The Official Space Thread! Water on the moon CONFIRMED

Apr 2, 2009
The Google Lunar X Prize obviously hasn't drawn quite the same number of competitors as some of the more Earthbound X Prizes, but it looks like things are starting to heat up a little bit, with Paragon Space Development recently teaming up with Odyssey Moon in an effort to deploy the first greenhouse on the surface of moon. Specifically, the team is hoping to grow a Brassica plant (a member of the mustard family) in a pressurized greenhouse like the one picture above, and possibly even see the plant re-seed itself within a single Lunar day (or 14 Earth days), which just so happens to coincide with the average growth period for the plant on Earth. Of course, that would only be one small part of the X Prize mission, which first and foremost requires teams to safely land a craft, send some live video back to Earth, travel at least 500 meters, send some more video, and carry a payload. So, still a little ways off, but don't let that stop you from checking out the (autoplaying) video after the break, in which Paragon's Taber MacCallum (a Biosphere veteran himself) explains the project to the folks at Engineering TV.

i love space. i'd love to see the private sector get into space asap
Apr 2, 2009
NASA aims for unmanned moon rocket launch Thursday

WASHINGTON – NASA plans to launch an unmanned rocket to the moon Thursday, the first such mission in a decade.

The space agency announced plans for the Cape Canaveral launch Wednesday after deciding to postpone a space shuttle mission because of a hydrogen gas leak. The timing for the moon mission couldn't be set until NASA knew whether the shuttle plans would go forward.

The robotic moon probes will hunt for hidden ice. The mission will cost $583 million. NASA has three split-second times to try to launch the Atlas V rocket carrying the two lunar probes. They are at 5:12 p.m., 5:22 p.m., and 5:32 p.m. EDT.

NASA says there are also three possible time slots Friday evening if the launch has to be delayed.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – NASA was set to blast off two probes Thursday on a landmark lunar exploration mission to scout water sources and landing sites in anticipation of sending mankind back to the moon in 2020.

Forty years after the 1969 historic first landings on Earth's satellite, the US space agency said it is on course to launch the dual LRO and LCROSS missions atop an Atlas V rocket from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

A day after scrubbing the shuttle Endeavour launch for the second time in a week because of a nagging hydrogen fuel leak, NASA said it has three launch windows ready Thursday at 5:12 pm (2112 GMT), 5:22 pm (2122 GMT) and 5:32 pm (2132 GMT).

If none work out, officials have inked in three more opportunities late Friday at 2241 GMT, 2251 GMT and 2301 GMT.

Americans were the last people to also walk on the moon in 1972, and the new mission is the first step on the long journey to launch manned missions further into our solar system, to the planet Mars and beyond, from lunar colonies.

President Barack Obama has said the program, dubbed the Constellation project, needs to be reviewed, but so far has not cast doubt on its goals.

"The robotic mission will give us information we need to make informed decisions about any future human presence on the moon," program manager Todd May told reporters earlier this week.

The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) in particular looks set to be one of NASA's most spectacular bids at discovery for years.

To seek out water ice on the moon -- a critical component for any planning for manned lunar colonies -- the probe will analyze data from ejected lunar material after the separated Centaur rocket crashes into a permanently shadowed crater, on the dark side of the moon that never sees sunshine.

After examining the moon matter, the kamikaze explorer will follow the rocket's lead by also hurling itself into the moon at approximately 1.55 miles per second (2.5 kilometers per second) -- some 5,580 mph (9,000 km/h).

In total, NASA said, the two impacts will excavate some 500 metric tons of lunar material and begin the search for a long-frozen water source and examine the moon's mineral makeup.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, hopes to push learn more about the moon through a one-year stay at an orbit of about 31 miles (50 kilometers) -- the closest any spacecraft has continually orbited.

LRO's 500-million-dollar mission is designed to provide NASA with maps of unprecedented accuracy, which will be crucial for scoping out possible landing sites.

Both missions, May said, will help NASA model the nuances of lunar lighting and temperature range, and provide future moon travelers with information on the cosmic radiation the moon is exposed to due to its lack of atmosphere.

The probes' four-day, 238,000 mile (384,000 km) return to the moon 40 years after humans first set foot on its surface is expected to illuminate our closest extra-terrestrial neighbor like never before.

"Earth is subject to erosion processes from air and water," noted May. "The moon itself doesn't have this process... LRO will send back pictures daily on things we have barely seen before."

Hopes for the ambitious exploration of the moon and later Mars were dampened Wednesday by Senator Bill Nelson, who warned of grounded missions because of "unrealistic" funds allocated to NASA.

Nelson, a former space shuttle astronaut, told the first public meeting of the Review of US Human Space Flight Plans Committee in Washington that "NASA simply can't do the job it's been given" to return to the moon.

Inadequate funding, he said, "has led us to the point where we are now: with a space shuttle that's going to shut down but without the new rocket developed in time to pick up where the shuttle leaves off."

When Obama unveiled the federal budget last month, he ordered a review of the problem-plagued, budget-busting rocket that NASA hopes will be on launch pads by 2015 to replace its shuttle fleet, due to be retired next year.

The cost of the next-generation rocket has ballooned from an initial 28 billion dollars to about 44 billion due to technical troubles and cost overruns.


Premium Supporter
Apr 28, 2009
this universe?

how many universes you got?

parallel universes are like the hottest thing since gyroscopic stabilization systems and tachyon extrapolators
Apr 2, 2009
So how long until we send an astronaut to Mars?

i think it depends on how fast countries like japan/china/etc can start making plans to reach mars. if nobody steps up to get there before us, we won't see mars in our lifetime imo