <– Because the cost of access to space is dropping dramatically in the US, we definitionally are not.

        • john hare

          I don’t think he is willing to think rationally on this subject. 39A is getting used effectively by a company he despises and his alternative is slipping to the right. From previous discussions, I think he would rather the pad rust to the ground rather than see actual use by his chosen enemy.

          • James

            Wrong John Hare.

            Pad 39A should be used for dual launch SLS Lunar missions and not rented out cheap to a political friend of an anti-Moon former President as part of providing endless taxpayer subsidies and having valuable national assets turned over for a private Mars Fantasy Colonies Soon scam that primarily serves to further enrich the King of government subsidies and his rich and politically super well connected insider investors.

            There is no business or international political case for extremely high risk and super costly Mars Fantasy Colonies Soon supported by weak, slow, and low Isp chemical rocket engine powered spaceships.

            “What should a future spacecraft engine be able to do? Certainly, one major goal would be for it to allow spacecraft to travel through the solar system more quickly than they can now. While a lot of things have changed in over 40 years, today’s spacecraft are still traveling at about the same speed that John Glenn did when he became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. One possible way to change that would be the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR). Test of the VASIMR engine.

            And, “Not only would VASIMR allow for faster space travel, it would have some pretty incredible side benefits, as well. For example, NASA researchers believe that VASIMR would be able to travel to Mars much more quickly than a contemporary chemical-powered rocket, and then, once there, to refuel on Mars for the return flight to Earth. The VASIMR engine could also even help protect astronauts from the dangerous effects of radiation during their trip.”

            And, “The use of hydrogen as the fuel for the VASIMR project has many side benefits, according to researcher Franklin Chang-Diaz. In addition to being the director of the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory, Chang-Diaz is an astronaut who has flown into space on seven missions, more than any other NASA astronaut. ‘We’re likely to find hydrogen pretty much anywhere we go in the solar system,’ he said. What this means is that a VASIMR-powered spacecraft could be launched with only enough fuel to get to its destination, such as Mars, and then pick up more hydrogen upon arrival to serve as fuel for the return trip home.”

            And, “For long-range flights, Chang-Diaz said, the best option is nuclear power. ‘Nuclear power is definitely a must if we’re going to go to Mars,’ he said. This means that VASIMR could be integrated with NASA’s recently announced Project Prometheus proposal to develop nuclear power generators for spaceflight.”

            From: ‘Traveling in Space Features’ 06/14/03
            At: https://www.nasa.gov/vision/space/travelinginspace/future_propulsion.html

            “Musk is also skeptical that the VASIMR engine would be a significant improvement over chemical rockets, stating: ‘So people like Franklin – basically it’s a very interesting ion engine he’s got there, but it requires a big nuclear reactor. The ion engine is going to help a little bit, but not a lot in the absence of a big nuclear reactor.'”

            And, “Chang Diaz, however, says in his paper: ‘Assuming advanced technologies [emphasis added] that reduce the total specific mass to less than 2 kg/kW, trip times of less than 60 days will be possible with 200 MW of electrical power. One-way trips to Mars lasting less than 39 days are even conceivable using 200 MW of power if technological advances allow the specific mass to be reduced to near or below 1 kg/kW.'”

            And, “The 2011 NASA research paper Multi-MW Closed Cycle MHD Nuclear Space Power Via Nonequilibrium He/Xe Working Plasma’ by Ron J. Litchford and Nobuhiro Harada, indicates that such developments are feasible in the near future.”

            From: ‘VASIMR plasma engine: Earth to Mars in 39 days?’ By Collin Skocik 7/19/2017
            At: http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/conferences/humans-to-mars/vasimr-plasma-engine-earth-mars-39-days/#8cp1tmQIp2e0wrES.99

            Using Lunar resources to reduce the risks and costs of spaceflight and to accelerate and greatly expand the ongoing development of Cislunar Space makes logical business sense and should create many high technology jobs.

            Using Lunar uranium and U-233 made from Lunar thorium makes good sense if we want large amounts of nuclear electric power and super high Isp nuclear based propulsion systems to mine the extensive resources of asteroids, moons, and comets of our immense Solar System.

            Sell the silly, slow, weak, and low Isp chemical rocket spaceships and massive government subsidies based Mars Fantasy Colonies to foolish folks, but I and lots of other folks are not buying into the continued secretive subsidy deals to dump enormous amounts of taxpayer money and resources into Mr. Musk’s bulging bank accounts and empire.

            John Hare, you are not scientific and “willing to think rationally on this subject.”

            • john hare

              With SpaceX on track to actually use the pad for launches somewhere in the triple digits well before the NET schedule of the first SLS useful payload, I’d say you prove my point quite well.

              • James

                With an anti-Moon President running NASA and using it to throw endless taxpayer money and NASA technical help to his political ‘friend’ while trying to repeatedly slow down or sabotage the development of the SLS and International Orion, it is amazing that the powerful Moon mission capable SLS and International Orion transportation system has even survived this far.

                The SLS and International Orion transportation system is designed for safely taking international crews on Lunar missions and that is a far different ball game than anything anyone else in the world is launching or will soon be launching.

                If SpaceX launchers are so efficient and great at making money, why ‘grab onto’ control of America’s Launchpad 39A that is needed for cost effective dual SLS Lunar mission launches and Launch on Need SLS rescue mission options?

                Why didn’t the super rich and endlessly efficient SpaceX just build their own super launch pad?

                Was renting out Launchpad 39A simply another attempt by our former anti-Moon President to increase human Lunar mission costs and risks for our national program of record SLS launcher and International Orion spacecraft? A brilliantly dirty political trick, wasn’t it!

                Why is super rich and efficient SpaceX still repeatedly getting taxpayer subsidies for their fantasy Mars Colonies Soon Raptor rocket engine?

                Why is it SpaceX, that is so efficient, rich, and great, cannot afford to pay for developing the Raptor rocket engine and yet Jeff Bezos can pay for developing his own rocket engines?

                Isn’t there a bank somewhere that trusts SpaceX enough to loan it the money needed to develop the Raptor rocket engine?

                Isn’t it fun to be a billionaire and endlessly get taxpayer money and NASA technical help for spouting Mars Fantasy Colonies Soon nonsense and helping a highly partisan, nonscientific, and anti-Moon President delay NASA led international human Lunar surface missions?

                • TomPerkins

                  SLS doesn’t deserve to survive, for the money it’s a useless rocket.

                  It has in fact had way more money than it needs to succeed if it were a competently run program, and has no excuse for not having launched already.

                  It became hopelessly obsolete the instant Space relaunched a used booster for about half the cost of building a new one.

                  Trump not being “Moon only” does not mean he is anti-moon.

                  Bezos has the money to blow a billion a year on BO while never yet seeing a return, Musk has to make the money to get the job done–which unlike Bezos he is getting it done. And isn’t it funny how you place no significance on the money BO is getting to develop the BE-4.

                  You really need to work harder at concealing your identity, Gary.

                  If you didn’t exist, SpaceX’s PR dept would have to invent you.

      • Tracy the Troll

        James,
        Who do you think owns the Federal Reserve? And how much do you think the net worth is of those people? Think hundreds of Trillions… Look up family Rothchild just for starters…

        Now then… “Billionaire Ray Dalio: There are 2 realities in this country—for the bottom 60 percent it’s a ‘miserable economy’” …And AI will be crucial in turning this around the elites know this and they are paranoid as they scramble to secure their cash flows.

        SpaceX and Musk’s other enterprises are the beginning of major cost reductions in space. Maybe Blue Orgin and Bezos is as well but they don’t have any services in space yet so we will see. BO will still have to go through a “RUD” period. Space is hard

        • James

          “Maybe Blue Orgin and Bezos is as well but they don’t have any services in space yet so we will see.” – Tracy the Troll

          Mr. Jeff Bezos didn’t jump into a science ignorant and highly partisan anti-Moon political bed with an anti-Moon and super partisan President to advance a ‘private’ company’s continued growth through more government subsidies.

          Mr. Jeff Bezos invests his own money to the tune of a billion dollars a year on his private and pro Moon Base and Lunar and asteroid resource tapping goals.

          Mr. Jeff Bezos is a real business person who is light years ahead of the highly government subsidized crony capitalist Mr. Elon Musk whose endless Mars Fantasy Colonies Soon based on energy weak, low Isp, slow, super high risk, ultra costly chemical powered spaceships and an endless government subsidy scam dance greatly helped a former anti-Moon President to significantly delay and increase the risks and costs of America’s, and our Home Planet’s, mining of Lunar resources.

        • James

          Tracy the Troll –

          Mr. Elon Musk says whatever Mars nonsense is going to help him get more government subsidies.

          Mr. Jeff Bezos seems to understand that:

          “We go to the Moon to learn how to live and work productively on another world.

          It is not enough to simply get there—once on the Moon, we must accomplish some significant goals. It is not enough to simply live on the Moon—we must learn the skills and acquire the technologies necessary to support human life indefinitely, making use of local resources to support this effort. And we do not go simply to say that we’ve gone—we go to create new technologies, make new discoveries, and create new wealth and new capabilities in space access and flight. To put it succinctly, our overarching goals are to arrive, to survive and to thrive.”

          From: ‘Why We Go to the Moon’ By Paul D. Spudis 10/17/2017
          At: http://www.airspacemag.com/daily-planet/why-we-go-moon-180965294/#Ogs5tXX5rLkJuERd.99

          And also:

          “And I just really think that’s going to be the moon. That’ll definitely be the first place that we colonize outside of Earth.”

          And,“A lot of people who would like us to just leap-frog to Mars, but Mars is so much farther away. It would be like if the ancient British colonized North America before they colonized Wales.”

          And,“But colonizing Mars is way, way far in the future, regardless of what everyone says. I just don’t see it happening soon. There’s a certain appeal to Mars because it’s interesting and exciting and people are like, ‘Oh, that’s neat!’ But the reality is that there is no economic reason to colonize Mars. At all.”

          And,“I guarantee you that regardless of how bad the problems are on Earth, environmentally or whatever else, it is easier to fix them than to colonize another planet. I guarantee you that.”

          And,“If you take the trillion dollars that you were going to spend colonizing Mars and put it into environmental amelioration things, you might find that it’s better done here. Leaving Earth as an idea of saving it is just not viable.”

          From: “’The Martian’ author Andy Weir is convinced we’ll colonize the moon — but says colonizing Mars doesn’t make any sense”
          By Dave Mosher 11/5/2017
          At: http://www.businessinsider.com/andy-weir-artemis-book-moon-colony-reason-2017-11

          So Tracy the Troll, do you want to support a Mars Fantasy Colonies Soon nonsense spouting highly government subsidized backroom deals guy who jumped into a super beneficial anti-Moon political bed with your favorite space ignorant, anti-Moon, and forever job offshoring former President, or do you want to support Mr. Jeff Bezos who wants to help NASA develop the Moon and Cisluanr Space which are both doable and job creating for all 50 states of America and much of the rest of the Home Planet?

          Who do you think is going to first launch super high Isp nuclear propulsion spaceships capable of heading extremely fast out across our Solar System to intercept and deflect or destroy an incoming NEO with nuclear weapons at distances equal to or more than the distance of Neptune’s orbit?

          Is it going to be Mr. Elon Musk with his government subsidized, fragile, energy weak, slow, highly risky, and low Isp chemical powered spaceships or is it going to be NASA with SLS launches of super fast, ultra high Isp, and robust nuclear power propulsion based spacecraft that routinely get suppied with Lunar derived uranium in a high Earth or high Lunar orbit?

          Who do you think would do a better job of defending our Earth from a large incoming dinosaur dynasty ending NEO, Mr. Elon Musk with his ‘lost in space’ political history and his slow and energy weak chemical powered rockets or NASA that has repeatedly been to the Moon and extensively researched how to build various types of nuclear powered spaceships and Lunar facilities and has a long political and technical history of efficiently working with Russia and many other countries in space?

          For the record, remember that the Russians want to go to the Moon with NASA and the Russians know fully well how to build and test the biggest nuclear bomb by far the world has ever seen. Such a Russian bomb or even much bigger such nuclear bombs could be critically useful against a large incoming NEO.

          Think about it.

          And please do not simply repeat some penny wise and trillion dollar foolish and endlessly repeated ‘SpaceX is cheap’ nonsense that ignores risking the extremely high and unique value of America, Russia, and the rest of our Home Planet.

          NASA working with Russia and many other nations in space is the best deal we have these days. Let’s keep NASA healthy and strong and far away from the ‘lost in space’ political clowns and close political ‘friends’ of our previous President.

          • Tracy the Troll

            James,
            I think both will happen together, that is some groups will head to the moon and other groups will head to Mars or elsewhere. As launch costs drop radically more destinations will become viable. There will be astronauts who will risk everything including their lives to go…For whatever reason fame, fortune, ..?

            I think that this will start with SpaceX transporting them…But that is not to say other transporters won’t emerge like BH, LM, Boeing, the Russians, China, India etc..

            Clearly this is NOT a zero sum – winner take all game..

        • James

          “I think that this will start with SpaceX transporting them…But that is not to say other transporters won’t emerge like BH, LM, Boeing, the Russians, China, India etc..” – Tracy the Troll

          SpaceX needs to quit trying to suck on Mars glory claims that it hasn’t paid for, hasn’t earned, and doesn’t seem likely to achieve.

          “Consider that 70 percent or more of the Ph.D. students in the United States studying engineering are foreign nationals, and they are returning to their home countries. Those principal countries are China and India. While at one time it was only a question of retaining them in the U.S. with green cards, recent data presented by Dr. Charles Vest, the former president of the National Academy of Engineering, indicates that it is also the pull of emerging businesses and national goals in their home countries. China’s recent launch of a lunar lander/rover and India’s interest in its own human spaceflight program are testimonies to first-class graduate educations in the U.S. and other spacefaring nations.”

          And, “It is equally concerning that the public largely does not recognize the situation because it believes through the social and mainstream media that commercial companies such as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. will be taking the nation to the Moon and Mars. While we would all like to see that future vision in decades to come, that is not the near-term reality.

          And, “At present, the investments and risks of space exploration are most successfully assumed through respective national government agencies. Those commercial companies competing to take passengers to the space station or low Earth orbit are not investing in the exploration R&D and STEM education we discussed in our academy reports.”

          And, “If the government is not funding R&D in its own labs, such as NASA, or funding the universities and therefore faculty and students, and the commercial companies have no market incentive to do so but are signing Space Act Agreements to obtain it from NASA, just who is expected to make it happen? I was raised on a farm where common sense dictates that you always maintain your supply of seed corn. Our seed corn is fast disappearing.”

          And, “The educational-research-development system by which the United States built its science and technology base over the last 100 years has been the envy of the world. This system helped us to prevail in two World Wars, put the United States on the Moon, helped us to lead in technology development, patents and Nobel prizes, yielded one of the best educational systems in the world and provided the environment for companies to thrive and to produce products that have transformed our world. Why are we allowing that to unravel?”

          And:
          “Bonnie J. Dunbar, Ph.D., National Academy of Engineering, is the M.D. Anderson Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston, director of the Cullen College of Engineering aerospace graduate program and director of the UH STEM Center. She is a former NASA astronaut who flew on five space shuttle missions.”

          From: ‘America’s Seed Corn Crisis’
          By Bonnie J. Dunbar — December 9, 2013
          At: http://spacenews.com/38562americas-seed-corn-crisis/

          Tracy the Troll, you can waffle about it and pretend otherwise, but the energy weak chemical rocket and nonscientific Mars Colonies Soon Fantasyland cult led by Mr. Elon Musk and encouraged by our former anti-Moon and highly politically partisan President who diverted NASA funds and assets to further enrich his rich political ‘friend’ clearly helped to damage America’s technological and political leadership in finding and mining Lunar resources and developing Cislunar Space, Space Based Solar Power, and large, powerful, and super high Isp nuclear powered spaceships that can minimize the risks and maximize the economic benefits of mining asteroids, comets, and moons.

          • Tracy the Troll

            James,
            While not a supporter of Obama to suggest he destroyed NASA at the behest of Musk…I mean Obama ran up $10T in debt. Anybody who wanted anything got more than they wanted not just needed. While SpaceX got their $2B to $3B on constant rocket R&D and launching actual rockets, the SLS Team have lined up $50B to 60B for a rocket that might launch …sometime in the mid 2020’s at this rate and who knows maybe never.

            Is that what you call a National Asset of Historic proportions?

            • James

              “I mean Obama ran up $10T in debt.”

              “Is that what you call a National Asset of Historic proportions?”

              Tracy the Troll

              Those are actually just more examples of how our former President could mess up in managing even a small parade that consisted of only one old horse.

              President Obama did his best to “slow roll” the SLS and International Orion Lunar Transportation System and make them as expensive as possible. He tried to make them fail. They have survived and will fly international folks to the Moon. He is now busy trying to rewrite history.

              President Obama used Mr. Musk and Mr. Musk used President Obama. We lost out on getting to the Moon sooner rather than later.

              Apparently neither one understands or cares about the value of the Moon to building America’s economy and high technology future.

              Compared to President Obama’s easy “$10T in debt”, the cost of the Moon mission useful SLS and International Orion Transportation System is small.

              Lunar missions aren’t cheap. The risks go up the farther away from Earth we go.

              With beyond LEO human spaceflight missions, cheap can get astronauts dead.

              Even LEO missions are risky.

              Do we want to lead the world with successful International Moon Village building and Lunar resource mining missions or do we want to be cheap?

              India, China, Russia, Europe, Japan, Iran, South Korea, and other nations will eventually make the needed and useful investments in the Moon and Cislunar Space if we would rather talk big and be cheap.

              Time will tell.

  • Frank G

    Here’s a virtual view of Pad 39A at the end of the Shuttle era. There is some Apollo safe room infrastructure shown, as well as an almost complete look at the Shuttle configuration from the lightning mast to the ‘Catacombs’.

    http://nasatech.net/ntSubPad39A_PAGE.html

  • Tracy the Troll

    James,

    I will admit …I never expected this to happen…So Fast

    NASA will allow CRS missions on previously flown boosters…

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/news/a28834/nasa-approves-launches-on/

    • James

      Well, the taxpayers of America should benefit if this can finally help SpaceX to quit their endless ‘Poor little me, I need another taxpayer subsidy’ game that they have played since their beginning.

      • TomPerkins

        They have never played that game Gary, receiving far less for like services than has Boeing or ULA.

        • James

          Tom Perkins – You are so lost and confused in your silly Mars Colonies Soon Fantasyland that you think everyone who disagrees with delaying Americans mining the Moon and secret deals to give taxpayer money and government assets to a billionaire political ‘friend’ of a President must of course be named “Gary”.

          Folks can invest in Boeing without having to be a rich political or CIA insider.

          • TomPerkins

            No, Gary it’s that if A = B, you may as well use the symbol B. You are identical to Gary Church, and he has a long history if deceitfully using pseudonyms to boot. So I’ll call you Gary.

            As for the ignorance of you calling this administration anti-Moon https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/931089584640884737

            But somehow, I’m sure it will be a tragedy for the USgov to pay SpaceX less money to get it done than ULA would charge.

            ” Folks can invest in Boeing without having to be a rich political or CIA insider. ”

            Buy some of Google, and you’ll own some of SpaceX. There are no political insiders investing in SpaceX, and if you could prove the CIA was funding it you’d be a hero to millions. You probably aren’t rational enough to understand though, you’d be a hero to millions you don’t want to be a hero to.

            Bottom line is, that last line of yours I quotes shows you to be borderline psychotic or an especially bent troll. Maybe both.

            I have a bit of schadenfreude at the prospect of being around to see it when you finally decompensate entirely.

            • James

              “Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ vision for his Blue Origin rocket venture is to have millions of people living and working in space — but why?”

              And, “Instead, Bezos extrapolates from current trends in population growth and energy use, just as British physicist Stephen Hawking did this month. If the lines on the chart creep up by just a few percent per year, eventually ‘you’d have to cover the entire Earth’s surface in solar cells,’ he said.”

              And, “‘That’s not going to happen,’ he continued. ‘So, we have two choices: We either go out into space, or we switch over to a civilization of stasis.’”

              “‘We have sent robotic probes to every planet in this solar system. Believe me, this is the best one,’ Bezos said. ‘We know that. It’s not even close. My friends who say they want to move to Mars or something … I say, ‘Why don’t you live in Antarctica for a year first, because it’s a garden paradise compared to Mars.’”

              From: ‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of spaceflight? Jeff Bezos links Blue Origin to saving Earth’ By Alan Boyle on November 15, 2017
              At: https://www.geekwire.com/2017/life-liberty-pursuit-spaceflight-jeff-bezos-links-blue-origin-saving-earth/

              Maybe you and Mr. Elon Musk should listen to Mr. Jeff Bezos.

              I don’t think Mr. Jeff Bezos is Gary.

              I do pretty much agree with both Gary and Mr. Jeff Bezos.

              You might think Mr. Jeff Bezos and I must be Gary, but trust me that such is not the case.

              Mr. Jeff Bezos wisely enough wants to save the Earth and have a permanent base on the Moon and he doesn’t need to stick his hands into the pockets of American taxpayers or grab control of “Pad 39A, America’s Moonport”. Yep, those are useful things to know about Mr. Jeff Bezos.

              Actually, the “decompensate entirely” folks are mostly all those individuals who still spout about the glories of ‘Mars Colonies Soon’ based on energy weak, slow, high risk, and low Isp chemical rocket spaceships.

              I’ve long been in the ‘Happy with going to the Moon’ group of folks that includes Gary, Mr. Jeff Bezos, and the leaders of just about every national space agency and most of the space businesses on the Home Planet.

              What a big and happy group of smart and good folks there are in that International Moon Village and Lunar Mining crowd! They’ll probably be able to work efficiently with all those wonderful Blue Origin people who are also quite serious about “saving Earth”.

              Have a great day!

              • TomPerkins

                All that word salad, so little meaning.

                • James

                  “All that word salad, so little meaning.” – TomPerkins perfectly captures the cheap essence of Mr. Elon Musk’s anti-technology plan for Mars Colonies Soon with energy weak chemical rocket spaceships!

                  “A = B, you may as well use the symbol B.”

                  “borderline psychotic” = Any individual who wants the American taxpayers to pay for Russian Roulette Mars Colonies Soon missions.

                  • Tracy the Troll

                    James,
                    Why didn’t the settlers who went west decide not to ride the Stage Coach and just wait for someone to build the train? Because that is all they had at the time.

                    So until that nuclear propulsion scheme is figured out in 50 years we will be using the “weak chemical rockets” as space is calling.

                    • James

                      Tracy the Troll –

                      The cold hard reality is that NASA’s “nuclear propulsion scheme” was “figured out” forty-five years ago.

                      Energy weak, highly risky, and slow chemical rocket powered spaceships for deep space missions are for the technology challenged neo-Luddite folks who are too lazy or intellectually challenged to mine and refine Lunar and Martian uranium.

                      “The Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA) was a U.S. nuclear thermal rocket engine development program that ran for roughly two decades. NERVA was a joint effort of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and NASA, managed by the Space Nuclear Propulsion Office (SNPO) until both the program and the office ended at the end of 1972.”

                      And, “NERVA demonstrated that nuclear thermal rocket engines were a feasible and reliable tool for space exploration, and at the end of 1968 SNPO certified that the latest NERVA engine, the NRX/XE, met the requirements for a human mission to Mars. Although NERVA engines were built and tested as much as possible with flight-certified components and the engine was deemed ready for integration into a spacecraft, much of the U.S. space program was cancelled by Congress before a manned mission to Mars could take place.”

                      And, “NERVA was considered by the AEC, SNPO and NASA to be a highly successful program; it met or exceeded its program goals. Its principal objective was to ‘establish a technology base for nuclear rocket engine systems to be utilized in the design and development of propulsion systems for space mission application’.[1] Virtually all space mission plans that use nuclear thermal rockets use derivative designs from the NERVA NRX or Pewee.”

                      And, “The Rover/NERVA program accumulated 17 hours of operating time with 6 hours above 2000 K. Although the engine, turbine and liquid hydrogen tank were never physically assembled together, the NERVA was deemed ready to design into a working vehicle by NASA, creating a small political crisis in Congress because of the danger a Mars exploration program presented to the national budget. Clinton P. Anderson, the New Mexico senator who had protected the program, had become severely ill. Lyndon B. Johnson, another powerful advocate of human space exploration, had decided not to run for a second term and was considerably weakened. NASA program funding was somewhat reduced by Congress for the 1969 budget, shutting down the Saturn rocket production line and cancelling Apollo missions after Apollo 17. Without the Saturn S-N rocket to carry the NERVA to orbit, Los Alamos continued the Rover Program for a few more years with Pewee and the Nuclear Furnace, but it was disbanded by 1972.”

                      And, “For the Space Launch System vehicle currently under development, an additional beyond-LEO engine for interplanetary travel from Earth orbit to Mars orbit, and back, is being studied as of 2013 at Marshall Space Flight Center with a focus on nuclear thermal rocket (NTR) engines.[8] In historical ground testing, NTRs proved to be at least twice as efficient as the most advanced chemical engines, allowing quicker transfer time and increased cargo capacity. The shorter flight duration, estimated at 3–4 months with NTR engines,[9] compared to 8–9 months using chemical engines,[10] would reduce crew exposure to potentially harmful and difficult to shield cosmic rays.[11][12][13][14] NTR engines, such as the Pewee of Project Rover, were selected in the Mars Design Reference Architecture (DRA).[12][15][16][17]”

                      From: ‘NERVA’ Wikipedia
                      At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NERVA

                      Politics and the lack of a heavy lifter like the Saturn V or upcoming SLS, not technology, were the main issues.

                      Yep, with the upcoming nifty SLS, the times could be changing.

                  • TomPerkins

                    Yes, Gary/”James”

                    “A = B, you may as well use the symbol B.” <– Elementary logic.

                    The USGov should pay for the capabilities it uses, anything else it theft. If the US want to have a stake in Mars, it had better pay to get there.

                    And it would be better at this time, since SpaceX has no credible competition, for the USGov to pay it than to put one more dime into the SLS.

              • Tracy the Troll

                James,
                We also get a Christmas present from Musk on Dec 29. He is launching the FH or F27. This is going to be cool… Now I don’t know for sure will he launch that from 39A? I hope so and you do know Musk has given the possibility of a successful launch at less than 50%… So I think we will all see Fireworks…Probably will blowup the 39A launch Pad! Can’t wait….And if he does blowup the 39A Pad…He will just repair it.

                • James

                  “We also get a Christmas present from Musk” – Tracy the Troll

                  A good Falcon launch would be nice.

                  However, a promise to return “America’s Moonport” to NASA when we need it for America’s SLS and International Orion Lunar missions would also be a very appropriate “Christmas present” from Mr. Elon Musk.

                  It really wasn’t President Obama’s “Moonport” to ‘give away’. Our former President was sometimes quite confused and thought he had a right to do whatever he wanted.

                  Our current President seems pretty busy trying to undo many of President Obama’s imperial ‘presidential orders’.

                  Such is politics.

                  • TomPerkins

                    Obama didn’t give anything away, Gary, and America doesn’t need the SLS, we’re better off without spending another dime on it.

                  • Tracy the Troll

                    James,
                    I do remember a bidding process was done to lease the facility and I know you said that it was NOT market acceptable because the SLS was not ready to fly and because they were not ready to ..

                    Wait a minute…. The SLS will only fly once every two years or maybe never. Actually I think LM is secretly working on the VentureStar SSTO and it will fly before SLS.

                    • James

                      Tracy the Troll –

                      Perhaps the bidding process was a space science ignorant and highly politically partisan President Obama joke.

                      If you don’t have a sophisticated and mature marketplace with lots of serious bidders that are eager and capable of putting in large and appropriate bids for the world wide famous and multi-billion dollar valued name brand “Pad 39A, America’s Moonport”, it becomes just another slick and sick way to ‘give’ an extremely valuable taxpayer paid for asset and a site on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) to a ‘political friend’ while also conveniently damaging the SLS and International Orion by removing economical dual SLS launches and critical risk reducing Launch on Need SLS rescue mission options.

                      The ignorant Mars Colonies Soon folks cannot get it through their neoLuddite cult brains that the powerful SLS is America’s future launcher for various efficient and super high Isp nuclear propulsion systems that are based on modern technology instead of using massive numbers of costly, energy weak, high risk, upper atmosphere fossil fuel and CO2 polluting, 1930s chemical rocket based technology spaceship launches to haul fossil fuel into orbit.

                      The Moon is our excellently located resource base and ‘gas station’ for both chemical powered Cislunar spaceships and those spaceships for beyond Cislunar Space misions that require high Isp and super high delta-v capable uranium powered nuclear propulsion systems.

                      Lunar water is mined and split for hydrolox propellant.

                      Lunar thorium and uranium are mined and refined for nuclear reactors to generate needed electricity and to power super high Isp and ultra high delta-v spaceship propulsion systems.

                      Hauling massive amounts of Mars colonies fossil fuel mission propellant, supplies, and building material up through our fragile upper atmosphere and nasty steep gravity well by using fossil fueled and CO2 spewing Mini BFR SpaceX launchers is an extremely ignorant idea that is ripe for justifiable international attacks and political cancellation by our future presidential and congressional candidates who will be correctly concerned about getting the votes, campaign donations and ‘other’ money, and political support and endorsements of folks who seriously care about our Home Planet’s environment.

                      Even hauling massive amounts of building material, supplies, and hydrolox and other types of propellant for needed geosynchronous equatorial orbit Space Based Solar Power Systems on launchers going up through our fragile upper atmosphere and nasty steep gravity well by using fossil fueled and CO2 spewing 1930s chemical rocket technology is also an extremely ignorant idea for the same reasons I just noted.

                      Yet, Mr. Jeff Bezos and many other folks and national space agencies on our Home Planet have correctly and repeatedly pointed out that we need Space Based Solar Power Systems.

                      Why?

                      To reduce pollution and the millions of pollution related deaths each year on our Home Planet.

                      To enable decades and centuries of rapid economic growth for everyone.

                      We can get the massive amount of geosynchronous equatorial orbit Space Based Solar Power Systems’ supplies, propellant, and building material from the industrialized Moon without endlessly polluting the Earth’s atmosphere.

                      Going from the Moon to geosynchronous equatorial orbit, or GEO, doesn’t pollute our upper atmosphere by using large fossil fueled and CO2 spewing Mini BFR SpaceX launchers and it won’t make environmentalists and politicians upset and eager to end human spaceflight missions.

                      And going from the Moon’s surface to geosynchronous equatorial orbit, or GEO, requires much less energy, or delta-v, than is the case in getting to geosynchronous equatorial orbit, or GEO, from the Earth’s surface.

                      But hold on a second!

                      The Internet is full of noisy and glorious praise for huge numbers of Mr. Elon Musk’s upper atmosphere fossil fuel burning and massive CO2 polluting super spaceships for hopping from one place to another on Earth and shipping enormous amounts of propellant, supplies, and industrial machines to Mars!

                      Has Mr. Elon Musk perhaps foolishly bought into and is trying to sell way too much upper atmosphere polluting fossil fuel 1930s rocket technology and snake oil?

                      Buy the massive numbers of fossil fuel burning and CO2 polluting chemical rocket launches if you want.

                      I and lots of other folks are not buying into the idea of huge numbers of large fossil fuel burning chemical rocket based Mars Colonies Soon spaceships and Earth transportation by similar spaceships spewing CO2 into our upper atmosphere with needlessly polluting 1930s chemical technology rocket engines.

                      However, I will loudly and consistently support the environmentalists of the Home Planet who will most likely repeatedly take Mr. Elon Musk to court in countries around the world for needlessly and foolishly polluting the upper atmosphere with massive amounts of fossil fuel burning and CO2 spewing 1930s chemical rocket technology spaceships.

                      Cheers!

                    • john hare

                      Any bets on SLS flying an actual payload before the 2024 elections?

                    • James

                      Join the President Obama neoLuddite Mars Colonies Soon cult and enjoy massive numbers of CO2 spewing and polluting and energy weak fossil fuel burning 1920s rocket technology based Mini BFR launchers hauling billions of tons of fossil fuel up through the former blue skies of America that are now darkened by soot and carbon particle enabled raindrops`!

                      Watch the world’s Internet news shows as the rest of the Home Planet laughs at and repeatedly legally challenges our superior forms of crony capitalism and political ignorant 1920s CO2 spewing rocket technology and instead uses highly efficient nuclear power rocket technology jointly developed by India, China, Russia, and Japan and quickly zooms past Mr. Elon Musk’s slow, inefficient, costly, highly risky, flimsy, and stinky fossil fuel rockets!

                      Listen to our secretive neoLuddite CIA leaders whine and explain their ongoing and costly fiasco of failing to steal and replicate India, China, Russia, and Japan’s jointly developed nuclear propulsion technology because those nations have far more and better paid computer and rocket engineers than America does!

                      The CIA’s leaders finally admitted the super efficient Lunar resource based nuclear propulsion technology jointly developed by India, China, Russia, and Japan in the 2020s and 2030s to enable Space Based Solar Power is far better and much more economically viable than the internationally banned, cheap, and 1920s based CO2 polluting rocket technology America bought from the President Obama neoLuddite Mars Colonies Soon CO2 spewing 1920s rocket technology cult!

                      In view of the CIA’s ongoing and gross failure to steal useful data and copies of India, China, Russia, and Japan’s jointly developed and super duper efficient nuclear propulsion space technology, Congress has just passed a fair law to eliminate all retirement benefits for all current and former CIA employees!

                      Current CIA salaries were also dramatically slashed in half!

                      Some news reports indicate many of the leaders in Congress want the neoLuddite and top CIA employees to even face charges of treason!

                      Yikes! Maybe we could partner with North Korea, Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan to jointly develop nuclear propulsion based spaceships in the 2040s after we finish fighting against them in the terrible and super costly 2019 through 2039 Energy Resource World Wars!

                      Note to the chronically intellectually challenged and loud supporters of costly, inferior, non-sustainable, environmentally damaging, and CO2 spewing 1923 snake oil rocket technology:

                      “China is hoping to achieve a “major breakthrough” in its space program by 2040 — including the development of nuclear-powered space shuttles that will allow for the mining of asteroids and ‘large-scale space exploration’ — state-run media have reported.”

                      And, “The ambitious goal of becoming a global leader in space technology by 2045 was detailed in a report issued by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., a major contractor for the country’s space programs, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.”

                      And, “Developing nuclear-powered space shuttles will ‘support large-scale exploration and development of space resources, and make mining on asteroids and space solar power plants possible,’ Xinhua quoted the report as saying, without adding further details.”

                      And, “Nuclear-powered rocket concepts are not new — the United States conducted studies and ground tests from 1955 to 1972 to determine the viability of such systems. But these tests were halted when plans for a crewed Mars mission were deferred.”

                      From: ‘China hopes to build nuclear-powered space shuttle by 2040’
                      By Jesse Johnson Nov 18, 2017
                      At: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/11/18/asia-pacific/science-health-asia-pacific/china-hopes-build-nuclear-powered-space-shuttle-2040/#.WhDUjrhrHwq

                      “Bengaluru: Asserting that the relationship between the space agencies of India and Japan has had a ‘visible change’, the Indian Space Research Organisation chief on Friday said the countries are working towards a joint lunar mission soon.”

                      From: ‘Soon, India-Japan to jointly explore the moon’ 11/17/2017
                      At: http://www.sify.com/news/soon-india-japan-to-jointly-explore-the-moon-news-national-rlrtXIcfghhff.html

                    • john hare

                      I take that as a no on backing your claims with your own money.

                    • James

                      john hare –

                      I pretty much quit betting after I lost five dollars of my hard earned money betting in Reno back in 1968 while on long trip across America that I took with my car. It was fun to be 16 years old and on the road Out West.

                      Yep, I was a bit wild in those days.

      • Chris

        The level of denial on display by James is quite impressive.

        • James

          Chris –

          The blind love and unrelenting “denial” of promoting endlessly massive amounts of growing and nonsustainable CO2 spewing 1920s rocket technology flights by the President Obama neoLuddite BFR folks is what is impressive.

          Airplane folks understand that they have a serious CO2 problem and that it is rapidly growing worse.

          “Airplanes emit particles and gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, lead, and black carbon which interact among themselves and with the atmosphere.[4]”

          And “Despite emission reductions from automobiles and more fuel-efficient and less polluting turbofan and turboprop engines, the rapid growth of air travel in recent years contributes to an increase in total pollution attributable to aviation. From 1992 to 2005, passenger kilometers increased 5.2% per year. And in the European Union, greenhouse gas emissions from aviation increased by 87% between 1990 and 2006.[5]”

          And, “Comprehensive research shows that despite anticipated efficiency innovations to airframes, engines, aerodynamics and flight operations, there is no end in sight, even many decades out, to rapid growth in CO2 emissions from air travel and air freight,[6][7] due to projected continual growth in air travel.[8][9] This is because international aviation emissions have escaped international regulation up to the ICAO triennial conference in October 2016 agreed on the CORSIA offset scheme,[citation needed] and because of the lack of taxes on aviation fuel worldwide, lower fares become more frequent than otherwise, which gives a competitive advantage over other transportation modes.[citation needed]”

          And, “Unless market constraints are put in place, this growth in aviation’s emissions will result in the sector’s emissions amounting to all or nearly all of the annual global CO2 emissions budget by mid-century, if climate change is to be held to a temperature increase of 2 °C or less.[10]”

          And, “In December 2011, the FAA announced it is awarding $7.7 million to eight companies to advance the development of drop-in commercial aviation biofuels, with a special focus on ATJ (alcohol to jet) fuel.”

          From: ‘Environmental impact of aviation’ Wikipedia
          At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_aviation#Operations_efficiency

          Chris, “denial” isn’t a river in Egypt and you seem to have tons of it.

          And in case you forgot, Mr. Elon Musk now supports building a base on the Moon prior to folks heading off to Mars.

          Cheers!

        • James

          “Space-based solar power systems convert sunlight to microwaves outside the atmosphere, avoiding these losses, and the downtime due to the Earth’s rotation, but at great cost due to the expense of launching material into orbit. SBSP is considered a form of sustainable or green energy, renewable energy, and is occasionally considered among climate engineering proposals. It is attractive to those seeking large-scale solutions to anthropogenic climate change or fossil fuel depletion (such as peak oil).”

          And, “SBSP is being actively pursued by Japan, China, and Russia. In 2008 Japan passed its Basic Space Law which established Space Solar Power as a national goal[3] and JAXA has a roadmap to commercial SBSP. In 2015 the China Academy for Space Technology (CAST) briefed their roadmap at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC) where they showcased their road map to a 1 GW commercial system in 2050 and unveiled a video[4] and description[5] of their design.”

          And, “Nevertheless, on 30 April 1979, the Final Report (“Lunar Resources Utilization for Space Construction”) by General Dynamics’ Convair Division, under NASA contract NAS9-15560, concluded that use of lunar resources would be cheaper than Earth-based materials for a system of as few as thirty Solar Power Satellites of 10GW capacity each.[63]”

          And, “The low cost per pound of lunar materials in O’Neill’s vision would be supported by using lunar material to manufacture more facilities in orbit than just solar power satellites. Advanced techniques for launching from the Moon may reduce the cost of building a solar power satellite from lunar materials. Some proposed techniques include the lunar mass driver and the lunar space elevator, first described by Jerome Pearson.[65] It would require establishing silicon mining and solar cell manufacturing facilities on the Moon.”

          And, “One proposal is to capture the asteroid Apophis into earth orbit and convert it into 150 solar power satellites of 5 GW each or the larger asteroid 1999 AN10 which is 50x the size of Apophis and large enough to build 7,500 5-Gigawatt Solar Power Satellites[74]”

          From: ‘Space-based solar power’ Wikipedia
          At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power#From_lunar_materials_launched_in_orbit

          With the SLS and International Orion, “Pad 39A, America’s Moonport”, the Lunar resource mining International Moon Village, nuclear powered spaceships, and a real need and desire to build trust between nations, there probably are lots of wise and very useful things we could do in space, including ‘Space-based solar power’ for our energy hungry Home Planet.

          • Tracy the Troll

            James,
            Do you think the SLS is going to launch SBAP systems?

          • Tracy the Troll

            James,

            This just in…

            http://spacenews.com/stratcom-chief-hyten-i-will-not-support-buying-big-satellites-that-make-juicy-targets/

            “When he ran U.S. Space Command, Hyten regularly reached out to “new space” entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, and he likes the way they think. “They are great partners, they have a great vision of the future,” Hyten said. “Talk about going fast, they’re going fast. And it’s always awesome to see companies that embrace a different vision of the future, that invest and go fast.” ”

            So I guess he really don’t need the SLS either…If we could just find something to launch on the SLS other than a Nuclear Enterprise which…might be a few decades away…

            • James

              “Hyten was previously at the helm of U.S. Space Command and is one of the military’s most respected authorities on all matters related to national security and space.”

              And, “People often interpret his statements to mean ‘I want a Battlestar Galactica’ that can defend itself, but that is not what he’s talking about. ‘You can’t afford to do that. You can’t put all the weight in space to do that.’ He would favor constellations of cheaper, smaller satellites that would be harder to take down and easier to reconstitute.”

              From: “STRATCOM chief Hyten: ‘I will not support buying big satellites that make juicy targets'” By Sandra Erwin — November 19, 2017
              At: http://spacenews.com/stratcom-chief-hyten-i-will-not-support-buying-big-satellites-that-make-juicy-targets/

              He is obviously partially wrong. Everyone who mines Lunar resources can ‘put all the weight in space to do that’ useful and effective radiation and kinetic impact shielding of both our commercial and military satellites.

              We will use a wide variety of national and international launchers including our large and powerful SLS to enable the building of an ever growing International Moon Village while also doing Lunar exploration, mining, and industrialization with both human and AI robotic astronauts.

              The Moon has extensive ore deposits of super strong and lightweight titanium.

              Getting titanium from the Lunar surface and hauling it to a geosynchronous equatorial orbit, or GEO, requires much less energy, or delta-v, and zip pollution than is the case in getting to geosynchronous equatorial orbit from the Earth’s surface while using CO2 belching chemical powered rockets.

              It is also environmentally foolish to haul massive amounts of building material, supplies, and propellant for needed geosynchronous equatorial orbit Space Based Solar Power Systems on launchers going up through our fragile upper atmosphere and our nasty steep gravity well while propelled by burning massive amounts of fossil fueled and CO2 spewing 1923 chemical rocket technology.

              Everything, or nearly everything, we need for large space based solar power systems and commercial and military satellite radiation and kinetic impact shielding can be sent from the Moon to geosynchronous equatorial orbit and other orbits with zip or nearly zip negative impact on the Earth’s fragile environment.

              More Earthlings would probably much rather have robust and well shielded military and communication satellite systems and a significant percentage of their power coming from clean and green space based solar power systems that were built using Lunar resources than they would having risky, costly, and non-useful colonies on cold and far distant Mars built by using massive amounts of environmentally polluting 1923 rocket technology that damages our upper atmosphere.

              Geopolitically, almost everyone would see the benefits of using Lunar resources and industrialization to build space based solar power systems as a win-win and healthy environmental solution for everyone who wants rapid economic growth and a clean, green, and politically stable Home Planet.

              All commercial and military and small, medium-sized, or huge satellites should be required by international agreements to become much more robust and much less easy to destroy in order to help avoid much of the political risks of space war and innumerable satellite fragments in the space commons and disruptions in our communication and military systems that would occur with our current fragile systems. Mobility options could also be enhanced for our satellites by using Lunar derived propellants.

              To be blunt, almost all or perhaps all of the world’s commercial satellites are inherently dual use capable, meaning they can be used for both military and civilian purposes.

              Lunar derived titanium garages of various sizes that satellites can dock with and automatically move into could be useful for greatly improving the robustness of all of our satellites no matter what sizes the satellites are or what their main purposes are.

              Robust thermal control systems, main solar panels and antennas, and backup solar panels and antennas, which can be deployed automatically could be built on the Moon and deployed as part of the thick walled titanium garage structures.

              When a satellite reaches the end of its life, it would disconnect and exit the garage and wait in orbit to soon be collected and then recycled on the Moon.

              Many good and useful options exist once we start mining Lunar resources and using products and propellants made on the Moon to enhance the security, reliability, longevity, profitability, and usefulness of our rapidly growing number of satellites in Cislunar Space.

              Note:

              “A new map of the moon has uncovered a trove of areas rich in precious titanium ore, with some lunar rocks harboring 10 times as much of the stuff as rocks here on Earth do.”

              “These titanium-rich areas on the moon puzzled the researchers. The highest abundance of titanium in similar rocks on Earth hovers around 1 percent or less, the scientists explained. The new map shows that these troves of titanium on the moon range from about 1 percent to a little more than 10 percent.”

              From: ‘Moon Packed with Precious Titanium, NASA Probe Finds’
              By SPACE.com Staff October 11, 2011
              At: https://www.space.com/13247-moon-map-lunar-titanium.html

              Cheers!

            • James

              Tracy the Troll –

              Note:

              “The cockpit and parts of the flight-control system are protected by 1,200 lb (540 kg) of titanium aircraft armor, referred to as a “bathtub”.[61][62] The armor has been tested to withstand strikes from 23 mm cannon fire and some strikes from 57 mm rounds.[57][61] It is made up of titanium plates with thicknesses from 0.5 to 1.5 inches (13 to 38 mm) determined by a study of likely trajectories and deflection angles. The armor makes up almost 6 percent of the aircraft’s empty weight. Any interior surface of the tub directly exposed to the pilot is covered by a multi-layer nylon spall shield to protect against shell fragmentation.[63][64]”

              From: ‘Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II’ Wikipedia
              At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairchild_Republic_A-10_Thunderbolt_II#A-10C

              “Juno Radiation Vault is a compartment inside the Juno spacecraft that houses much of the probe’s electronics and computers, and is intended to offer increased protection of radiation to the contents as the spacecraft endures the radiation environment at planet Jupiter.[1] The Juno Radiation Vault is roughly a cube, with walls made of 1 cm thick (1/3 of an inch) titanium metal, and each side having an area of about a square meter (10 square feet).[2] The vault weights about 200 kg (500 lbs).[3] Inside the vault are the main command and data handling and power control boxes, along with 20 other electronic boxes.[2] The vault should reduce the radiation exposure by about 800 times, as the spacecraft is exposed to an anticipated 20 million rads of radiation[1] It does not stop all radiation, but significantly reduces it in order to limit damage to the spacecraft’s electronics.[2]”

              “Without its protective shield, or radiation vault, Juno’s brain would get fried on the very first pass near Jupiter — Juno’s PI[6]”

              From: ‘Juno Radiation Vault’ Wikipedia
              At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juno_Radiation_Vault

              Lunar titanium used with other Moon derived material for radiation and kinetic impact shielding could help some satellites to survive and remain at least partially useful during a nuclear space war. That type of robustness could help to discourage any thoughts or threats about the use of nuclear and kinetic impact attacks in space.

              Such Lunar derived shielding material could also help to protect our satellites from impacts with small pieces of space debris and offer at least partial protection against Galactic Cosmic Radiation.

              Of course building a large “Battlestar Galactica” with Lunar derived material could offer enough shielding for full protection against Galactic Cosmic Radiation and various other space hazards.

              Cheers!

              • Tracy the Troll

                James,

                “We will use a wide variety of national and international launchers including our large and powerful SLS to enable the building of an ever growing International Moon Village while also doing Lunar exploration, mining, and industrialization with both human and AI robotic astronauts.”

                What you describe here is commercial activity. Are you suggesting that the SLS will be used for putting mining equipment on the moon or SBSP systems in orbit? Is the SLS a Commercial launcher?

            • James

              Companies and nations are planning on a variety of upcoming Lunar robotic missions.

              We need a lot of robots on the Moon.

              Controlling those robots here on Earth, planning the work they’ll do, and analyzing what they discover and do should create quite a few high tech jobs.

              Such Lunar jobs on Earth are an efficient way to get a lot of work done on the Moon.

              People need high technology jobs.

              We need to rebuild our American middle class and move everyone that is poor in the world into the middle class of their respective nations. Not an easy task, but it is doable and needed if we want to reduce the incidence of crazy little wars and various types of terrorism and other violence.

              Once we know where in the Moon’s Polar Regions we could best build the International Moon Village to access Lunar water and other resources such as solar energy, we’ll start to preposition and bury habitats and land supplies at that location with robotic missions. Lots could be done prior to sending humans there.

              Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander and various other commercial cargo landers should be quite useful in landing supplies, habitats, and robots.

              NASA and other space agencies around the Home Planet will initially use the SLS and evolved International Orion to get folks to low Lunar orbit.

              Russia and China are also developing new Lunar spacecraft and Super Heavy Launchers.

              Hopefully, Russia, Europe, China, Japan, and India could all have human rated landers sometime soon. Maybe there will also be several human rated commercial landers. Those human rated landers, built by various nations and companies will get folks to and from the International Moon Village.

              There are lots of Lunar investment options for commercial folks such as Bigelow Aerospace, Orbital ATK, ULA, and SpaceX.

              Making hydrolox propellant, and maybe some other propellant combinations, for the Lunar Landers is going to be a very high priority risk reduction and cost saving issue. Which group of nations or companies is going to do that task?

              Hard to guess how it all will work out.

              No money, no Buck Rogers.

              Congress and politicians and business folks around the world will decide how much and fast the Lunar investment money will flow and when it will flow.

              Note:

              “In 1983, a group of planetary scientists and defense space experts considered the acquisition and uses of space resources to support our national strategic needs. The report from this meeting recommended a research program designed to assess whether, and how, space resources from near-Earth asteroids and the Moon might be accessed and deployed. Their work considered a variety of needs for such a system, including orbital transfer vehicles (to move payloads between low Earth orbit and higher regions of cislunar space), propellant depots, and the use of bulk material to shield and protect satellite assets.”

              From: ‘Unexpected Connections: The Strategic Defense Initiative and Space Resources’
              By Paul Spudis 6/14/2017
              At: http://www.spudislunarresources.com/blog/unexpected-connections-the-strategic-defense-initiative-and-space-resources/

              Of course, the military folks and interests around the world are going have various roles to play as well, if we are going to seriously and carefully build verifiable trust amongst nations.

              Verifiable trust is needed to slowly, carefully, and mutually reduce military budgets and refocus that military money on developing Cislunar Space and getting ready to mine asteroids and moons and defend the Home Planet from any large, medium, or small incoming NEO.

              Did I mention we humans really need nuclear powered spaceships ASAP? There is a lot of high technology work to do, isn’t there?

              There is uranium and thorium that can be mined on the Moon. Let’s use it to power our spaceships so we can explore and mine asteroids and do other useful things in space.

              Cheers!

  • Tracy the Troll

    James,

    “NASA and other space agencies around the Home Planet will initially use the SLS and evolved International Orion to get folks to low Lunar orbit.”

    So you see NASA with the Orion at $1.5B per launch as a Crew transport operation for the world to put people close to the moon and then other companies taking them to and from the lunar surface?

    • James

      Tracy the Troll –

      Launcher costs are highly dependent on how frequently the launcher is used.

      If you want to reduce your launch costs, fly your launcher much more frequently.

      At 10 flights per year it begins to make good sense to build in or add launcher reuse options.

      There is no real reason the SLS could not eventually be fully reused.

      Despite many foolish claims, nobody knows what SLS launches will eventually cost because launch frequency has a huge impact on launch costs. Congress will decide on how often the SLS flies. Money talks louder than foolish and empty Mars claims.

      Not many folks are looking at America as one big business that absolutely needs an active and always up to date, constantly tested, ready to roll, and large solid rocket motor production capability to sustain our many military defense options. How many nations on Earth have militaries without useful weapon systems?

      If it makes you feel better, view the SLS as simply a way to constantly hone and test the solid rocket technology base ‘sword’ that much of the defense of America depends on.

      Would it be much ‘cheaper’ to off-shore our solid rocket motor research, testing, and production capability to Mexico, India, Japan, or Italy? Maybe! Will we do that? Nope! Think about it.

      How valuable is America? How valuable is international peace?

      The routine, frequent, and peace promoting use of the SLS and International Orion Lunar Transportation System clearly demonstrates to the world’s military folks that the USA and its solid rocket technology and production capability is ready for war if push ever comes to shove.

      You and many others on the Internet seem to totally underestimate the promotion of international peace and stability real world value of frequently flying the SLS and International Orion Lunar Transportation System.

      Making a fully reusable launcher reduces the LEO payload perhaps by 40 to 50% compared to what that same launcher could put into LEO without being reusable.

      If your payload is too heavy for launcher reuse, even SpaceX switches to a non-reuse option.

      Payloads are often much more important and valuable than the money saved by reusing a launcher.

      Until we get Lunar and asteroid propellant available in Low Lunar orbit and low Earth orbit and are able to reload propellant on upper stages, even our big launchers will be often be maxed out on high delta-v Lunar launches and thus unable to use a reuse option, even if it is available.

      Others may see it differently. So be it.

      The cost of not promoting American jobs and technology has been much higher than the powerful SLS and Orion system will ever be.

      Commercialization of space means zip if the American middle class keeps shrinking and no one really thinks we can afford to go anywhere.

      The debt that the last President promoted while also ignoring the off-shoring of American jobs hurt our space program and technological base.

      Think of the SLS and International Orion Lunar Transportation System as an experimental research program to extend our national Interstate Highway System to the Moon.

      The Interstate Highway System promotes American business everywhere in America.

      The Interstate Highway System helps to integrate America on many levels.

      The Interstate Highway System promotes safe highway travel and makes various cost reducing defense options much more doable for America.

      The Interstate Highway System helps to create jobs everywhere in America.

      “The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways (commonly known as the Interstate Highway System, Interstate Freeways, or simply the Interstate) is a network of controlled-access highways that forms a part of the National Highway System of the United States. The system is named for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who championed its formation. Construction was authorized by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, and the original portion was completed 35 years later, although some urban routes were cancelled and never built. The network has since been extended and, as of 2013, it had a total length of 47,856 miles (77,017 km).[2] As of 2013, about one-quarter of all vehicle miles driven in the country use the Interstate system.[3] In 2006, the cost of construction was estimated at about $425 billion[4] (equivalent to $526 billion in 2016[5]).”

      From: ‘Interstate Highway System’ Wikipedia
      At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_System

      Cheers!

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