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Technical Downtime :) July 27, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in Luna C/I.
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I’m going to be moving the site over to a different hosting source this week, so I’ll be back next week (or sooner, if it turns out to be quick and easy) with regular updates, a 2-week edition of the Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup, and some early revamps/expansions of the site :)

In the meantime, keep an eye on my Twitter page :)

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Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup #27 July 20, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in Google Lunar X Prize, Google Lunar X Prize Roundup.
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Great week around the Google Lunar X PRIZE—black magic, cannons, and youth inspiration:

NASA Announces New Centennial Challenges; Two Moon-Related :) July 15, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in Centennial Challenges, lunar night, NASA, private space, rover.
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This week, NASA announced three new Centennial Challenge prizes—the first in five years :) Much like the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, these prizes set tasks to be completed for $1.5-2 million each.

Two of the new challenges are directly lunar-related:

  • Night Rover Challenge: Demonstrate a solar-powered rover that can store its energy to operate during the lunar night. With the theorized Peak of Eternal Light shown to not quite exist (89% illumination being the max), and most of the Moon receiving less than that regardless, sustainable (and cost-effective) night operation will prove to be a critical leg-up for any lunar effort.
  • Sample Return Robot Challenge: A prize for the aspiring Jack Schmitts and Lee Silvers of the world (…or, worlds), this challenge sets forth the task of demonstrating a robot that can retrieve geologic samples from a wide, varied terrain without human interference.

Both prizes have a purse of $1.5 million, with the third Nano-Satellite prize having a purse of $2 million.

Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup #26 July 13, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in Google Lunar X Prize, Google Lunar X Prize Roundup.
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Here’s all your Google Lunar X PRIZE goodness for the week ending July 12th…

To keep up on all of the teams’ Twitterverse activities, check out my handy GLXP Twitter List :)

Potentially Icy Northern Crater Mapped By LRO July 7, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in lunar mining, lunar North Pole, lunar polar regions, Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter, lunar water, NASA, Rozhdestvenskiy, water.
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NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has mapped for the first time in high resolution a crater of interest for potential ice deposits.

A permanently-shadowed crater within the larger, northern Rozhdestvenskiy, the LRO’s advanced Mini-RF imaging technology was able to bring out the Circular Polarization Ratio (CPR) of the crater and its surroundings. A stark contrast between the two suggests thick deposits of ice, as were shown generally to exist around the north pole earlier this year.

You better get used to ‘Rozhdestvenskiy’, as deposits will surely make this an icy hotspot for future lunar missions and subsequent (lucrative) mining efforts.

Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup #25 July 5, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in Google Lunar X Prize, Google Lunar X Prize Roundup.
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As America celebrated it’s 234th anniversary, there were a few anniversaries celebrated around the Google Lunar X PRIZE as well :) The full scoop on all the week’s GLXP goodness:

Fact Sheet: Obama’s New White House National Space Policy June 28, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in cooperation, National Space Policy, Obama, private sector.
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President Obama’s new Space Policy document for the White House has just been released!

“In a world where the benefits of space permeate almost every facet of our lives, irresponsible acts in space can have damaging consequences for all of us. As such, all nations have a responsibility to act to preserve the right of all future generations to use and explore space. The United States is committed to addressing the challenges of responsible behavior in space, and commits further to a pledge of cooperation…” – National Space Policy Fact Sheet

Here’s the PDF of the full 18-page policy, and a rundown below of the fact sheet‘s bullet points with my brief commentary:

“Key Elements of the Administration’s National Space Policy

  • The United States remains committed to many long-standing tenets in space activities. The United States recognizes the rights of all nations to access, use, and explore space for peaceful purposes, and for the benefit of all humanity.

“Benefit of all humanity” is similar to language in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

  • The United States calls on all nations to share its commitment to act responsibly in space to help prevent mishaps, misperceptions, and mistrust. The United States will take steps to improve public awareness of government space activities and enable others to share in the benefits of space through conduct that emphasizes openness and transparency.

Key there is probably ‘mishaps’: disasters in space are obviously expensive, and so the risk getting out of control would be a roadblock to increased access to space (as the risk could become too great for anyone to want to undertake) and in turn, to future private industry (economic) growth.

  • The United States will engage in expanded international cooperation in space activities. The United States will pursue cooperative activities to the greatest extent practicable in areas including: space science and exploration; Earth observations, climate change research, and the sharing of environmental data; disaster mitigation and relief; and space surveillance for debris monitoring and awareness.
  • The United States is committed to a robust and competitive industrial base. In support of its critical domestic aerospace industry, the U.S. government will use commercial space products and services in fulfilling governmental needs, invest in new and advanced technologies and concepts, and use a broad array of partnerships with industry to promote innovation. The U.S. government will actively promote the purchase and use of U.S. commercial space goods and services within international cooperative agreements.

“Actively promote” the purchase of U.S. commercial services internationally. A logical, if significant step.

  • The United States recognizes the need for stability in the space environment. The United States will pursue bilateral and multilateral transparency and confidence building measures to encourage responsible actions in space, and will consider proposals and concepts for arms control measures if they are equitable, effectively verifiable, and enhance the national security of the United States and its allies. In addition, the United States will enhance its space situational awareness capabilities and will cooperate with foreign nations and industry to augment our shared awareness in space.

Arms control “if” it is “equitable, effectively verifiable” and enhances U.S. national security. That’s a big “If” :)

  • The United States will advance a bold new approach to space exploration. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will engage in a program of human and robotic exploration of the solar system, develop new and transformative technologies for more affordable human exploration beyond the Earth, seek partnerships with the private sector to enable commercial spaceflight capabilities for the transport of crew and cargo to and from the International Space Station, and begin human missions to new destinations by 2025.

The 2025 date Obama mentioned in his April speech pops up again, presumably for an asteroid mission. “New destinations”.

  • The United States remains committed to the use of space systems in support of its national and homeland security. The United States will invest in space situational awareness capabilities and launch vehicle technologies; develop the means to assure mission essential functions enabled by space; enhance our ability to identify and characterize threats; and deter, defend, and if necessary, defeat efforts to interfere with or attack U.S. or allied space systems.

Identifying threats/debris comes up repeatedly in this fact sheet; appears to be a tenet of Obama’s planned international cooperation.

  • The United States will fully utilize space systems, and the information and applications derived from those systems, to study, monitor, and support responses to global climate change and natural disasters. The United States will accelerate the development of satellites to observe and study the Earth’s environment, and conduct research programs to study the Earth’s lands, oceans, and atmosphere.

This fact sheet from the White House covers the important points from the full policy document [PDF]—I’m going to have a look at that and see what I can wean from there :)

Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup #24 June 27, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in Google Lunar X Prize, Google Lunar X Prize Roundup.
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Shifting my Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundups to the beginning of the week, here’s all the latest GLXP goodness going back to June 16th:

SHIFTboston Contest: Design a Moon Capital! June 21, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in lunar land use planning, SHIFTboston Moon Capital Competition.
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Boston-based urban design firm SHIFTboston is holding a competition: design a lunar capital!

Calling on urban designers, architects, artists, engineers, and anyone else that’s interested, SHIFTboston is challenging teams to combine vision and planning to come up with what a future lunar base/capital might look like, and how it might function.

“This competition is intended to collect and inspire… The goal is to attract greater public interest in future possibilities for human expansion into the solar system, and in elements of self-sustaining cities of the future – efficient cities – that no longer rely on fossil fuel.”- SHIFTboston competition page

The winning effort will recieve a $1,000 cash prize, present at a swanky panoramic gala in Boston, have their entry as part of a new virtual moon tourism world/game (!), and have their entry displayed as part of a MOON CAPITAL exhibit at none other than the Johnson Space Center. Wow.

This contest is awesome to see for me, personally—I have my Bachelor’s in Urban Planning (from Cal State University-Northridge), and the way I fell into moon colonization at all was through similar thinking, circa 2007: “We’re going to build on the Moon…what’s that going to look like? What are the challenges?”

Urban design’s what got me into planning, so this kind of visionary/practical melding is totally my cup of tea. (I finally have some proof  to backup that urban planning and moon colonization are related! ;) )

I’ve got a Bachelor’s in it, and the contest is open until early September, so if anyone’s forming a team…drop me a line! :) I’d love to participate.

Regardless, I’ll be watching this closely as the entries come along and their jury panel (which will include an Apollo astronaut) selects the winner.

For the full details on the competition categories and its requirements, check out this page.

Google Lunar X PRIZE Roundup #23 June 16, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in Google Lunar X Prize, Google Lunar X Prize Roundup.
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Fun, busy week around the Google Lunar X PRIZE! Some great rover pieces, in particular :) Here’s the scoop, including items from 8 different teams!:

And for even more GLXP news-bits awesomeness, be sure to sign up for the GLXP’s official newsletter! :)