[FPSPACE] Let's save some REAL programs in addition to "The Outpost" (Re:I sent MY Check!)

WSpaceport@aol.com WSpaceport@aol.com
Sun, 15 Oct 2000 17:33:02 EDT

In a message dated 10/15/2000 7:26:38 PM, spacecon@gate.net writes:

> There is a move afoot to save one of the favorite watering-holes and 
> Cholesterol-saturated Astronaut hangouts.

Hey Gang --

While efforts to save "The Outpost" near JSC and "The Cape" TV series by 
putting it back on the air here in the United States are noble causes, let's 
not let it detract any of you from trying to save some "real" space efforts.

The following articles (and websites) are for your perusal and immediate 


Jim Spellman
National Space Society/Western Spaceport Chapter
"Do your duty and a little bit more, and the future will take care of itself."
    -- Andrew Carnegie

"In a moment of decision, the best thing to do is the right thing to do.  The 
worst thing is to do nothing."
    --Theodore Roosevelt

Action Delayed is Discovery Denied. . .


Reprinted with permission of Space.com
Homegrown Movement to Save Scrapped Probe

By Andrew Bridges
Pasadena Bureau Chief
posted: 07:00 am ET 
01 October 2000     

PASADENA, Calif. -- The mothballed Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander has found itself 
a torchbearer in Harrison Quigley.

Along with a small group of friends, the Connecticut aerospace engineer has 
launched www.savethemarslander.org, a grass-roots attempt to get NASA to 
salvage the earthbound Martian probe.

"All were saying is you built and tested it, now fly it," Quigley said.

NASA scrapped the Lockheed Martin Astronautics-built probe as part of a 
massive reorganization effort sparked by the back-to-back losses of the Mars 
Climate Orbiter and Polar Lander spacecraft last year.

For now, the estimated $100 million-plus spacecraft sits -- all but finished 
-- at Lockheed in Colorado. It’s a fate that floors Quigley, who saw the 
canned lander during a visit to the factory last winter.

"The goal is really to inform everyone there is a completed spacecraft 
sitting out there in Denver," Quigley said in an interview with SPACE.com. 
"Why don’t we do something useful with it? That’s all we’re trying to do."

In many ways the lander resembles the ill-fated Polar Lander, which most 
likely plummeted to the surface of Mars because of a single line of bad 
computer code.

However, despite any apparent bad juju, the 2001 lander received a clean bill 
of health earlier this year, clearing it for flight.

"The return to flight team that looked at it for 2001 technically saw no 
reason not to fly it," said Noel Hinners, vice president of flight systems 
for Lockheed Martin Astronautics, in a recent interview. "You have to get 
over the fear of flying it."

The website, cranked out at night over the course of a year, includes images 
of the spacecraft, its history, copies of leaked NASA documents relevant to 
the cancelled mission and a petition Quigley said he hopes to forward to NASA 

Although the site has been up and running for only a short while -- it 
registered some 1,400 hits as of Friday -- the petition shows it has clearly 
struck a nerve among Mars enthusiasts.

"The responses have been really cool," Quigley said.

Among those who have posted messages -- supportive, for the most part -- are 
employees of NASA and Lockheed, as well as scientists and academics involved 
in the exploration of the Red Planet.

"Its just a shame to put in all that work into getting to the final point, 
with all the testing before launch, and then go and scrap the thing," said 
Peter Smith, a University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory senior 
research scientist, who added his own comment to the board earlier this week.

But the effort may be for naught.

Within a month’s time, NASA aims to make public its revised plans for the 
exploration of Mars over the next decade and beyond.

While the 2001 lander’s scientific payload will likely make it to Mars at 
some point, the lander itself will not.

"They are still looking at what can be used, but it won’t be used in its 
present form," said NASA spokeswoman Dolores Beasley of the probe’s hardware.

(Reprinted with permission of L.A. Times)

Space Enthusiasts Campaign to Restore Mission to Pluto 
Science: Thousands of letters and a Web petition are protesting the decision 
to delay the trip. Supporters are looking for help from NASA and Congress. 

By USHA LEE MCFARLING <mailto:Usha.McFarling@latimes.com>
Times Science Writer

Advocates of the tiny planet Pluto now have a new mission: getting NASA to 
restore a suspended trip to the smallest and most distant member of the solar 
system--the only one that remains unexplored. 

Citing ballooning costs for space missions, NASA officials ordered an 
immediate work stoppage late last month on the Pluto-Kuiper Express mission 
being planned at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. Originally scheduled to 
be launched in 2004 and to reach the icy planet by 2012, a spacecraft is now 
not expected to reach Pluto until 2020--a date some scientists say will be 
too late to probe the planet's vanishing atmosphere. 

But that decision is stirring up something of a public revolt. 

In just two weeks, the Planetary Society, a Pasadena-based group of space 
exploration enthusiasts, has received 10,000 letters protesting the 
suspension of the
mission. And a Web petition created by a Pennsylvania teenager has received
hundreds of signatures in just days. 

"Pluto is the only planet in our solar system that has not been explored," 
said Louis Friedman, executive director of the Planetary Society. "We ought 
to finish the job we started in 1960." 

Though studied extensively from Earth, Pluto remains mysterious. It hasn't 
even been photographed clearly. An image by the world's best space telescope, 
the Hubble, reveals only faint blurs of dark and light on the surface of the 
planet, which is usually the farthest from the sun. 

"A lot of Americans have a lot of faith in the space program. It really lets 
people down when they cancel a mission," said Ted Nichols II, a 17-year-old 
high school senior and amateur astronomer from near Harrisburg, Pa., who 
created the <http://www.plutomission.com> Web site. 

Those signing on to the petition site come from all over this planet. "Vamos 
a Pluton!!!" reads a note from Argentina. "I want to be alive when the 
information comes back," pleads a woman from Albuquerque.  

Both Nichols and Friedman are surprised at the potent public response to 
Pluto. It may be because the distant planet has "the mystery of the edge," 
surmises Friedman. Doug Stetson, who manages solar system exploration for JPL 
thinks it may be because most people dislike unfinished business.

"There's a real desire to complete the first wave of exploration," he said.  
But Alan Stern, an expert on Pluto at the Southwest Research Institute, is 
not surprised at all. "I think it's because it's diminutive," he said of the 
planet, which is two-thirds the size of Earth's moon. "Pluto's the little 
planet that could. It's every schoolkid's favorite." 

Stern is among scientists concerned that a delayed mission will arrive too 
late to study the planet's tenuous atmosphere. As Pluto moves away from the 
sun in its elliptical orbit, the atmosphere will freeze and collapse to the 
planet's surface as snow. Though it is not known when this will occur, some 
models show it happening before 2020, Stern said. Postponing launch also 
means losing the ability to use the gravity of Jupiter to help speed the 
craft as it hurtles outward. 

"It would be a travesty if we showed up after the atmosphere collapsed onto 
the surface. It would be embarrassing to show up with a suite of atmospheric 
instruments," said Stern, who is seeing, for the second time in a decade, a 
mission to Pluto postponed after lost missions to Mars. 

"It's the same story again," he said. "I feel like I'm in a Fellini film." 

Stetson and some planetary scientists agree that some of the atmosphere may
still be in place to study in 2020. He said other aspects of the mission, 
such as studying the primitive material surrounding Pluto in the so-called 
Kuiper belt at the far reaches of the solar system could yield clues about 
the system's origin and life within it. 

Stern is hoping NASA, with a $14-billion annual budget, will find a way to 
restore the mission, which had been expected to cost $500 million. A 
1,200-member coalition of planetary scientists has also asked that the 
mission be restored to its original schedule, but not at the cost of other 
scheduled missions. 

Since the trip to Pluto is time-sensitive, some space enthusiasts say NASA 
should have chosen to delay other missions, such as one to Jupiter's moon 
Europa, which remains on track. "Europa's not going anywhere," said Nichols.  
"Nature's not going to wait for us to get to Pluto." 

The Planetary Society plans to send the letters it has gathered to select 
members of the U.S. House and Senate. Nichols said he may travel to 
Washington with his petition. Their hope is that Congress will issue a 
directive to restore the mission or free up more money for NASA to continue 
it as scheduled. Although some NASA insiders said restoring the original 
mission remains a long shot, others said some work was quietly under way to 
return to an earlier launch. 

Buoyed by the almost instant success of his petition drive, Friedman was 
optimistic. "I have high hopes of awakening NASA and the Congress to the 
priority of Pluto," he said, as he thumbed through responses from Alaska, 
Georgia and Indiana. "They're going to realize they can't just put it off.  
There has to be a sense of now about it."