Wayne Hale and the Columbia aftermath + Rand Simberg and what ended the Shuttle program

Continuing  his series on the Columbia disaster, former Space Shuttle flight directory and program manager Wayne Hale writes about the memorials and the accident site activities  in the months following the tragedy : After Ten Years: Picking Up the Pieces – Wayne Hale’s Blog.

Find links to Hale’s previous posts here and here.

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Rand Simberg responds to some comments in the Space Safety Magazine special report on Columbia : The Columbia Disaster – Transterrestrial Musings

The public supports spaceflight, if someone else pays for it

Stephen C. Smith writes about public support, or lack thereof, for NASA and its projects as seen in polls as far back as the early 1960s: Poll Position – Space KSC.

A July 2011 CNN/ORC International Poll conducted at the end of the Space Shuttle program asked, “In general, do you think the US (United States) should rely more on the government or more on private companies to run the country’s manned space missions in the future?”

54% chose private companies, 38% chose government, 4% chose both equally, 2% said neither, and 2% had no opinion.

At a time one might assume the public was feeling nostalgic, if not outright mourning, for the end of the Space Shuttle program, a majority wanted space turned over to the private sector.

[…]

Asking the taxpayer to support a government space program is a different question from asking Americans if they support the overall notion of space exploration. The key difference is who pays for it.

Mars One obtains its first investments

The Mars One organization, though it recently became a non-profit, wants to fund one-way expeditions to Mars via media sponsorships, reality shows, and other commercial techniques. They released this announcement today:

Mars One Secures First Investments

AMERSFOORT, THE NETHERLANDS, 29 JANUARY 2013 – Interplanetary Media Group, the Mars One daughter company which manages the intellectual property and media associated with the human mission to Mars, has received its first investments. These funds will be used to finance the Conceptual Design Studies and the launch of the global Astronaut Selection Program.

Kai Staats, Director of Business Development for Mars One states, “Organizing a human mission to Mars is a tremendously complex venture. There are many engineering hurdles to overcome and the total funds required are tremendous. Raising a few million [US dollars] in the coming months may seem insignificant in the shadow of the pending billions required, but we are taking it one step at a time. These first few bring tangible demonstration to nearly two years in planning. For us, committed funds in this phase of development are an important indicator we are moving in the right direction.

In the first half of 2013, Mars One will award the Conceptual Design studies to industry suppliers. These are sophisticated engineering bids, technical plans which lay the foundation for the major components such as the transport vehicles, space suits, life support systems and living modules on Mars. These will substantiate the Mission plan with real-world engineering designs and data.

Mars One will also launch the Astronaut Selection Program which immediately, directly involves people from around the world. This is a new paradigm for anyone who is interested to participate in space travel. As Mars One is anticipating hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than one million applicants, the infrastructure required to professionally manage such a process is substantial.

Mars One remains open to additional investors. Interested parties may contact Mars One at invest@mars-one.com.

Everyone can participate in space