“Shadow on the Moon”

Lesher, Charles Lee
“Shadow on the Moon”
Writers Cramp Publishers
ISBN13: 978-0-977-72356-0
Author’s Web Site
Out of the Cradle Review

Librarian’s Note: In between editing the Moon Society’s periodical of Lunar and High Frontier fiction, Moonbeams, Chuck has been working on the sequel to his previous book “Evolution’s Child”, set in the Republic of Luna later this century, and giving things a once over. In “Shadow on the Moon”, we get both stories, the revamped “Evolution’s Child” and the new “Revelation’s Child”, in which the religious schisms of Earth try to carry their struggle to the Moon. The folks on the Moon aren’t necessarily inclined to participate.

Moon Day – The Sophomore Edition

Howdy everyone! Things are finally starting to gel for Moon Day, and we finally have the splash and the event details up at the Frontiers of Flight Museum website.

As with any sophomore effort, it has been rough, and there have been some big fails along the way, but it looks like things are going to turn out just fine.

My biggest fail was Richard Garriott, who had to drop out because something else came up. Coupled with not being able to get someone from UT Southwestern to speak about space medicine, that means that the ISS is basically out as a major theme of the event this year. We’re definitely going to have to start earlier on lining up speakers for next year.

That’s not to say that we don’t have a spectacular lineup for everyone.

The event itself is Sunday, July 18th, from 1-5pm at the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field in Dallas (just north of Mockingbird on Lemmon), home of the Apollo 7 capsule and a genuine Moon rock.


In the main auditorium, we’re going to start out with Neil Milburn from Armadillo Aerospace, who’s going to talk about rockets and has promised some volumific videos of tests. Neil is at 2pm, and then at 3:30 we’re going to have local Solar System Ambassador Ron DiIulio talk about the formation of asteroids and our Moon, and give away a meteorite as a door prize. We’ve got lots of other door prizes as well, but they’re a surprise.

[Auditorium Update: To help fill in the first hour of time in the auditorium we’re going to be screening the independent movie “Postcards from the Future“. Very cool]

In the upstairs classroom we’ve got the young’uns. McCartney Taylor from the Texas Meteorite Lab is going to give a talk on meteorite hunting, including thumbnails on how to pick them out from their surroundings. Again, that’s at 2pm, which allows folks whose curiosity was piqued by the after story of asteroids (like, after they hit our atmosphere and tumble to Earth) can then head into the auditorium to hear the before story, about where scientists believe they came from and how they formed. So we’ve got asteroids covered.

I’m up next in the classroom, at 3:30, to talk about “The 21st Century Moon: America’s Next Industrial Frontier” Basically, take the last couple of years worth of posts here at OotC, and digest them down to a 1 to 1.5 hour (with Q&A) session. Unfortunately, I don’t have a meteorite to give away, as I use what few I have for hands-on outreach and education purposes, and my pallasite is just too darn pretty to give away, but I do have a small yin of chaos in my big yang of order.


In the kids classroom downstairs, local Solar System Ambassador Cynthia Whisennand will be running a Toys in Space class (twice, at 2 and 3:30 to keep the balance). I’m guessing the 2pm is going to be seeing a bigger turnout, as I don’t think she has a meteorite to give away either.


So that’s the talky-talky classes. Downstairs in the Workshop DARS is going to be running a makey-makey rocket-building class, which was supposed to end in time for a 3:30 talk by Mr. Milburn from Armadillo in the upstairs classroom, but we ended up having to move Neil into the auditorium to take advantage of its awesome audio abilities, and Ron was already slotted for the later slot so that the meteorite would be given away basically at the end of the event (for effect). So that’s a tough rocket dilemma right there – build a model rocket, or go see videos about Armadillo making real rockets.

Almost forgot, upstairs in the hallway leading to the auditorium we finally have the art show up. These are various pieces I’ve accumulated over the years for the Lunar Library, many of them very nicely framed. The museum likes it so much they want to keep it up till Labor Day in September. The first piece, Earthrise, is from a private collection, and exhibited by virtue of a deal struck on a smile and a handshake at this year’s ISDC, but everything else is mine. Including all of the toys in the display case. Unlike the display of Apollo-era toys downstairs, these are all relatively recent toys that can be found in stores or on the internet. Unless you live in the U.S., in which case you can’t have the LEGO game Lunar Command (nyah nyah).

Yet. I’m sure it will be out eventually here stateside, but I wanted it for the Lunar Library, and made sure to pick up a copy while I was in France for this year’s ISU Symposium. I’m still waiting on a LEGO Lunar Electric Rover, which is what I really want. And for the next space playsets to be Moon-themed ones, but not frikkin’ Apollo-retreads, again, rather Moon Base and LER and Lunar mining playsets. And a LEGO video game, where you build stuff and solve puzzles on the Moon. C’mon LEGO Techs, it can’t be that hard! Oh, and we’ve also got the new Shuttle Adventure playset on display as well, and a plush astronaut Snoopy, and three different space Barbies (I understand there’s a fourth one I need to get to complete the collection, but do you know how stupid it feels for an early fortysomething to be buying Barbie dolls? I usually just say it’s for my goddaughter (Shout Out to Xiomara in P-town!)).

[Art Update: The Museum Director is starting to get ambitious. Now that most everything is off my walls and in the museum, he wants me to consider letting ‘Glimpses from the Future: Art from the Lunar Library’ go for a tour around the country. Buh..wha? He’s serious, though. He’s already done the catalog, and his team of educators can come up with an educator guide to accompany the exhibit. The toys won’t go, but the art will. Wow, dude, that’s heavy man. Gonna have to cogitate on that one for a bit…]

Speaking of family-friendly fun, let’s wander out to the main floor of the museum, officially the Richard W. Cree Main Exhibit Gallery. Here we have the museum’s long-term display of the Apollo 7 capsule thanks to the efforts of Walt & Dot Cunningham, as well as a Moon walk display that houses the museum’s piece of the Moon. They have some assorted other goodies as well, including the aforementioned display case of Apollo-era toys.

The main floor will be lined with tables for the various exhibitors, as well as some themed handout tables, including one I’m setting aside specifically for space commercialization efforts. The exhibitors lined up so far are:

-Armadillo Aerospace (from Caddo Mills)
-Astronaut Training Center (in North Richland Hills)
-Dallas Area Rocket Society (which launches in Frisco)
-Dallas Mars Society (meets in Plano)
-NSS of North Texas (meets in Irving)
-Solar System Ambassadors
-Spaceminers.org (from Hurst)
-Texas Astronomical Society (meets at UT Dallas)
-Texas Meteorite Lab (from Austin)
-UNT Planetarium (up in Denton, home of the excellent Recycled Books)
-UTA Planetarium (from Arlington)

We’re also going to have a vendor for math and science t-shirts, and we’re trying to get Half-Price Books to have a booth to sell their awesome selection of space books, way better than any of the bookboxes. Texas Meteorite Lab is also going to be selling meteorites.

My major exhibitor fail was SpaceX. I’d love to have them come up from McGregor for the day and show off their stuff for everyone. Never did hear back from my inquiry. I may have been a bit too pushy, and that probably ticked them off. This may have to be the kind of thing where I have to put some effort into leveraging off of my NSS and NewSpace contacts to get introduced to Elon and get to know him and see if I can get some impetus from the top for having a SpaceX display at this quirky space event each July in North Texas he’s heard about called Moon Day. Or maybe just a couple bundles of handouts.


A minor fail was Paragon SDC, which has an office down in Houston. I’d met a young gentleman at the Space Economy Leadership Summit down in Austin who thought it would be a good thing for his company to have a presence at the kind of educational outreach event we’re putting together. He did his best but it was just too short of a notice to put something together, but maybe next year. I did make sure to cc: Grant and Taber on my thank you to him. They’re both SGF and ISU, so I know that they ‘get’ it, and maybe we’ll have better luck next year. Crap, and I should have gotten in touch with Stone Aerospace down in Austin.

Most all of the exhibitors are going to have handouts, and we have boxes pouring into the museum with handouts from folks like Space Camp, Google Lunar X Prize, FAA, NASA IPP, LPI, NSS, and more.

Yours truly decided to take a chance and pre-spend my (maybe) annual bonus [Update: I did get one this year, and it was enough to cover it. Double plus good!] and I ordered up some ‘Lunar Sample Bags’ for the kids. We’ve got 250 bags, and right before the event a whole bunch of volunteers at the museum are going to stuff the bags with all of the kid-oriented materials like stickers, puzzles, posters, pins, and miscellaneous other goodies. Each kid will get one at the door, and they can add stuff as they wander through the event. It’s basically a pouch with large flap that has the printing on it. Officially, the flap says:

“Moon Day
Lunar Sample Bag

Supplied by the Lunar Library

Note that I didn’t date it, so if any are left over they can be used next year. And since I paid for them, I can put my web address on there. Such is the power of the purse.

[Update: Just saw the bags. 4All Promos did a fine job, and I think they’re going to go over well. Alert readers may have noticed that their ads seem to be popping up on space-related websites. I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection. I did get some flack at the NSS-NT chapter meeting for not offering the chapter the opportunity to underwrite the bags, which is a valid point and one I hadn’t considered, but once I’d told them how much I’d paid the consensus seemed to swing to maybe next year]


All of the rest of the handouts are going to be put out in the display area on the main floor. I want at least one commercially-themed table, but I’m thinking we’re going to have at least two or three tables worth of stuff.


Most of the exhibitors seem to be going for two tables, though TAS and DARS each want three (and DARS is maybe thinking of bringing a couple of their own). NSS of North Texas, as co-sponsor of the event, gets to have six tables and they’re all going to be packed with stuff, two each on the themes of ISS, Moon, and Asteroids. We’re going to be running our chapter raffle to raise money for our Science Fair Scholarship, so be sure to bring lots of dollar bills. Next year, three NSS-NT chapter members will be amongst the many judges at the Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair,and will award whatever monies we’ve gathered (plus a $35 administrative fee to pay for the winner’s meal at the awards luncheon) to the project that best exemplifies NSS’s goals of people living and working in space. Since it’s our money we’re giving away, we get to decide the criteria for winning, and it’s hashed out amongst the three judges as they see what kind of projects generally fit the overall theme. Even though the chapter has a very small cushion in its bank account, I insist that the project raise its own funds. This way, it’s not something we do until the chapter runs out of money.


Right now the publicity blitz is on. The museum has the splash up on their website, leading to further details, and I’m in the process of going around to libraries, bookstores, comic shops, teacher supply stores, and anyplace else I can think of that has a community bulletin board. I used to like Borders because they had a bulletin board in most of their stores, but it looks like they’ve gone the uber-corporate B&N route and yanked all of them. I’m generally finding that the smaller and locally owned businesses are much more receptive to putting up a flyer announcing the event. Also, the libraries in less-well-off neighborhoods are much more receptive than those in wealthier neighborhoods, who tend to have more of a “we have to run it through channels to get approval” mindset.

Having posted some 50 flyers around town at this point, I think the thing that most annoys me is the question “Is it free?”. No, it’s regular museum admission, but you’re getting all of this extra space goodness for one day only. Gee, it would be nice if we could find an underwriter to cover the ticket costs, but in case folks haven’t noticed the economy is a bit rough at the moment, and finding underwriting is never easy. That’s why I ended up springing for the Lunar Sample Bags, because even though we shopped it around no one grabbed at the opportunity to get their logo or website on the bags.

Sigh, everyone wants something for nothing. Seems to be pathological in this society.

I just sent around the e-mail to all of the exhibitors where we get their requirements for tables, power, special needs, &c. I also asked them to ask their members to put Moon Day into the social networking realm if they can. Next step is to put the event on all of the online event calendars, and since we’ve got an art show associated with the event I have to hit up all of the online art calendars as well. The usual methodology is to google for Dallas online event calendars and pick through the first three to five pages for the best links. Luckily I already went through that exercise last year and already have a list.

[Update: Uh, oh…publicity fail. I just got word from Space.com that my attempt to post an announcement to the ‘User Announcements’ section of their Message Boards (which was set up specifically for that purpose) like I did last year has been denied, as:

“The reported post has the only purpose to advertise for a website or another product.”

Alrighty then. FWIW, I registered my user name, ‘kadetken’ in 1998, and have kept it through 4 or 5 crash and burns of their comments database, that being the reason I post there only infrequently. I also have old articles from Ad Astra Online, which was supposed to be an online version of NSS’s member magazine (which is darn good) that NSS members would contribute to, which they didn’t, in droves. I have, IIRC, three articles up over there, which Space.com doesn’t provide you any means of accessing except through the Search function. Do I feel spurned? Oh, just a wee bit, but I’m used to it]

[Further Update: Publicity success. I’ve got the event on local online event calendars at the Dallas Morning News ‘GuideLive‘, KERA’s ‘Art & Seek‘, the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau Event Calendar, and I’m playing phone tag with the blogger at the weekly Dallas Observer. Bruce at the museum spent half an hour with a talk show guy out of Phoenix, AZ where he was able to mention the event numerous times. That’s where the social networking comes in, as everyone knows someone in or from Texas. The museum is starting to get calls from people wanting to know what’s in the Sample Bags. I’m getting one of those feelings that we may have good media coverage this year.]

So it’s all coming together nicely. I do credit the experience of co-chairing an ISDC for helping with the overall ‘systems engineering’ of putting the event together, as well as developing a lot of contacts in the space community. I’d have to credit my early years back in the 90s as a ‘community organizer’ of sorts for knowing how to work with disparate non-profit groups and serve in my community. My year at ISU certainly gave me a much deeper understanding of the space field than most, enough to get a cum laude. My work here at OotC and with the Lunar Library have certainly had their benefit, but it has taken years of work.


And now to toot my own horn, I’m going to be giving one of the talks in the upstairs classroom, at 3:30pm, on the topic of “The 21st Century Moon: America’s Next Industrial Frontier“. I’m still gestating the final structure of the talk, which is going to have to delve extensively into EML-1, but it’ll be good, trust me.

So if you can make it out to the Frontiers of Flight Museum on Sunday, July 18th from 1-5 pm, then we’d love to see you. If you can’t make it, be sure to tell your friends and colleagues. This is going to be the biggest space event in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex this year, so you don’t want to miss it!

LEGO “Shuttle Adventure”

“Shuttle Adventure”
Item 10213
Publisher’s Web Site

Librarian’s Note: Hah! The LEGO website has it listed for $99.99. I got mine at the local LEGO store for that price, and it is pretty stupendous at 1,204 pieces. The nephews are coming over this weekend to help put it together (and wishing it was for them), and then it’s going down to the Frontiers of Flight Museum to be added to the display case of modern space toys that accompanies the exhibit of Lunar art. Tune in to OotC for an update soon on the Moon Day planning.

[Update: A most excellent set, with a working robotic arm and satellite to deploy. The spring action landing gear is pretty cool, as is the cockpit area. Totally sweet. I’m still waiting on the LEGO Lunar Electric Rover, though.]

Review: “Platinum Moon”

“Platinum Moon” by Bill White. Published in 2010 by Higher Hill Publishing, it weighs in at 299 pages. A handful of editing errors – surprisingly few for a self-published title.

Just what I like, some near-future, near-Earth science fiction for summer. Some folks call it Solar Sci Fi, to distinguish stories set within our Solar system (which tend to have a slightly more ‘real’ flavor) from the galactic empire/battlefleets burning off the shoulder of Orion space opera fantasy which tends to be the norm these days.

Author Bill White sets the story at some point in the near future, where Soyouz and Shenzhous are somewhat available for purchase, but the U.S. still seems to be fixated on NASA as the end-all/be-all of space. The PGM-1 Lunar landing vehicle is in low Lunar orbit (LLO) after departing from the EML-1 Gateway station. An American ex-astronaut is at the controls, accompanied by a French and an Indian scientist, for the first human return to the Moon since 1972. Their goal: try to find chunks of asteroid remnants on the Lunar surface that could serve as a source of platinum for an energy-hungry Earth.

The enterprise is directed by one Harold Hewitt through his company Lunar Materials LLC (LuMat). Part D.D. Harriman, part P.T. Barnum, and all-entrepreneur-all-the-time, Harold Hewitt is an American citizen who has made more than a few enemies back home in his global scramble to assemble the pieces for his enterprise, and some of those enemies are in government. Nevertheless, across the globe people celebrate as humanity renews its path outward.

While venal politicians plot to thwart Hewitt’s efforts, an obligatory problem with the PGM-1 sets the stage for drama as now the crew is stuck on the Moon, destined to die a slow death as the oxygen is slowly consumed. Hewitt scrambles to not only try to figure out what happened on the Moon so it doesn’t happen again, but also what elements exist to try to cobble together a rescue mission to save the enterprise from the ignominy of losing its first crew on the Lunar surface.

And so the stage is set for thrilling international drama on both the Moon and Earth. The story is draped not only in NewSpace commercial finery, but also is endowed with new space concepts like international efforts and EML-1. Which is not necessarily a new idea, but scientists are coming to an increasing appreciation of just how much of a gift the 1st Earth-Moon Lagrange point is not only for cislunar space activities, but also trans-Lunar exploration efforts. Here, the author has done his homework, creating an architecture where there is a station, of sorts, in a halo orbit at EML-1 that serves as the logistics node for Hewitt’s efforts, as well as a comm sat in a large halo orbit around EML-2, on the other side of the Moon, that serves as a communication relay. For those who are all like EML-huh?, I suggest a trip over to the High Frontier section of the Lunar Library, where I’ve got a category set aside just for papers and books on the topic called HF EML-1. I suggest starting with ‘a sort of L-1 primer‘ by some guy Ken.

From the Time-Life book “Spacefarers

There is also a sub-story on what might be considered something akin to a suborbital Rocket Racing League that involves the Dark Skies Flying Circus, and a young woman pilot with much potential, nicknamed ‘Frog’. Her story interleaves with the dramatic events unfolding on and near the Moon, and provides one of the many perspectives on what’s happening. It also fills out the book’s NewSpace creds by rightly pointing out the suborbital hops are going to space too (and could lead to something more).

All-in-all some nice summer reading, with a relatively brisk pace but long enough that it doesn’t go too quick. The character development may not be Hugo-esque in scope, but it’s adequate for the purpose. It introduces a lot of hardware, like Centaurs and Fregats, and describes how a few simple elements, like Bigelow Nautilus inflatables and Block D modules, can start us on the path that will carry us not only to the Moon, but to the asteroids and beyond. Propellant depots at EML-1 will enable all kinds of commercial activity the likes of which we can’t imagine, but will benefit therefrom nonetheless.

It’s just the sort of story I’ve been looking for, about the kinds of things we could be doing in space, but aren’t, at least for the moment. I rather enjoyed it, so I’m going to rate this one a Full Moon.

Review: “Soviet and Russian Lunar Exploration”

“Soviet and Russian Lunar Exploration” by Brian Harvey. Published in 2007 by Springer/Praxis, it weighs in at 317 pages all in. One or two minor editing errors. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the Russian details.

Most everyone knows about Apollo. There has been an endless stream of books published since that august achievement all those decades ago, and the Moon and Apollo are thoroughly intertwined in the American mythos. Less is known about Soviet efforts in that same timeframe, given the secretive and paranoid nature of that regime, and has mostly come out in dribs and drabs over the years through a variety of often surprising means. The definitive treatise on these efforts is most likely Asif Siddiqi’s “Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race, 1945 – 1974“, but its dense 1011 pages and scholarly tone make it a challenge for most.

A much more accessible primer on Soviet, and now Russian, Lunar efforts is definitely Harvey’s “Soviet and Russian Lunar Exploration”, which also fills in the post 1974 years. It’s lavishly illustrated with B&W images, tables and maps, and is a veritable who’s who of names both familiar and previously unheard, and some of the Russian acronyms are finally explained.

The story begins with a story published in Pionerskaya Pravda, a one-time Soviet youth indoctrination magazine, in October 1951. Written by a veteran of the first round of rocket enthusiasm in the 1920s and ’30s, Mikhail Tikhonravov outlined a trip to the Moon in a 1,000 tonne rocket that could be achieved within 10 to 15 years (or so he asserted). This led to an invitation to contribute to the Great Scientific Encyclopedia. He was posted at the Nauchno Issledovatelsky Institut #4 (NII-4, or Scientific Research Institut 4), which had no formal connection with the Opytno Konstrucktorskoye Buro #1 (OKB-1, or Experimental Design Bureau 1) (at least in the early years) but certainly had informal relations. It was at OKB-1 that Sergei Korolev, the Glavnykonstrucktor or Chief Designer of Soviet space efforts, headed their efforts in space exploration. More familiar names like Mstislav Keldysh and Valentin Glushko are introduced. The events and circumstances that shaped the early years are described, and how Tikhonravov became the father of the Soviet Moon programme, as well as rocket efforts up to 1957.

The next chapter looks at the first Moon probes. It offers frequent reminders that the early U.S. rockets were not the only ones to blow up on an irregular basis, but as with the U.S. programmes the use of telemetry allowed the failures to move higher up the rockets, and the Soviets were soon racking up first after first, and conducting a serious scientific programme in the process, like learning of the Solar wind. Their Cosmic Ships flew within 6,000 km of the Moon and impacted in Palus Putredinis. Their Automatic Interplanetary Station provided the first images of the Lunar farside, giving the Soviets first dibs on naming farside features.

In the third chapter we learn of early plans for a Moon landing, as the Soviets under Korolev’s guidance looked at ways to make their systems extensible to Lunar efforts. In the late 1950s and early ’60s Soviet efforts were focused primarily on Korabl Sputnik (Fellow Traveler Spacecraft) and Vostok, which was succeeded by Soyouz, which is used to this day. From the beginning the Soyouz complex was designed to be applied to Lunar efforts, and if Space Adventures can find another $100Mn passenger there will be an around the Moon flight in the not too distant future in a Soyouz capsule. Even as the engineers toiled at solving complicated hardware problems, other forces like geopolitics were at work, thereby complicating the task, and so it wasn’t until late 1966 that the Soviets came to a consensus on a plan to reach the Moon.

Just as the U.S. evolved from Pioneer flybys to Ranger impactors to Surveyor soft landings, so too did the Soviets evolve to a soft lander, although their engineering approach was quite different. Where the American Surveyors were gangly and a bit awkward looking, the Lunas were egg-shaped with petals that folded out. Rocket development efforts continued, and Lunas 4-6 proved problematic as well, but with Zond 3 the Soviets were able to fill out their farside maps. Lunas 7 and 8 had issues near the Moon, and it was about this time that the Soviet space program suffered a crippling blow, the death of their Chief Designer, Sergei Korolev. This seemed to redouble the efforts of the engineers, and the last two landers, Lunas 9 and 13, were successes. The next Lunas were devoted to working out the mechanics of Lunar orbit for eventual crewed missions (oh who am I kidding, they were going to be manned missions). Luna 10 announced the first arrival in Lunar orbit with a broadcast of the Internationale. Luna 11 had issues, but Luna 12 continued the mapping efforts and the list of potential landing sites was narrowed down. Luna 14 did some communications tests, and so the groundwork was laid for a crewed trip to the Moon.


Chapter five lays out the basic architecture of how the Soviets were going to fly around and land their cosmonauts on the Moon.
-The Universal Rocket – 500 (UR-500) would eventually become the Proton rocket, used to this day to deliver cargo to orbit. While considered rather reliable today, it did suffer many teething pains and had 14 failures in its first 29 launches.
-The L-1 Lunar orbiter, or Zond (probe), which led to confusion in the West with the previous probes that had flown to Venus, Mars and the Moon. These would carries the Soviet’s first computer, the Argon, on a spacecraft. It is described as a stripped down Soyouz.

Together, these two would provide the around-the-Moon part of the program.

-The other rocket to be used was Korolev’s N-1 rocket, which in 1960 could theoretically deliver 50 tonnes into Earth orbit, although the Lunar program would call for 95, leading to an upsizing in the number of rocket motors at the end of 1964. There’s speculation that Korolev had a more distant destination in mind when designing the rocket, and the hectic pace of the Apollo program may have contributed to the cutting of some corners. Suffice it to say that the N-1s had a 100% fail rate.
-The Luniy Orbitalny Korabl (LOK, or Lunar Orbital Spacecraft), which had many similarities to the Apollo Command & Service Module, and would remain in orbit and provide the return craft. It is described as a beefed-up Soyouz.
-The Luniy Korabl (LK, or Lunar Spacecraft) lander which would descend to the surface.

Together, these would provide the Lunar landing part of the program.

Also described are the Soviet spacesuits and communications network, as well as the many cosmonauts who would undergo training for these missions.

Chapter six tells of the the race before the race to be the first to land on the Moon, the race to be the first to fly humans around the Moon. The Soviets sent turtles and such on the Zond 5 as the first emissaries of Earth’s ecosystem to travel beyond the orbit of the Moon and return, followed soon thereafter by Zond 6, which awakened the Western press to how far along the Soviet efforts were. Still, the Proton rocket was proving fickle and difficult, and so to this day people around the world remember the Earthrise photo from Apollo 8 as the souvenir picture from the first flight around the Moon. This took the wind out of the sails of the Zond program, though both it and the N-1 rocket program continued to be funded. Renewed vigor was put into robotic probes. The Lunokhod (Moonwalker) series would rove the Moon to conduct its research. Luna 15 would provide an automated sample return mission, possibly before Apollo 11. But problems continued with the development of the N-1 rocket, and the Zond program was being wound down, though Zond 7 did fly. Political maneuverings led to the end of the N-1 program, and Soviet efforts shifted to space stations as the focus of their space efforts.


While American Lunar efforts quickly wound down after the Apollo program as scientists retired to their labs to digest and cogitate on what they had learned, the Soviets, on the contrary, continued their robotic efforts. While Luna 15 failed, Luna 16 did not and returned samples, all of 105 grams. Luna 17 delivered the first Lunokhod rover to the surface, and the world got its first taste of virtual near-real-time travel on another world. The mission lasted from 17/11/1970 to 04/10/1971, nearly a full year of results from traveling some 10.5 km across the Lunar surface. Towards the end of Luna 17s mission, Luna 18 was dispatched, but crashed into the Moon. Luna 20 soon followed, and would provide the Soviets their second sample return from the Moon, while Luna 21 delivered the next Lunokhod to the Moon in January 1973. Luna 19, in 1971, provided orbital imagery and data on sites of interest, as did Luna 22 in 1974, orbiting the Moon at the time of a joint Soviet/American Lunar conference. Luna 23 had landing issues in late 1974, and it wasn’t until the summer of 1976 that Luna 24 landed near Fahrenheit crater to provide the Soviets with their third sample return, of a much heftier 170 grams. And with that triumph, the Soviet Lunar program began to wind down. They proclaimed the 1970s ‘the decade of of the space robot’, and both Soviet and American scientists seemed to embrace the concept wholeheartedly, with a slew of missions to many of the planets.

The last chapter looks at some of the concepts that the Soviets studied in the late 1960s and early ’70s like Galaktika and Zvezda. Some interest was expressed by Soviet scientists in the 1980s and ’90s for a Lunar polar orbiter, but nothing ever materialized. In the first decade of the 21st century a Luna Glob mission was studied by the Russians, but to this day Russia has yet to return to the Moon, but running the most reliable crewed transport to LEO system in the world is a pretty big job, and luckily the Russians haven’t figured out yet that the wealth they’re acquiring from their natural resources should be invested in securing access to off-Earth natural resources. Unfortunately we Americans haven’t figured that out yet either, although the Chinese are certainly talking about it in the long run (though for the Chinese the word long can mean really looooong, like decades). Japan has always had issues with natural resources, energy resources in particular, which is probably why they seem to be focusing a bit more on solar power from space.

The book is rounded out with a list of all of the Soviet Moon probes, and where they are now. While each of the chapters is thoroughly footnoted, there’s a bibliographic note that covers some of the more authoritative sources, followed by a five page bibliography. Last up is the index. The only thing I can think of that I would ask for would be a short Russian-English glossary as well.

Overall, I’m very impressed with this book. It’s comprehensive, but not fluffy. The exposition is geared towards conveying facts and information, and it just pours out. I’d say written at about the undergrad level, it would be ideal for a course that covers governmental efforts to go to our Moon. While dense, I can see where it would be interesting to a broader audience interested in our Moon and curious about efforts other than Apollo. It provides a lot of detail on the scientific aspects of the missions, and provides many engineering details to chew on.

A must-read introduction for scholars in the field, as well as historians interested in what was happening on the other side of the Iron Curtain in space activities. For researchers it provides an extensive bibliography, and for others a gripping tale from a different perspective on the race to the Moon. I wholeheartedly give this one a Full Moon rating.

See Also:

Encyclopædia Astronautica
Russian Space Web
Guide to Russia
CIA: The Soviet Space Research Program [1959] (pdf)
The Zarya Diaries
FAS Russian and Soviet Space Guide
FAS Soviet Manned Lunar Program
NSSDC Soviet Lunar Missions
Soviet Web Space

“Analog Science Fiction and Fact – Special Double Issue”


Analog Science Fiction and Fact
Special Double Issue
Dell Magazines
Jul/Aug 2010
ISSN: 1059-2113
Publisher’s Web Site

Librarian’s Note: Contains four, count ’em four! Moon-related items in this issue:
-‘A Rondel for Apollo 11’ by Geoffrey A. Landis, a poem that reminds us to look to the future
-‘The Long Way Around’ by Carl Frederick, a short story about a clever application of Aussie hopping technology on the Moon
-‘The Single Larry Ti, or Fear of Black Holes and Ken’ by Brenda Cooper, which reminds us that some research might best be conducted on the Moon or elsewhere like an asteroid
-‘Fly Me to the Moon’ by Marianne Dyson, a good friend of the Lunar Library and fellow NSS member, who provides a touching near-future tale of the last Moonwalker, who helps rescue some Lunar visitors despite the mental cage of Alzheimer’s disease (which is also touched upon in the movie ‘Postcards from the Future‘). There’s a clever use of nautical miles, and Ms. Dyson clues us in on what will be an increasingly important role in our technological society, that of Knowledge Capture.

The only thing I didn’t like were the two editing errors in ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, but that’s on Dell Magazines, not Ms. Dyson, who has provided us with a wonderful story.

“The Future of Commercial Space Travel”


Horwitz, Daniella
“The Future of Commercial Space Travel”
Airline Fleet Management
pp. 10-15
Publisher’s Web Site
On-Line Text

Librarian’s Note: One of the trade journals I get at work (since I used to be involved in aircraft finance), this article focuses primarily on Virgin Galactic, and keeps its eye on the finance side of things. It explores the various potential markets and provides a spectrum of opinions, not necessarily cheerleading Virgin, but not pasztorizing them either. Worth a view if you’re a VG fan or want to participate in the Space Ambassadors program.

Carnival of Space #157: The 2010 ISDC Round-Up Edition

Welcome everyone to this, the spectacular 157th Carnival of Space. I’m Ken, the Lunar Librarian here at Out of the Cradle, and I’ll be your host as we enter into the fourth year’s worth of weekly space commentary on a galaxy of topics.

The tradition here at OotC is to start at Earth and work our way outwards. The big news in human spaceflight advocacy circles was the 29th annual NSS International Space Development Conference held over the Memorial Day weekend in Chicago. Rapidly becoming THE forum for civil spaceflight, it covers everything from business to science. Below is a round-up of ISDC 2010 news from around the blogosphere:

The Twitter feed can be found at: http://twitter.com/search?q=%23isdc2010 and http://twitter.com/search?q=%23isdc

2010 Int. Space Development Conference now underway – Hobbyspace.com

ISDC has a strong NewSpace flavor this year – NewSpace Journal

Space Adventures returns to suborbital spaceflight – NewSpace Journal

ISDC 2010: John Carmack and Eric Anderson – Space Prizes

ISDC 2010 – Anderson/Carmack, Diamandis, Homans – Hobbyspace.com

ISDC 2010: Peter Diamandis – Space Prizes

ISDC 2010: Masten Space, PlanetSpace, NewSpace biz strategy; COTS update – Hobbyspace.com

ISDC 2010: Friday morning – XCOR presentation – Hobbyspace.com

XCOR on a Roll – Parabolic Arc

Bigelow on commercial crew and NASA’s interest in inflatables – NewSpace Journal

Another Customer for Commercial Crew Transportation – Technology Review

Greason: Congressional Debate on NASA’s Future Must Be Based on Facts – Parabolic Arc

ISDC 2010: Collicott – suborbital research; Greason – Augustine panel – Hobbyspace.com

KSC Scores at ISDC – Leadership in the Twenty First Century

“Shame on you, Charles Bolden!” – SpacePolitics.com

Is a circumlunar mission in NASA’s plans? – SpacePolitics.com

ISDC 2010: Friday evening – Bolden speech – Hobbyspace.com

More on PETA, Bolden, and ISDC – SpacePolitics.com

Return to the Planet of the Apes – The Space Review

Debating the Future of NASA – Technology Review

‘Rallying the Troops’ – Space Politics

ISDC 2010: Saturday – NewSpace panel, Garver, Pace – Hobbyspace.com

The other great debate – SpacePolitics.com

ISDC 2010: Schweickart vs Zubrin debate – Hobbyspace.com

Dr. Robert Zubrin talks Mars: SpacePod 2010.06.08 – SpaceVidCast.com

The Radiation Exposure Numbers Game – QuantumG blog

ISDC 2010: Whitesides, Nuclear propulsion, Buzz Aldrin – Hobbyspace.com

Julia Kay Rhodes Singing “REACHING FOR THE MOON” at ISDC Governors Dinner

Buzz Aldrin speaks at the ISDC Governors Dinner

ISDC 2010: Affordable Moon Exploration Style – Space Prizes

Richard Garriott talks space toilets: SpacePod 2010.05.31 – SpaceVidCast.com

Blinded by the light – The Space Review

Rockets and rhetoric in Chicago – The Space Review

Harvesting Energy From Space – Dr. APJ Abdulkalam

Students invited to global space development meet – The Hindu

ISDC Tweets – QuantumG’s Blog

In a special feature, Dr. Bruce Cordell talks about the Sunday dinner speaker, Dr. Freeman Dyson, whose genius extends to many areas. Dr. Dyson touched on a number of cosmic themes, which you can read about in “Freeman Dyson on What To Do Next in Space: Laser propulsion? Terraforming? Thinking Long-Term?

And OotC’s coverage can be found here.

Still here on Earth, Bruce over at Weird Sciences posits some interesting speculation regarding the nature of those that some believe are visiting us in How Much Aliens Fit With UFOs? Might it be that they’re not so alien after all?

Getting from Earth to orbit is the job of rockets right at the moment, and there is certainly a plethora of activity going on. Over at collectSPACE, Robert gives us the lowdown on the Earth-to-orbit achievements of a Shuttle that just took its last flight (?) in The legacy of space shuttle Atlantis.

Meanwhile, over at the ironically but appropriately named Next Big Future, Brian proclaims SpaceX has Successfully Launched Falcon 9, Falcon 9 is in orbit.

Once in orbit, it’s always nice to have a place to stop over, catch your breath, maybe give things a once over before heading out trans-LEO. Over at Habitation Intention (certainly a motivation of NSS), Daniel explores some of the philosophy underlying support and use of the ISS in The Spirit of the ISS: International Cooperation in Space.


One thing that’s helpful to have when one is traveling in space is a spacesuit. There are a variety of models, so the San Diego chapter of NSS, the San Diego Space Society, is hosting “Spacesuits 101: What to wear in Space” presented by Molly McCormick, a Biomechanical engineer at Orbital Outfitters. It will be at the Serra Mesa Branch Library on Aero Dr. in San Diego, CA on Sunday, June 13 from 14:30-16:30. This talk is open to the public at no charge. However, the topic may cover the effects of a vacuum or near vacuum on the human body, which might be scary for younger children.

If you’re in the neighborhood, go check it out!

While there will always be a passionate core of amateur astronomers, a pastime that is finding increasing popularity is satellite spotting. At the ISDC a bunch of folks went to the top of the parking garage to try to spot the X-37B passing overhead, and now that the TLEs are up for the Falcon 9 launch, people can try to spot the Dragon test model. Heavens Above has always been my reference site of choice, and is widely recognized as the go-to place on the web for ISS spotting info.

Now that more folks are trying to spot various satellites, they’re also trying to take pictures of them. Dave over at AstroGuyz gives a us a ‘How-to’ piece on a low-tech method for imaging satellites in Imaging Satellites: A Low-Tech Method. It’s a clever set-up, and has resulted in some cool images.


One object that is certain to be of interest is the IKAROS solar sail. This is not the first attempt by The Planetary Society to launch a Solar sail, but it looks like things are going well this time around, and Emily gives us the scoop (of sunshine):

Lou Friedman in Japan: IKAROS sail deployment proceeding
Lou Friedman in Japan: Taking things slowly with IKAROS sail deployment
IKAROS sail deployment delayed until at least Tuesday
IKAROS update: rotation rate inexplicably increasing
IKAROS team proceeds with final stage of sail deployment!

Most folks don’t realize it, but in the original story of “The Planet of the Apes” by Pierre Boulle, the story opens with a couple lazily drifting through the Solar system in a Solar sail yacht. I’ve wanted one ever since.

Moving further out into space, we come to our sister in space, our Moon.

PBS has launched a “Moon Museum” in support of their upcoming June 21st 9-10pm EST episode of HISTORY DETECTIVES that tracks the mystery of some artworks carried to the Moon by the Apollo missions, “Satelloon,” or the mylar mystery, and “Space Boot,” about what may have been an early NASA prototype.

Watch the full episode. See more History Detectives.

Back over at Next Big Future, Brian takes a look at some plans whereby Japan’s Shimizu Corporation Proposes Solar Power MegaProject for the Moon. Not the first time Solar power beaming from the Moon has been proposed [q.v. Criswell, Lunar Solar Power Resources], but at this stage of the game it pays to keep an open mind.


Author Bill White has just published Platinum Moon, a tale of “International intrigue, adventure and suspense wrapped around a moon landing.” You can expect a review here at OotC in the not too distant future, as Bill has graciously donated a copy to the Lunar Library.

Looking Sunward (but not too closely), Allen over at Urban Astronomer answers the question of How can I safely look at the Sun? This is no joking matter, and should be taught to kids as soon as they can get their hands on optics. Here in North Texas, we always let the experts at the Texas Astronomical Society handle displays of Solar telescopes, because it is pretty cool to look at the Sun – through a properly filtered instrument.

Meanwhile, back out to Mars, the rovers are still plugging away, and Stuart over at Road to Endeavour gives us an interesting update on the current navigation strategy for Mars in Where are we – and where are we going..?

Traveling further out, to the Asteroid Belt, Bruce over at Weird Sciences takes a closer look at the threat of impact, largely in the context of the main belt asteroids, in Asteroid Impact: How Hazardous It Is?

The biggest news in planetary sciences at the moment is the startling results from the Cassini mission regarding Titan. Steinn takes a pause from herding cats over at Dynamics of Cats and gives us the low-down on Hydrocarbon Eating Aliens. Adam over at CrowlSpace proclaims Life on Titan!, and notes that we’re going to need better engines if we’re going to go check it out. And Brian over at Next Big Future notes that NASA Cassini Finds Two Potential Life Signatures from the moon Titan. Europa may have just been bumped from the position of vacation destination of choice for astrobiologists.

Moving now beyond our Solar system we travel into the endless reaches of infinity. Lots of big physics happens out there, so let’s buckle up and go see what awaits us…

Paul over at Centauri Dreams tells us about plans for a virtual interstellar voyage to be undertaken by the folks at Project Icarus in real time in vIcarus: Interstellar Mission in Cyberspace. It recounts plans to create a digital version of the Project Icarus interstellar probe design and fly the mission in real-time (50-years plus) over the Net. Open source Icarus modules may spin out of this that could be useful not only to the designers but also for educators.

Once we do start traveling to new stars, we are going to be beholding many strange and beautiful sights. Kimberly over at the Chandra Blog shares with us a project that looks at deep space images and compares them with terrestrial ones, putting a new twist on the concept of our place in the universe in Heaven and Earth.


What would surely be a spectacular sight is described for us by Colin at the Armagh Planetarium Blog in A sky of blazing stars. A cradle of young star birth makes one corner of space a place where the heavens would be filled with big stars, no doubt a wonder to behold.

Something you probably don’t want to be around to witness up close is a Gamma-Ray Burst, or GRB in astronomical parlance. Carolyn at The Spacewriter’s Ramblings tells of a recent episode of The Astronomer’s Universe that explored these cosmic mysteries in Exploring Gamma-ray Bursts

Steve over at Cheap Astronomy offers up a podcast of physics ponderings with the help of Australian skeptic Eran Segev, as well as a brief ad spot for the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast series.

Even when We are all in the gutter, we can still be looking up at the stars, and this month Emma is curating the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition being run by the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and shares her thoughts in My Astronomer’s Gallery – A June Journey. Gee, which do you think is my favorite?


The Royal Observatory, Greenwich’s annual Astronomy Photographer of The Year competition closes soon, with would-be winners needing to submit their snaps by 16 July. Categories include Earth & Space, Solar System and Young Astronomy Photographer of The Year. There’s £1000 on offer, and pride of place in an exhibition opening at the Observatory in September, so don’t delay!

While we’re on the subject of astrophotography, Ian and Peta over at Astroblog offer a lesson on how to use the software program GIMP to improve the quality of your astrophotos and create mosaics in Using The Gimp for Astrophotography (Part 3).

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, brings us to the end of this week’s Carnival of Space. I hope you’ve enjoyed the show, and will take the time to look up past Carnivals of Space, which can be found at Universe Today in the CoS Archives.


Space Investment Summit 8/ISDC 2010 Debrief

Howdy everyone! I’m fresh back in Dallas after a road-trip to Chicago for the SIS8/ISDC2010 combo, hosted by the friendly folks at the National Space Society and organized by the Chicago chapter.

ISDCs are unique creatures. While ostensibly the NSS is a national organization, the engine is the local chapters, who are out informing the public, organizing space events, working with educators, and otherwise trying to spaceify their communities. In a sense, the NSS serves as a kind of umbrella space interest society, and most members will also belong to a more focused space organization. Members of NSS of North Texas, the D/FW metroplex chapter (although our mandate is basically from Waco to the Red River) are also members of the Moon Society, Planetary Society, Mars Society, and Space Frontier Foundation. While each serves its purpose, NSS has the largest and most inclusive vision of humanity living and working in space.

This year’s ISDC reflected the local flavor, a sort of controlled chaos and fractiousness. Chicago is the kind of town where you’ll see an advert in Polish next to an advert in Spanish, and their politics are notoriously rough & tumble hardball, although they could easily be described in less courteous ways. The local chapter was dead set on increasing the attendance by folks in the community, and fought for flexibility in the registration pricing. The program had to be laid out. Speaking from experience as co-chair of the 2007 ISDC in Dallas, the process does leave scars.


I set out on the sunny Monday afternoon with the goal of reaching St. Louis, MO the first night, about a 10-hour drive. Stopping in the town of Eureka I crashed at the local 0-star hotel (filthy) and spent the next morning visiting some local used bookstores searching for books for the Lunar Library. I hit paydirt at Dunaway Books, where down in the back corner of the basement there were shelves and shelves of space books. I walked out with a stack that was easily 60-70 cm tall, mostly older titles from the 50s and 60s. So with a good feeling I hit the road for the drive up to Chicago, arriving early enough on Tuesday to check-in, dump my stuff and head out to some more bookstores, like the Half-Price Books (HPB) up in Niles.

Wednesday was the Space Investment Summit, an interesting bookend to the Space Economy Leadership Summit at the beginning of the month down in Austin. I wandered in towards the end of the first session, “An Overview of Commercial Space Markets”, which were presentations by Amaresh Kollipara of Earth2Orbit LLC, Michael Leventhal of mc² The Law Firm, and Max Grimard of EADS Astrium. I’d met M. Grimard earlier this year at the ISU Symposium, and knew Amaresh from previous space business conferences. As is becoming increasingly the case, I spent a good bit of the morning networking and developing contacts, as well as trying to generate content for my upcoming Moon Day event at the Frontiers of Flight Museum (FoF) at Love Field in Dallas. I did pop back in for the session on business plans in time to see Orbital Technologies, which does work in a number of sectors, but I know them best for their Space Garden educational product, and the company did send NSS of North Texas a whole bunch of space lettuce seeds to distribute at our outreach events.

I also saw Dennis Wingo‘s presentation on SkyCorp and its focus on On-Orbit Assembly. This is a key area for business to explore, as it offers an opportunity to radically re-think how we do communications satellites and space probes. One of the key expenses in satellites is the huge amount of over-engineering that goes into the construction of each satellite just to make sure it survives the launch in an operational state. Just being able to give satellites a once-over once they reach orbit would be a big game-changer.

For lunch we had Richard Garriott, whom I approached again about the Moon Day event. At this point the museum has taken over and will be sending a formal invite letter, which I wanted to give him a heads up about. He’s pretty sure he can be there, but I’ll have to wait to hear from FoF for confirmation.

The afternoon was more business plan presentations, and much more networking. Ian Fichtenbaum from NearEarth LLC gently chided me on my long overdue article on space business for their newsletter “From the Ground Up (pdf)“. They like the stuff I post here at OotC, but for their newsletter I’m trying to come up with something at a higher and more professional level, and the specific topic has been somewhat difficult to pin down. After some brainstorming he asked for something on asset-based lending in the space sector, a totally unexplored area given the still nascent state of the industry.

I also chatted with Eva-Jane, who was herself trying to drum up more business-focused interviews for EVA Interviews here at OotC. We’re trying to figure out a way to capture investment monies from IRAs and 401Ks, where folks might have $500 or $1000 (or more) that they’d like to invest in the space sector, but can’t because there’s really no good mechanism for doing so.

Like some kind of fund where investors can mutually pool their capital to make investments in that specific sector. A mutual fund structure probably won’t work, as they tend to be limited to publicly traded instruments like stocks or bonds, a stage at which the growing space sector has not yet arrived. Private equity is reserved for “Qualified Investors” who have gobs of money to throw at stuff, as are hedge funds. There’s really no good way for average folks to help grow this sector, but hopefully we can puzzle something out.

I also chatted with some of the VC folks, who are fascinated by the types of financing the bank I work for is involved with. Asset-based lending has its own particular intellectual challenges, and luckily I work for a bank that does it well.


Wednesday evening was a trip into the Loop to check out some more bookstores. The fact that the downtown Powell’s was closed pretty much set the stage for that evening’s efforts.

Thursday began the ISDC. I rolled in late, since when I’m on vacation I wake up when I wake up. I immediately hit the exhibit room to see what potential goodies they had. Folks were still getting set up, but I immediately spotted a few things to stock up on for the Moon Day event. The exhibitors were arranged around the perimeter, while the heart of the room was dedicated to the various winners of the NSS/NASA Ames Space Settlement Design Competition, as well as the winners of the Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Space Nutrition competition.

The first lunch had Peter Diamandis as the speaker. One of the points that has been raised at the NSS Board of Directors meetings is that the Directors should spread out amongst the room rather than cluster at the VIP tables like they usually do. I sat in the back corner this time around, and ended up at the same table as Will Watson and friends of the Space Frontier Foundation (SFF). We had a long conversation about how the leaders of the SFF made a conscious decision to move aside from the leadership of the organization and install a younger leadership team to help ensure the health and continuity of the organization after the founders have moved on.

Every organization that wants to be an ongoing organization, and not just a pet project of their leaders, has to continually cultivate new leaders and growth in the number of younger members in order to have an ongoing supply of leaders to guide that organization. One of the things I remember from my early years as a financial analyst at NatWest Bank in NYC is the ‘continuity plan’ that we would request of borrowers in the T&A industry (that’s textile & apparel you perverts) as part of the analysis of the company’s ability to pay back the loan over the tenor of that loan. The idea is that you’re here for the long haul, not a flash in the pan. I also remember as a member of the United Nations Association (UNA) during that same time that ALL organizations face this challenge, as they were increasingly coming to the realization that all of their members, many of whom were around at the founding of the UN, were getting old and dying.

Luckily the Space Age is younger than the UN Age, but not that much younger, and so it too is slowly coming to the realization that it is time to cultivate succeeding generations to find the leaders. SFF has already done this and it has done well for them, as I was quite surprised to learn that the SFF membership rolls are nearly half that of NSS. Their focus on the business and commerce side of things has worked for them as well, and right before the conference they fused the IASE into the SFF structure.

Other organizations, including NSS, are starting to come to that realization, but it really hasn’t hit them yet. I know that Gary Barnhard, the newly minted Executive Director of NSS, is quite cognizant of the issue, but NSS has a lot of stuff on its plate and so he’s going to have a hard time trying to maneuver the organization in that direction against so much inertia.

To his benefit he has been quite actively cultivating SEDS as an affiliate of NSS (as has SFF), and I was a strong supporter of the initiative to give graduating SEDS students a free one-year membership in NSS. Peter Kokh and Dave Dunlop at the Moon Society recognize the problem, but don’t have any easy solutions. Growth in the number of chapters has not been a priority until recently, but there have been chapters springing up here and there. In one unusual twist the Houston chapters of NSS and Moon Society are now holding their meetings in conjunction to help bolster their effectiveness. NSS of North Texas sort of does the same thing with a North Texas Space Meetup group, and a Mensa Space Interest Group (or…we did) both pointing to our monthly chapter meeting.

Since I don’t do Mars I tend not to have much to say on the topic. However, I do think that the Mars Society continues to suffer from being too much of a ‘cult of personality’ revolving around Bob Zubrin. This helped in the initial years of the organization, but now I think it’s becoming a constraint to their effectiveness. The local Dallas Mars Society (DMS) is discussing a bid to bring the annual Mars Society conference to Dallas in 2011, something that NSS of NT (even if I happen to be chapter president at the time) will provide the full amount of our support for, just as DMS provided their full support for our ISDC back in 2007. In my view if they are successful it will provide an opportunity for the Mars Society to start changing its spots. I will note that NSS and Mars Society do work together, and the Mars Society always has displays at the ISDCs and provides program content.

As much as the media (including the online space media) likes to play up the conflicts amongst members of the different societies, the fact is they are learning that we’ll either hang together or we’ll hang separately, and we’re much more effective when we hang together. It’s not an easy process, but one that does work to all our benefit.


Thursday afternoon was spent mostly networking and chatting. I should have spent more time in the SSP track, much to my chagrin. This is one image that circulated after the conference. I’m a big believer in the promise of space-based Solar power. I’d rather have a sun-dappled future than an oil-sludge covered one.

I do not believe that the systems will be built entirely from the surface of the Earth, but rather that the Moon will be an early supplier of low-value-added materials, and eventually the asteroids will provide the bulk of the construction material, using machinery tested and proved on the Moon. Space solar power is a project of decades, but one that promises a more than 4 billion year supply of energy. I think the long-term trade-off is worth it.

Late Thursday I was in the bar and ended up going to dinner with a bunch of the established names in the developing commercial space sector. Ken Davidian, Peter Eckert, Dallas Bienhoff, Lee Valentine, Eva-Jane Lark and others. I was quite interested to learn that one of the reasons that Lee Valentine isn’t a big fan of Moon development is that he doesn’t think that people want to live like troglodytes in caves. There are of course mitigants, like window walls that use a periscope structure to bring the surface view down below. Me, I’m not interested in living anywhere but the Moon.

Friday morning I again got intercepted by folks wanting to chat, so my first program for the day was Jeff Greason’s luncheon talk on his work on the Augustine Committee. This lunch was notable for the gentleman at my table who was a maritime attorney, but who was interested in space activities, so we spent a lot of time chatting about salvage law and interpretations of Lunar ownership rights. That afternoon I decided to head back into Chicago to check out some more bookstores, this time north of the downtown Loop. Not much success, and traffic was horrific getting back out to O’Hare, so I only got back to the conference just in time for the Bolden dinner.

Friday night was my chance to do a Boy Scout good deed for the day. I was a bit late getting back from the Lincoln Park bookstores, so there were only a few scattered seats around the margin. I ended up at the kids table. Literally. On this occasion I ended up with the winners of the NSS/NASA Ames Space Settlement Design Competition, a team from Durango, CO. They had all travelled up to Chicago to attend the awards ceremony, and the one senior in the group was even missing his high school graduation ceremony to be there with his team (kudos on that). I was seated next to their teacher, Daniel, during the meal and we got to chatting. He said the school had given him the diploma, and he was hoping to present it as part of the prize ceremony, although it would be cool if the presenter awarded it. I said you know what, I think we can do that. We hustled over to talk to Lynne Zielinski, the Director who was responsible for the Space Settlement Awards. She pointed me right to Gary Barnhard, so we hustled up to the fru-fru hoity-toity table and I got Gary’s attention and we gave him the quick low down on the situation. He agreed it was a good idea. Long story short – NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden presented the Space Settlement Competition award, and presented young Paul with his high school diploma in an impromptu ceremony. So impromptu we forgot to loop in the MC to change their script, so there was a bit of a long uncomfortable pause, but it was quickly over and we had an amazing event on our hands. This is not only the first time that a NASA Administrator has addressed an ISDC, but this may also be the first time that a NASA Administrator has graduated a young man from high school. No question he’s not going to forget it any time soon. Haven’t seen anything about it in the local Durango Herald, but at this point that doesn’t surprise me in the least. Why would anyone in Durango want to see a headline like “Local boy gets diploma from NASA Administrator” when they can get an AP wire like “Major retailers agree to limit lead in handbags accessories”.

Of course, what got the media attention? Not the wonderful, heart-warming and inspiring moment noted above, but rather Monkey Girl. I really don’t have much to say in that regard, as I think too many electrons have been spilled on the topic already. I will just say that NSS invests a lot of time, money and effort into these conferences. Getting the hotel space is not cheap, and since NSS paid for it, NSS determines who gets to speak and when. This was the first time a NASA Administrator had ever spoken to an ISDC, and so was somewhat important for the society. This young lady was not invited to speak, had no call to do so, and tarnished the solid reputation that SEDS has for providing great volunteers for the ISDC. I would have had no problem with her protesting outside the dinner, but inside the room, NSS’s venue, she was way beyond bounds.

Saturday morning I dropped in on the session on ‘New Space Paradigm: Roles of the New Space Entrepreneurs’, which was interesting but not particularly revelatory. The Saturday luncheon was with Lori Garver, which for many in the organization was a kind of homecoming. I’m from the post-Garver era, so for me it was more of a peptalk on the President’s new direction, which I’ve already got plenty of pep for. I’m looking forward to NASA helping the private sector expand the toolbox of capabilities we can exercise in cislunar space to develop the space industry.

Saturday afternoon I was in and out of various sessions, and spent some time talking with David Heck of Boeing about his intriguing idea for an International Lunar Research Park. Saturday evening was the Buzz Aldrin dinner, but I’m in a bit of Buzz Overkill mode having already seen him speak twice in recent months and so decided to once again head out in search of acquisitions for the Lunar Library. One notable stop was Games Plus in Mt. Pleasant which has a superb supply of gaming materials, and the HPB up in Palatine had a few goodies of interest.

Sunday was the day I was dreading – the Board of Directors meeting. I kind of deliberately slept in on Sunday, and so didn’t roll in until the luncheon with John Marmie, who gave a nice overview of the LCROSS mission and some of its early results. Now that we (almost) don’t have all of NASA’s budget being sucked into rocket development, we can start thinking about what kinds of science are good precursors for private exploitation missions. My vote would be for an IceBreaker mission to test drilling methodologies for everdark craters. Hopefully there will be a variety of methodologies tested, as I think things like sonic (through the medium of the regolith) and energy techniques will show particular promise in the harsh cold of the Lunar poles. As things stand, the coldest place measured in the Solar system is down near the Lunar South Pole. Issues like cold welding will become increasingly problematic, although there might be mitigants like ceramic/metal alloys. The Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) has been considering this sort of stuff for a while.

Okay, enough procrastinating. Board of Directors meeting. This was my fourth and final BoD meeting as the Region 3 Representative. The Board is anxious to have me continue in a leading role in the society, but I’ve had a hard time figuring out where I could be most effective, and the various committees have their hands full of unresolved issues in need of decisions, which have been accumulated while the society searched for a new Executive Director. My main point for the afternoon was to point out some financial and membership metrics which I can’t discuss in public, and note that NSS has to have a laser focus on increasing membership numbers.

The way I would do it, which I told the Board, would be to have each person on the Board of Governors (typically very high-visibility individuals – think Nichelle Nichols or Norm Augustine, Glenn Reynolds or Tom Cruise) commit to making a public announcement at some point in the next year that if you want to support space efforts, join a space society. Doesn’t matter which one (though preferably NSS), but if you support space exploration, development, exploitation, habitation or settlement, then join a space society. If every one of our Board of Governors (think Freeman Dyson or Pete Worden, Tom Hanks or Frederick Ordway) made such a public announcement, then we should expect our membership numbers to double in the next 12-18 months. Heck, we could probably do it just if Tom Hanks made a public entreaty, or a YouTube video, to get involved in supporting space efforts by joining a space society.

I’ve made that point before, but of course nothing has happened. Were I Director of PR I’d be calling these folks up and being all like WTF? Come on, guys, we need our membership numbers to increase, and part of the reason you’re on the Board of Governors (think Hugh Downs or Peter Glaser, Newt Gringrich or John Glenn) of NSS is not just to pad your resume, but also because you’re supposed to use your high profile to increase awareness of the National Space Society and drive membership numbers amongst your particular constituencies (and attend the ISDCs to socialize). Either that or provide a lot of cash like the folks at the highest level of the membership ranks.

And so you see why I don’t get to deal with high profile people. I’m too dangerous and likely to perturb or unsettle them, perhaps leading to a negative feedback loop where all of a sudden a bunch of Governors (maybe Eric Drexler or Maria von Braun, Harrison Schmidt or Bruce Boxleitner) submit their resignations because of the punk kid getting all up in their face.

Which in all honesty, I wouldn’t be entirely against happening, as it would provide an opportunity to refresh the BoG with fresh young faces and ideas (which are just repeats of past ideas again and again, but always in the context of previously unavailable tools and capabilities). Maybe even some quick cash endowments… 😉


Sunday dinner was the Freeman Dyson talk, and I have to admit he is a really sharp brain. I don’t agree with all of his thoughts, but given his stature that really doesn’t matter much now does it? Sunday night was also the various chapter and individual awards, and once again I didn’t get the Pioneer Award, although George Whitesides did get one, so perhaps there is still hope for some of us youngsters. The whole point is to have it in the Lunar Library, and I’ve been pining for one ever since the 2004 ISDC in Oklahoma City (the tornado conference – none at the hotel though we went outside to look, but some in the area) where I first caught a glimpse of it. They keep telling me I need to do something exceptional to get one, and I guess being Executive Director of NSS, Chief of Staff at NASA, and CEO of Virgin Galactic would do that.

Perhaps I should throw my hat into the ring the next round of NSS ED search, but I’m kind of still waiting to hear about the Director position at the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) which is really what I’d rather do given that I could accomplish great Moon things in such a position, even recognizing that Pete Worden and NASA would probably put a figurative choke collar on me to stop me from going too far off the plantation. I just wish they’d send me my rejection letter so I could have closure. Hopefully not in triplicate (seriously) like the last NASA job I applied for (policy analyst for OSF, at which I would have kicked butt, just like I did at the NASA Academy where I had the Goddard Academy show up at an O’Keefe Senate hearing to learn the politics of NASA, and O’Keefe got to hold them up to the Senators as the kind of future leaders NASA was cultivating, and the same thing for the Ames Academy at an O’Keefe House hearing.


I also arranged a meeting at the French Embassy with the CNES Representative(‘s assistant) (maybe CNRS) to get the ball rolling on an exchange program between NASA Academy and students at CNES, which continues to this day and has expanded to include JAXA. You can be darn tootin’ sure it was timed so that she would offer us lunch in their cafeteria when we were done with business. My coup de grace was arranging for a live webcast from an ISU SSP special session on Astrobiology while the NASA Ames Astrobiology Academy students were in town for a visit to HQ and Goddard. If I put my mind to it I would likely be terrifyingly effective at politics, which is part of why I steer clear of such things, although the main reason is that I consider most of politics to be nothing more than exercises in mental masturbation which add little of value to the commonweal. Remember, here in Texas we only let our politicians meet every other year.

Sunday night was back to the hotel to pack up, and try to guard as much space as I could in the car for the materials I scavenged from the exhibit hall on Monday morning before hitting the road. I ended up with only one of the two artworks I bid on at silent auction, Michael Bedard’s “Hello Houston“, though I carried both home. He’s best known for his duck caricatures, but the image reminded me of the Calvin stickers one often sees on the back windows of pick-up trucks, and so I had to have it. A young couple from the D/FW metroplex (surprise, surprise) picked up a very large matted and framed print of Earthrise. I promised not to outbid them IF they let me borrow it for the Lunar Art show I’m doing at FoF (and I’d even transport it back to Texas, since they were wondering how they were going to get it on the plane). They quickly assented and we had ourselves a deal.


So for this year’s ISDC, the meals were really where I got my value. I should have hit the program tracks more than I did, but oh well. Maybe next year in Huntsville…


The last point of interest in Chicago was the Adler Planetarium, which I hit up early Monday afternoon as lightning peppered the downtown Chicago area. I’d heard about their $3.0Mn ‘overhead projector’ back during the campaign, but didn’t get a chance to see it, although they do have some fascinating older technology on display, like the sphere with the holes drilled in it in the patterns of the various asterisms. A decent Moon section, though as usual focused on Apollo achievements. I made sure to drop a wad of cash in the gift shop for various goodies for the Lunar Library and souvenirs for friends and family, and then hit the road.

The goal was to make it to Kansas City that night, and I made it to Independence before getting off the highway to look for a place to crash for the night. I ended up in a supervalubudget hotel, which while much more ‘used’ than the one I had stayed at in Eureka, was also much cleaner, although I did get the feeling that it served not only the itinerant labor community, but was also the local no-tell motel.

Next morning I was back on the road, but with a stop at Prospero’s Books in a funky little neighborhood south of the downtown area. Since I wandered a bit through neighborhoods to get there, I got to see a lot of economic blight, much more so than in St. Louis. I should check with our MBS guy at work to see what kind of exposure MBSes in general had in Kansas City.


Back on the road, the next objective was the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson. A few of my chapter members have been there and recommended it, so I thought I’d give it a try. Thunderstorms rolling east had me scanning the skies as I drove to keep an eye out for the tell-tale signs of twisters. There was one massive bolt of lightning to the west, and ten minutes later I got to drive by the smoking and smoldering remains of two trees just off the roadway that had gotten smacked. I imagine that quite literally scared the crap out of more than one driver.

Arriving in Hutchinson in the early afternoon, I proceeded to try to find the Cosmosphere. It’s surprisingly non-descript, and I didn’t see a lot of advertising on the way in pointing the way. The gift shop is most impressive, and my ‘best’ purchase there was some bits of Moon rock, in this case milligram pieces of NWA 4734 as certified by two IMCA members. I picked up a bunch of other stuff as well, including items for the NSS-NT Science Fair Scholarship Raffles and the NSS-NT Santa Space Toy Drive for Santa’s Helpers.

The gentleman at the front desk saw the NASA Academy logo on the polo shirt I was wearing and let me on through (though without any movies or shows). If the gift shop was impressive, the museum was even more so, and the history of space was quite thoroughly laid out, with life-size chunks of hardware like V-1 and V-2 rockets. The layout of the World War II portion for some reason reminded me a lot of the WW II Resistance Museum at the Akershus Castle in Oslo, Norway. The Russian section was much more comprehensive than one usually sees, and I took longer than I had anticipated to wander through given I still had a hellacious drive back to Dallas that night. In the opinion of this Lunar Librarian, who has been from the Tyco Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen to the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum in China, the Kansas Cosmosphere definitely rates a Full Moon in my book.

Then it was back to Dallas for a few days of rest & relaxation, meaning cataloguing into the Lunar Library the more than fifty items I’d picked up on the trip, getting started on the debrief, work on Moon Day stuff, and get the art show together for the Frontiers of Flight Museum. Let’s see, 91 pages in the Lunar Library, drop the last one because it’ll be all the web links which I don’t pay much attention to, times 25 items per page gives us some 2,250 catalogued online. There are actually over 2,500 items in the Lunar Library, but I’m not necessarily able to generate a ‘file card’ for every item. Stuff like ‘Space Juice’ sugar waters and ‘Lunar Ice Sour’ crystal candy test tubes are good examples of the latter. The Moon Day preparations are coming together swimmingly.

The art show promises to be sweet. I dropped off all 31 frames (28 pieces) at the museum yesterday, and together with the museum director and my art director we laid out the generalities of how the show would lay out on the walls. Four main sections: Lunar surface, Lunar tourism, Lunar industry, and kid’s stuff. There was a big display case in the hall that the director said he would move, and I of course had to get all braggadaccio and be all “Oh, I could fill that. Oh yeah.” So now I’ve got to come up with a display case’s worth of stuff over the next week while he’s hanging the show. Plus, he was so impressed by the scope of the works that he decided to print up a limited number of catalogues for the exhibit. He wants to use ‘Lunar Base’ by Lynn Perkins as the cover at for the program (we’re double checking on permission as I speak), and adverts, and the website splash (which isn’t up yet). The bad part is that I now have to come up with brief commentary on the pieces yesterday, my NSS-NT monthly President’s report is overdue, and guess who’s hosting this week’s Carnival of Space?


We’re going to get a professional scan for the event

So with that, I have to say it was an excellent vacation. The road trip gave me plenty of time to empty my mind, and I was able to return to work today relaxed and refreshed. Which is a good thing because all kinds of stuff has been hitting the fan in the last two weeks, the internal auditors were all over me like a cheap suit almost first thing, and I got to get called on the carpet for an multi-million dollar reporting error last month. (No, I didn’t make the mistake, but it passed through my hands so I have responsibility) Oh joy, the life of a banker.

“The Spaceflight Vault”

Mayfield, Mark
“The Spaceflight Vault”
Whitman Publishing
ISBN: 0-794-83046-3
Publisher’s Web Site
The Space Show Interview

Librarian’s Note: This “vault” book is replete with reproductions of historical documents, from the texts of speeches to press passes for shuttle launches, postcards, mission docs, and more. Fans of “Launch Magazine” may remember Mark as one of the publishers, and he brings the same focus on quality production values to this collection.

“Kids to Space Club: Are we there yet?”


Schorer, Lonnie Jones
“Kids to Space Club: Are we there yet?”
Apogee Books
Author’s Web Site
Publisher’s Web Site

Librarian’s Note: Lonnie always lamented that no one ever seemed to pay attention to the story she wrote to connect the 100 chapters of the original “Kids to Space“, so for this third tome in the series (after the Educator Guide) the story is extracted and presented as a more coherent whole, although with one question from each topic extracted as well to help keep it educational. Usual disclosure – your Lunar Librarian co-wrote the Moon chapter of “Kids to Space”.

She’s Away!

Out of the Cradle extends sincere congratulations to SpaceX on the launch of their Falcon 9 rocket and the delivery of payload to orbit.


These are the kinds of successes that the private space industry needs to continue to accrue to help show the promise of this growing American industry. OotC has been watching SpaceX throughout the life of this blog, and will continue to do so.

Our reality shifted just a little bit today. Thank you Elon and everyone at Team SpaceX for this wonderful achievement.

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