Category Archives: NASA

A Case for Asteroid Missions

Asteroid bases in our future?
Asteroid bases in our future?

We’ve discussed President Obama’s plans for NASA in my research group. Things look good for us: as a team working on spacecraft technology research, looking for things that will make construction, maneuvering, and other activities in space easier, cheaper, and better, we are very happy to see the technology research arm of NASA finally getting the funding it deserves. (It’s amazingly ironic that “space age” technology means thirty-year-old tech.) However, one grad student in my group questioned the value of targeting asteroids, specifically, for exploration. Is it worth it to send people to asteroids? Do we gain anything by doing so?

I think we do, and I’m going to explain why here. But first, I want to make clear two things I am not going to do. I am not going to make a scientific case for going to asteroids. The reason why I’m not going to use science to justify asteroid missions is that we can gain scientific knowledge wherever we go. We can learn new things anywhere. I’m not going to try to prioritize that knowledge, because in the end, it’s all valuable and it’s likely that there will be breakthrough theories germinated from any field of endeavor. In addition, I am not going to make a case against returning to the Moon or going directly to the Martian surface. I am not going to list reasons opposing either of those destinations simply because I don’t think there are any. Rather, I am going to focus on the reasons why I think asteroids are exciting destinations.

Reason one: Operations on and around asteroids are extremely challenging.

On the one hand, anything in space is challenging. But asteroids may be especially tricky, mostly because we don’t yet understand what being around an asteroid would be like. We have only a few close-up pictures of asteroid surfaces, and have only touched the surface of asteroids with two robot spacecraft that I can think of. As far as we can tell, their surfaces are covered with fine regolith, perhaps like the Moon, but their odd shapes give them very strange (micro)gravity fields. Imagine you’re standing on the “side” of a tiny, potato-shaped world like Ida. Which way is down? Harder question than you might think!

243 Ida and Dactyl
243 Ida and Dactyl

NASA can simulate operations on planets and moons by visiting “analog” sites on Earth, trying out procedures in mock space suits and pretend capsules. NASA also has a wealth of free-fall experience from its operations in low Earth orbit with the Space Shuttle and Space Station. But no space agency has any experience with or ways to simulate environments like asteroids. So, not only are asteroids tricky places to be, but the only way to learn about being around asteroids is to go to an asteroid. We’ve never done or thought about this stuff before, at least not in detail. I think that’s exciting!

In particular, I think the challenge of operations around asteroids demands that we send people there. There has been a lot of talk about how the new NASA plans will leave our astronauts without jobs and focus entirely on robotic missions. Whether you think that is a good thing or not, I think it is untrue. While robotic precursor explorers will give us some inkling about what to expect, figuring out how to actually do things on asteroids (science, construction, etc) may be better achieved through an in-situ human learning process. The closest analog we have to asteroid operations is work around the outside of ISS, which we do not yet trust to robots and have tremendous experience with. Astronauts around asteroids could rapidly tell NASA Mission Operations analysts what the major differences are between an ISS spacewalk and asteroid spacewalk. At the same time, a human’s ability to learn on-site, manipulate four limbs in a coordinated manner, and perceive situations clearly and directly would be desirable qualities.

Why do we care about learning how to operate crewed missions around asteroids? Well, Reason Two is that these asteroid operations skills are transferable.

Buzz Aldrin likes to talk about Phobos. Well, if we want to go to Mars, then the first question we must answer is exactly what sort of mission profile we want to use. Options include a Moon-landing-like sortie mission, in which we put boots on the planet, bounce around picking up rocks for a couple weeks, plant a flag, and then take off for home. We could also send a mission that lasts a year or two and involves building a temporary (or permanent) base, establishing laboratories, and zipping around in rovers; this probably involves multiple launches to and from the Red Planet. Or we could go for the interesting option of picking 50 or so people and sending them to Mars, in one launch, with everything they need to be self-sufficient. The point of all this is that, depending on the mission, it might be valuable to use Phobos as a way station. And if we want to be around Phobos, we have to learn how to be around Phobos. More than that, we have to learn how to be around Phobos and be very, very far from and out of reach from Earth.

Moreover, microgravity operations around small bodies are exactly the kinds of operations that would be relevant in the asteroid belt. Or around the Jupiter Trojans. Or in Jupiter’s moon system. Or Saturn’s moon system. Or near comets. Or by near-Earth asteroids. You get the picture: small-body operations will be important for the manned exploration of the Solar System beyond the Moon and Mars, and the more capabilities we develop, the easier it will be to get to and function in exotic places.

Next, reason three: not only is there science to be done, but around asteroids, we could learn techniques that may be necessary for Earth defense.

Yeah, I’m talking about defending the planet from rogue asteroids. We certainly won’t be doing this by launching a team of misfit miners and Bruce Willis. Now, the asteroid deflection techniques we develop may or may not involve manned missions, but when we’re talking about the survival of a city – or the entire human race as we know it – why remove any tool from our kit?

The fourth reason is one that ought to appeal to space technologists out there: asteroids could provide resources for construction which are much easier to get into orbit than the resources on Earth.

Asteroids are made of useful things. Nickel-iron asteroids are composed of metals, both common and rare. Carbonaceous asteroids contain other materials. Some even have organic compounds. There is even recent evidence that many asteroids have water! These potential resources may be easy to get to, if the asteroids are rubble-piles, or the useful materials are in the asteroid regolith, or if the asteroid is entirely made of metals that can be melted or dissolved for processing.

Budding space industrialists may be disappointed, but mining asteroids for rare metals to sell on Earth isn’t likely to be economically viable. (It’s too hard to safely get those metals from the asteroids down to Earth’s surface – for instance, we would have to spend more money to launch a Space Shuttle than we would get for the mass of materials that Shuttle could bring down from orbit – a launch costs roughly $450 million, and at current prices, the Shuttle could bring down $15 million in pure silver if filled to the brim. We’d have to find asteroids made of pure gold and platinum and cram the Shuttle to make that come out positive.) However, what could be viable is mining and processing the resources on asteroids into spacecraft bodies, components, consumables, and fuels, which could be jettisoned from their parent asteroids with very little effort. This is simply because asteroids have very small escape velocities compared to planets and moons. If we could get ISRU going, it could be the great moneysaver of the space industry!

ISRU, or in-situ resource utilization, is already a hot topic of research; applications include processing lunar regolith into bricks or reacting chemicals with Martian soil to produce rocket fuels. This would be the next level of complexity: imagine landing a facility on an asteroid that grapples to the rock, bores its way down, processes the metals in the asteroid, and extrudes spacecraft pieces that are ready to assemble. Or perhaps a spacecraft that can land on an asteroid and scoop up material to refill its fuel and consumables. These abilities would let humans build whole new classes of spacecraft, capable of going further than any before. And, given the complexity of building the International Space Station, many of these activities will probably require the involvement of astronauts.

The last reason I can think of – at least, right now – why asteroids make very cool targets is that the asteroids themselves could be used as spacecraft.

The science-fiction way to do this is to find an asteroid and hollow it out with tunnels, crew compartments, fuel tanks, or big, cylindrical chambers. The excess rock and metal from the digging can be fed to mass drivers (or combined with antimatter) to propel the asteroid.

As big a fan as I would be of asteroid colonies or arkships to the outer Solar System and beyond, that’s a pretty farfetched idea at this point. However, an interesting possibility if we want to get to far-flung destinations is to locate an asteroid in an orbit that starts somewhere easy to get to and goes somewhere we want to go, and then hitch a ride. There’s an interesting class of resonant orbits called “cyclers,” which have the property that they rendezvous with two bodies of interest at least once per synodic period. For example, the so-called Aldrin cycler is an orbit trajectory that matches up with the Earth and Mars, with a travel time of 146 days between planets. All we’d have to do is get there and grab on!

We’re not likely to find an asteroid that is naturally on such an orbit, but we may locate asteroids that are on other potentially useful orbits. If we learn enough about asteroid deflection from our planetary defense studies, we might even be able to nudge asteroids onto such orbits, on purpose!

The Moon is a cool place to go. Mars is a cool place to go. Jupiter is a cool place to go. But, you know what? Asteroids are cool places to go, too. We will learn and benefit from any exploration destination. Small bodies, which come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and compositions, may be very, very different from planets and moons. If we can learn how to use them as platforms for exploration, then perhaps we can jump off them to explore all the far reaches of the Solar System.

Astronauts in space

STS-131 / Exp 23 group photo
STS-131 / Exp 23 group photo

The Space Shuttle mission which just undocked from the International Space Station, STS-131, has beamed down from orbit some great photos of astronauts in space. This is a wonderful chance for us stuck planetside to remind ourselves that we have people living and working in spaceships!

The Discovery crew in the Cupola
The Discovery crew in the Cupola

And, of course, this mission is historic for having the largest number of women simultaneously in space – four out of the thirteen total crew. Considering small-number statistics, that is pretty close to a fifty-fifty split! Here is the orbiting Bay Stater, Stephanie Wilson:

MS Wilson in the Kibo laboratory
MS Wilson in the Kibo laboratory

And here’s JAXA’s Naoko Yamazaki in the Destiny laboratory at a robotics console made of lots of ThinkPads taped to the ISS wall,

MS Yamazaki in Destiny
MS Yamazaki in Destiny

although I think this is my favorite picture of Yamazaki!

In the Cupola!
In the Cupola!

That’s where JAXA astronaut Soich Noguchi has been taking and Twittering down amazing Earth-observation and Space Station photos. (That is the single best application of Twitter I have ever seen, and is not likely to be surpassed, ever.)

Finally, I will leave you with astronaut family dinner!

I love astronauts (PS - obey the speed limit: 28,000 kph!)
I love astronauts (PS - obey the speed limit: 28,000 kph!)

Some brief comments on President Obama’s NASA speech

While President Obama’s speech this afternoon wasn’t a slam-bang Kennedyesque dream vision, I thought he expressed some good ideas. Of course, there aren’t too many substantial differences between the plan we heard and the plan Charlie Bolden presented in February; the President’s remarks today sounded much more defensive than visionary. Given the amount of criticism his NASA ideas have received, I don’t really blame him…but still.

The most frustrating thing to me about the new NASA plan is how distorted it has become in the media. The first thing Obama said this afternoon was that he is increasing NASA’s budget by $6,000,000,000 – at a time when he has frozen discretionary spending and we are looking for ways to deal with crisis after crisis. There were even headlines two days ago to that effect. Ohmigosh, the budget is going up! Well, yeah. It went up in February. It’s a wonder that the story in the media since then has been uniformly about NASA budget cuts; that attitude has permeated commentary even from sources inside NASA. It’s amazing how an idea like that can spread, even in the face of direct evidence of exactly the opposite.

Most of President Obama’s remarks today were familiar to me. Billions of dollars for robotic precursor missions, game-changing technology research, technology demonstration missions, and new human spaceflight capabilities. Buying launches from American companies rather than having NASA contract out for launchers to call its own, to close the LEO access gap. Extending the Space Station. All this we’ve seen before, and I still think all this sounds good.

We heard about two new development programs this afternoon: an ISS crew-escape vehicle based on the Orion capsule, which will evolve into our deep-space crew vehicle designs, and an accelerated heavy-lift program with the goal of having ready-to-build designs by 2015.

The Orion-derived crew lifeboat I think is stupid. To me, this looks like either pandering to the people at Marshall Space Flight Center who were annoyed that they didn’t have a capsule to build, pandering to the people who think tat a Dragon capsule wouldn’t meet NASA safety requirements, or pandering to the pining-for-the-Cold-War neocons who have been crying about how our ISS astronauts will be “held hostage” without US access to space. Having an ISS lifeboat may sound like a great idea, but the station already has a few reliable Soyuz vehicles for exactly that purpose. An Orion lifeboat is a waste of money and effort. The one good thing about this program is that it is supposed to feed into our designs for true space vehicles – but I would have preferred it if the President had just told the Orion teams to concentrate on that purpose.

The accelerated heavy-lift program is more exciting. I’d love to see NASA developing the capacity to fling wonderful new hardware to high Earth orbit and beyond, and I understand that it is valuable to keep the engineering expertise to develop such a vehicle within the NASA organization.  I’m very happy to see a date of 2015 attached to the designs for that system – and remember that Ares I was projected to be ready no earlier than 2018, and Ares V around 2030 – so the new heavy lift program is a much more ambitious one than either of these!

In addition to these new programs, President Obama finally announced a series of targets and dates. Criticisms of the new NASA vision have come from all across the board and contained all sorts of specific elements – but the one shared element, heard from ’round the space community, were: where is NASA going? and when is it supposed to get there?

Well, today we heard the following:

  • Ready-to-build heavy lift designs complete by 2015.
  • Human crews fly beyond the Earth-Moon system before 2025.
  • Human crews land on an asteroid sometime between 2025 and the mid-2030’s.
  • Human crews orbit Mars by the mid-2030’s.

Human landings on Mars are supposed to follow “shortly thereafter.” I’m thrilled to see these dates; they are nicely within my lifetime and identify specific targets. Perhaps they could have been presented with a bit more polish and panache, but I’m happy to have them!

(Side note: The Augustine Commission found that, with $3 billion/year extra funding, the Constellation Program would miss its 2020 deadline and get us to the Moon around 2030. So….eat it, Mike Griffin.)

Finally, I want to comment that it occurs to me that a lot of people in the space community have been contrasting Obama’s new plan to Kennedy’s speeches in the early ’60s. Obama’s speech today couldn’t have illustrated the differences between the two Presidents’ characters better – Kennedy seemed to run on pure emotional vigor in his space speeches, while Obama was his usual cool, collected, rational self. I like what he’s planning, but it wasn’t exactly couched in stirring rhetoric. However, I don’t think that speaks poorly of Obama’s commitment to space exploration. I think the difference between Obama and Kennedy is simply one of pragmatism. When I look at the goals he laid out, and compare them to Norm Augustine’s comments at the opening of the space summit (made as I began this post!), they make a lot of sense in that light. What Augustine said is that NASA’s goal, in the eyes of his commission, the NASA administrator, and the President, is to land people on Mars – but the trouble is that we just don’t have the technological capability yet to do that. Obama’s vision for NASA starts with developing that capability.

Put another way, imagine Kennedy had Obama’s character. His stated goal, expressed in that famous speech to a joint session of Congress shortly after Alan Shepard’s first flight, would not have been to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth. It would have been to develop and demonstrate technologies like orbital rendezvous, multi-person spacecraft, computer control of spacecraft, heavy lift, and planetary landing stages. Essentially, it’s as if Kennedy’s goal had been to complete the Gemini program. But the deadline for completing that goal would have been shorter than a decade, and the story wouldn’t end there. The groundwork would be in place for whoever was President at the time of Gemini’s completion to say, “okay, we’ve got that under our belt…now let’s get to the Moon!”

In short, Obama could have said something like, “Let’s land on Mars by 2040!” But instead, he gave us more incremental, shorter-term goals with a much higher chance of success. And he laid the groundwork for a future President to say, “okay, we can keep people alive in space for years and get to Mars orbit…let’s put boots on the ground!”

just a couple things to share

First, Ryan has posted an excerpt of a speech by Charlie Bolden addressing common misconceptions about the new NASA budget. The speech confirms that (1) the goal of the US space program is to get people to Mars, (2) NASA will be pushing the technological envelope to do that, (3) the human presence in LEO will be going full-throttle all that time, and (4) Constellation was going to fail at all those things. I’m happy.

Second, the Big Picture has a great series of photos from the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics. It’s a fantastic collection of photos, and I wonder why those events aren’t televised. Many of them look even more exciting than some of the analogous Olympic events. Best wishes to those athletes!

re: Questions on NASA’s Future

This *almost* made me register for Twitter, just to respond. But I am still resisting the “service that nobody knew they wanted!” I hope a pingback goes through…if not, I bet I can rely on a retweet from @aerognome. 😉

Here are my answers:

1) Should Constellation be saved?

No; at least, not without a lot of major changes. CxP is drastically underfunded, horribly over budget, way behind schedule, and myopically limited in technology and innovation. It wasn’t going to get us to the Moon before 2030 and wasn’t even going to get us to ISS before 2018. I’d very much like to have Mike Griffin’s Constellation fetters come off.

2) Should Shuttle be extended to close the gap?

No. Not only is that infeasible (there are no more STS external fuel tanks left, and we cannot make more) and uneconomical (due to high launch and recovery costs), but the Shuttle is thirty years old. It was never designed to fly for this long and should have been replaced in the early 90’s. In what other industry do people go around with 30-year-old vehicles and devices, still saying that they are the cutting edge? In what other industry is the 30-year-old vehicle the cutting edge? This is your own damn fault, Congress. Where’d the X33 go when we had the chance?!

3) Should NASA perform exploration missions while developing new R&D technologies that will get us to Mars?

Yes, and I don’t think this point is at issue. The problem is that the Obama administration chose to release their NASA budget without a corresponding space policy speech – it’s not that exploration missions have been cancelled, it’s that we don’t have any information on exploration targets and goal dates. I suspect that Obama’s rumored speech in April will remedy this. At least Charlie Bolden thinks we’re going to Mars!

It is important for me to say that there is a corresponding question, “should NASA develop new technologies while performing exploration missions?” The answer to this question is also “yes,” and critically, it was “no” under Constellation.

4) Is a heavy-lift vehicle required to leave LEO?

Let me instead answer a more general question: “Are new technologies or vehicles required to leave LEO?”

To that, I say yes. Either that means we need an economical heavy-lift capability, or tech development related to in-orbit deploying and assembling of large structures from small components. A detailed trade study should show which of those options to pick.

5) Why is inspiration important to the future of NASA?

Our nation is increasingly facing challenges that must be approached by scientific or engineering methods, and so it is generally in our national best interest to get students studying STEM fields. One way to keep them interested in science and technology is to make sure that there are really high-profile science and engineering project being done on a national level – the kinds of projects that happen at NASA. Even if those who pursue STEM fields don’t work for NASA itself, they may tackle related problems that have national repercussions, from more efficient solar cells to better medical technologies to indefinitely preservable foods.

And of course, NASA needs a pool of motivated, educated, capable recruits in order to pull off such projects. So NASA itself has a vested interest in inspiring students to remain interested in STEM fields during and after their educations.

Fixed an error in an LRO image

Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy posted a few days ago about caved-in lava tubes on the Moon. This isn’t really new news, but it’s still pretty darned cool news. He posted some images of the cave. However, I found a major, glaring error in the LROC image data.

I fixed it.

Lava cave - fixed!

Seriously, though…those sites are perfect premade Moon base locations. Imagine a team of astronauts putting an inflatable dome over the hole in the roof, belaying down there, putting inflatable endcaps a few tens of meters down the lava tube in each direction, spraying expandable foam sealant into all the crevasses, and using some ISRU atmosphere generators to pump the tube full of oxygen.

Solving the CxP-cancellation image problem

I was very encouraged to read that Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) expressed some thoughts on the new NASA budget this past week that agrees pretty well with my own view. I’ve generally been worried about the Senators and Representatives from Florida, Alabama, and Texas; since I am very much a proponent of the new NASA programs, I don’t want to see politicians trying to drag out the generally defunct Constellation program just to get some pork for their districts.

Some of Sen. Nelson’s comments:

“I think they made two tactical mistakes that gave everybody the wrong impression,” the Florida Democrat said. “The first one is that the president didn’t set what the goal is, and everybody knows the goal and that’s to go to Mars.

“The second mistake was that they said they are canceling the Constellation program. That sounds like they were canceling the manned (spaceflight) program, when in the same breath he said we’re doing the research and development for a heavy lift vehicle, and they were putting all their eggs in the same basket of getting to the space station with the commercial boys.”

The most frustrating thing to me about the general space-blogger explosion in response to the new NASA budget and programs is that they all seem to have been screaming, “Obama cancelled the manned space program!” That has never been true; he cancelled the already-way-behind-Constellation program. Cancelling the human spaceflight program would look something more like erasing NASA’s Exploration Systems and Space Operations Mission Directorates. ESMD is, in fact, getting the large bulk of the new NASA money, and it’s earmarked specifically for new human space programs and technology. I have even seen news reports that talk about the NASA “budget cut,” when in fact the budget is increasing by a phenomenal $6 billion in the next five years.

What gives? Why do all the commentators think that what’s going on is the exact opposite of what’s actually happening? It could just be the people at Marshall SFC and the fans of Mike Griffin (who frequently pontificates that CxP’s thrown-together-knee-jerk-Columbia-reaction approach is the best and only way to get into space) don’t want to see Constellation’s vehicles go, but that is hard to understand given how far behind schedule Ares I is, how Ares V and Altair don’t exist yet, and how Orion keeps shrinking in capacity and capability. They’re also not everybody in the space community…and I’d expect the rest to be excited about the expanded budget and the new mandate for NASA to go ahead and put modern technologies on their vehicles, instead of sticking to Shuttle-era (that’s the 70’s, folks) stuff. I think Sen. Nelson hit the nail on the head – most of the media have conflated “Constellation Program” with “Human Space Program,” and the lack of an explicitly articulated space goal direct from the President is hurting right now. NASA Administrator Maj Gen Charlie Bolden clearly thinks that the goal is to get people to Mars by about 2030, and President Obama even asked, in his call to ISS astronauts last week, what it would take to get to Mars and beyond.

So I think President Obama desperately needs to give a Space Address, in which he articulates The Goal and expresses American spaceflight ambitions in a way that deals with the issues that Sen. Nelson identified. I think I know, from the budget documents, Bolden’s remarks, and what little we’ve heard from the White House, what would be in this address (again, see my post “NASA, unleashed!“). So, here’s what I think he should say. Everything here is factually accurate, based on the budget numbers and Bolden’s statements. The dramatic difference is that it leaves no ambiguity as to the positive position of our human space program. Obama could give this speech, or something like it, tomorrow. And he should! Continue reading Solving the CxP-cancellation image problem

Our biggest spaceship now has an Observation Deck!

This is just so cool.

STS-130: Endeavour

“Mike, if you’re CapCommin’ and you’re lookin’ for folks and you can’t find ’em…they’re probably in here.”

That was a radio call from the STS-130 crew to Mission Control in Houston from early on Wednesday, after all seven windows in the ISS Cupola were opened for the very first time. I have been watching NASA TV and trawling their multimedia galleries all the time I’ve been at my desk today…the views out the Cupola – of Earth, the Moon, the Station, and the Shuttle – are simply spectacular. Here is a small selection of the currently available images, available here. (I can’t wait till they release some of the photos looking out at the Shuttle cargo bay and the Soyuz spacecraft on the ISS exterior. Future robot arm work is also going to look amazing.)

S130-E-007858 (14 Feb. 2010) --- NASA astronaut Robert Behnken, STS-130 mission specialist, participates in the mission
ISS022-E-067184 (17 Feb. 2010) --- NASA astronauts Robert Behnken (left) and Nicholas Patrick, both STS-130 mission specialists, participate in the mission
ISS022-E-066963 (17 Feb. 2010) --- This image is among the first taken through a first of its kind "bay window" on the International Space Station, the seven-windowed Cupola. The image shows the coast of Algeria featuring (in the Cupola's round window) an area between the cities of Dellys and Algiers. The image was recorded with a digital still camera using a 28mm lens setting. The Cupola, which a week and half ago was brought up to the orbital outpost by the STS-130 crew on the space shuttle Endeavour, will house controls for the station robotics and will be a location where crew members can operate the robotic arms and monitor other exterior activities.
ISS022-E-066964 (17 Feb. 2010) --- NASA astronauts Terry Virts (left), STS-130 pilot; and Jeffrey Williams, Expedition 22 commander, pose for a photo near the windows in the newly-installed Cupola of the International Space Station while space shuttle Endeavour remains docked with the station.
ISS022-E-066976 (17 Feb. 2010) --- NASA astronauts Terry Virts (left), STS-130 pilot; and Stephen Robinson, mission specialist, pose for a photo near the windows in the newly-installed Cupola of the International Space Station while space shuttle Endeavour remains docked with the station.

Go Endeavour!

NASA, unleashed!

or, The “Apollo on Steroids” Critics Have Their Way

or, President Obama Comes Through On Space

I am simply thrilled at the prospects offered by the NASA budget released earlier today. In that budget, President Obama directed that NASA’s mission shift in scope in a dramatic way – a new paradigm, as all the media proclaim. That paradigm is this: NASA is going to stick its neck out. The space exploration business has grown to become incredibly risk-averse. NASA is now going to start experimenting more, trying new technologies, pushing the envelope, and playing with new strategies while leaving the more conservative aspects of spaceflight to others. NASA is going to lead while others follow. This ends a decades-long effort in which NASA was, essentially, playing catch-up with itself.

There’s a pretty good article about this on SpaceRef, and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden’s statement on the NASA budget is available online. The new budget also comes Buzz-approved! I read through Bolden’s statement carefully, and I think it has some very, very exciting things to say about the future of the space program. Continue reading NASA, unleashed!