Ad Astra
Volume 14, Number 4 July/August 2002

Launch Pad

We've Got News!
By Kirby Ikin

The National Space Society is joining with the SETI Institute as a major sponsor of the Mars exploration research program at the NASA Haughton-Mars Project for the year 2002 (HMP-2002). The logo of the National Space Society will be included on the advanced planetary exploration concept spacesuit anticipated to be used in field tests during the HMP-2002 summer field season on Devon Island, Canadian High Arctic, and, to the extent possible, on mobile vehicles that will be used during the field season to support studies of Mars surface research activities. In addition, the National Space Society flag will be flown at the HMP Base Camp during the entire operational duration of the HMP-2002 summer field season.

This project is in direct support of the NSS Mission: “To promote social, economic, technological, and political change, to advance the day when humans will live and work in space.” It addresses a number of the Barriers to Space Settlement identified by NSS, including technology for life support and current lack of public interest.

The NASA Haughton-Mars Project
The NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) ( is an international interdisciplinary field research project centered on the scientific study of the Haughton impact crater and surrounding terrains, Devon Island, Nunavut, Arctic Canada, viewed as a possible Mars analog. The rocky polar desert setting, geologic features and biological attributes of the site offer unique insights into the evolution of Mars, the effects of impacts on Earth and other planets, and the possibilities of life in extreme environments. The opportunity of scientific field studies at Haughton is also used to support studies in exploration research, to investigate the technologies, strategies, human factors and hardware designs relevant to the future exploration of Mars and other planetary bodies by robots and humans. HMP-2002 will be the 6th field season of the HMP. The HMP is managed by the SETI Institute at the institute’s Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. Dr. Pascal Lee, principal investigator at the SETI Institute, is Project Lead and Principal Investigator (HMP PI) of the NASA Haughton-Mars Project, which is run under Cooperative Agreement with NASA.

The SETI Institute
The SETI Institute ( was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit California corporation on 20 November 1984. The purpose of the Institute, as defined at that time and still true today, is to conduct scientific research and educational projects relevant to the origin, nature, prevalence, and distribution of life in the universe. This work includes two primary research areas: 1) SETI, and 2) Life in the Universe research. Concurrent with its research focus, the Institute strives to contribute to both formal and informal science education related to these fields of interest. Over its seventeen-year history, the Institute has administered over $150 million of funded research.
Kirby Ikin

The Space Transportation Imperative
By Frank Sietzen, Jr.

We need a better lift to space. No pun intended. And it’s time the nation made that commitment. Consider this: right now, NASA plans to spend $4.8 billion to develop designs for a new, fully reusable launcher than would follow today’s space shuttles. The Air Force is proposing to spend an additional $2.6 billion to design something called the Space Maneuver Vehicle. That’s a combined total of $7.4 billion. No funds have been planned to build the vehicles that the designers will recommend.

How much is that likely to be? Perhaps $16-$20 billion or more. Not one dime has been allocated to construct these future spaceships, craft which everyone says will be vitally needed in the decades to come to provide access to space for all civil, military, and yes commercial cargoes. Cargoes like satellites, experiments, research craft—and people. In Washington, we’re in denial that these billions will ultimately be needed to build these follow-on launchers. But it is time that the administration made the commitment—a national goal if you will—to actually build a new generation of spaceships. And start planning how to pay for them, in the 2006-2010 time frame.

We’ve had enough viewgraph engineering over the years. Now it’s time to start bending metal!

Ad Astra America!

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