Saturday, September 12, 2009

Future Human Space Exploration

Developing the Hardware for Future Human Space Exploration

About the Lecture
While Michael Griffin sees a wealth of reasons for space exploration in general and returning to the moon in particular, NASA must still manage on a tiny portion of “the national treasure.” This 7/10th of a percent of the national budget – the equivalent of each American paying 15 cents every day – “is not an expenditure we should do without,” Griffin asserts. We are driven to investigate beyond earth because curiosity and the desire to master new territory are “wired into our DNA.” But Griffin finds great value in the “opportunity for benign cooperative American leadership.” Space exploration strengthens the nation, society and the human species, he says.



Developing a foothold on the moon will afford humans experience in operating away from earth’s environment, helping to develop the technology needed for opening the space frontier -- practice for Mars and beyond. Griffin provides details on emerging models for a new crew exploration vehicle and booster rockets. NASA is attempting to take advantage of earlier designs for the sake of economy and speed – “architecture with as little fuss and bother as possible, maximizing the use of things we already own.” There will be plenty of commercial opportunities in these public missions, with NASA seeking to purchase launch and communication services as soon as available. And he envisions promoting international cooperation by offering seats in the lunar lander in exchange, in one example, for help in setting up a lunar habitat. “We don’t want to return to the days where NASA does everything,” says Griffin.

Link: mitworld.mit.edu

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