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Uncommonly Sensible

Keeping the "anal" in analytical... (While trying to remain civilized)

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

To the moon!

Boeing was selected to provide its recommendations on lunar habitats as part of a six-month study for NASA. NASA's Constellation Program is getting to work on the new spacecraft that will return humans to the moon and blaze a trail to Mars and beyond. This artist's rendering represents a concept of a lunar lander. lunar rover and astronauts on the moon's surface.
[NASA photo]

An official Boeing update:

Boeing will be sharing its recommendations with NASA on lunar habitation elements as part of a study contract awarded Monday.

NASA had issued a broad agency announcement on April 29 for studies in six different areas in support of lunar surface systems. Lunar surface systems may include habitats, pressurized and un-pressurized rovers, communication and navigation elements, electrical power control, and natural resource use.

Under the six-month study contract, Boeing will provide recommendations on a minimum functionality habitation element to sustain humans on the moon, which was one of the six areas.

NASA will distribute approximately $2 million for the study contracts to 12 different companies and the maximum amount for each study area is limited to $250,000.

Boeing's contract, performed by Advanced Systems, will be approximately $220,000.

"These studies provide new ideas to help the Constellation Program develop innovative, reliable requirements for the systems that will be used when outposts are established on the moon," said Jeff Hanley, the Constellation program manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Dallas Bienhoff, manager of In-space & Surface Systems, says he is excited about the study because it allows Boeing to help craft our nation's future space program. "NASA will also use our study to form the foundation of the infrastructure and support systems that are needed on the moon," said Bienhoff. "It is important to our overall business strategy to bring innovative ideas and expertise to NASA to help define the future requirements for lunar systems."

"Although small in dollar value, these study contracts allow Boeing's Advanced Systems division to bring the best and brightest ideas from across the company to NASA," said Steve Johnston, director of Advanced Space Exploration.

Boeing coupled its space shuttle and International Space Station experience with Advanced Systems' innovation for the habitat proposal.

"We have put together a team across the space station suppliers, entrepreneurs, and academia to provide an innovative approach to define a minimum functionality habitat. We are not just bringing the same old set of human space solutions, but are looking forward," said Bienhoff. NASA was impressed with Boeing's innovative approach, according to Bienhoff.

NASA will use the results to help establish the minimum set of requirements for the Altair lunar module and the starting point for defining an operable habitat that NASA will provide on the moon.

Bienhoff, who has been with the company since 1974, has supported all of the advanced space exploration architecture studies since 1982, working on programs such as the X-33, space station program, and the space shuttle main engines.

"I have traveled the universe in science fiction since I was a kid, but this time we get to do it for real. We need to be living on the moon and the planets. Who knows what we can do when we go back to the moon and maybe we can make it available for the masses instead of only a few," he said.

The other selected companies performing studies include Astrobotic Technology Inc., ATK Space Systems Group, Battelle Memorial Institute, The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc., Hamilton Sundstrand, Honeybee Robotics, Honeywell International Inc., ILC Dover, Oceaneering Space Systems, University of Maryland and United Space Alliance.

The recommendations from the studies will help determine packaging options, identify basic functions for lunar habitats, provide innovative avionics architectures and sparing approaches, compare alternative software architectures, assess energy storage ideas and evaluate equipment and techniques for handling lunar soil that could help preparation for the lunar outpost site.

NASA's Constellation Program is building the nation's next generation fleet of spacecraft - including the Ares I and Ares V rockets, the Orion crew capsule, the Altair lunar lander and lunar surface systems - to send humans beyond low Earth orbit and back to the moon.

NASA plans to establish a human outpost on the moon through a successive series of lunar missions beginning in 2020.

Of course, $220K is as nothing to Boeing.

The big money will be in the actual R&D and building the things.

Now, on a less serious note:



Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Verrry Interesting! Sounds cool. Hope you get to play a part in it.

(:D) Best regards...

August 11, 2008 8:14 AM  
Blogger Ms RightWing's Ink said...

I hop this time we really do go to the moon. :-)

I hope you have your fingerprints on this so you can say at least part of you went to the moon.

Riding the craters in a Harley. Hmmm

August 11, 2008 8:29 AM  
Blogger Ms RightWing's Ink said...

Duh, I hope............

August 11, 2008 8:30 AM  
Blogger Nylecoj said...

Partnering with the private sector is an excellent idea likely to lead, as your article says, to much more innovative ideas. I like it. I would like to go to the moon myself, but not like Alice Kramden!

August 11, 2008 10:54 AM  
Blogger Bunny said...

BANG! ZOOM!!, indeed! Alice Kramden spent more time on the Moon than any other human thus far.
They've been playing reruns of the "Honeymooners" episodes on WGN-TV [avail. locally in Chicago and on many cable providers nationwide] on Sunday nights. I just indulged in two of them last night.

Boeing is part of an impressive list of consultants to this project. My niece's husband is, himself, an engineer with Draper Labs at MIT in Cambridge, MA. I don't know if he will have any involvement in this NASA project.

August 11, 2008 10:58 AM  
Blogger mig said...

Now I have that Steve Martin King Tut Song in my head. A condo made of stona... connection? I went from Living on the Moon, to Condos and then the obvious jump to Steve Martin. Sorry camojack. The mind is a terrible thing ...

August 11, 2008 3:16 PM  
Blogger camojack said...

I doubt if I'll get to work on it; after all, Boeing is a BIG company, with lots of divisions.

Ms RightWing:
Do you think that we didn't really go to the Moon before?

Riding craters in a Harley is an interesting idea. Impractical, but interesting. ;-)

It might be a blast (sorry!) to go to the Moon. However, based upon what I've been hearing about the upcoming trips to just the edge of space that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, I doubt if it'll ever be affordable to most civilians...or that I'll ever be a mission specialist whose fare will be paid by the government.

Alice Kramden would have spent more time there if Ralph Kramden ever made good on his recurring threat, especially if she were to be discovered as in the cartoon.

It would've taken quite a hit, of course.

Well, one possibility under consideration is mixing concrete from materials acquired on the Moon itself, so a "condo made of stone-a" actually isn't far-fetched. Therefore your jump to the Steve Martin bit wasn't an unreasonable one...

August 12, 2008 8:09 AM  
Blogger boberin said...

Now there's a job I'm jealous of...dreaming of what's needed and how to make that happen on the moon. Way cool!

Missed you Saturday but I understand!

August 13, 2008 8:45 AM  
Blogger benning said...

It's taken long enough to get back to the Moon. 'Bout bloody time!

They should be planning on setting up habitats within the walls of the largest craters. Dig in and seal the walls. Safe from stray meteorites and solar radiation.

Not only safer than building free-standing habitats, but cheaper, too. Also a way to start mining.

Go, Boeing!

August 14, 2008 8:03 AM  
Blogger Ms RightWing's Ink said...


Well, I always did believe and likely still do, but why did we never pursue lunar trips after that?

We certainly have the technology to do it again. I'm not a doubter, but I don't spend a lot of time trying to figure it out either.

August 14, 2008 8:39 PM  
Blogger camojack said...

It does sound like an interesting job, doesn't it?

Way cool indeed.

It has taken a long time...and we're not there yet. First we have to produce a suitable replacement for the Space Shuttles, which are scheduled to be decommissioned in a few years.

Your idea about building within the walls of the craters is good.

Ms RightWing:
As for why we never pursued lunar trips after first going there decades ago, we've been concentrating on the space closer to Earth with the Space Shuttles, the Hubble Telescope, the International Space Station, all kinds of satellites (like the GPS array), etc. Things that are considered more useful.

The idea for going to the Moon now is to establish a forward outpost from which to go farther out, to Mars, the Asteroid Belt and beyond...


Saw that comin', didn't you?

August 14, 2008 10:24 PM  

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