Dedicated to the Health and Safety of the Personal Space Traveler

Friday, March 4, 2011

Astronaut Garrett Reisman Joins SpaceX

" Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is proud to announce that NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman is joining the company as a senior engineer working on astronaut safety and mission assurance.

“We’re excited about the great team that we are building. Our talent is the key to our success. Garrett’s experience designing and using spaceflight hardware will be invaluable as we prepare the spacecraft that will carry the next generation of explorers,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Technology Officer.

Dr. Reisman will join former NASA astronaut Ken Bowersox’s team in preparing SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts. In December, Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to successfully return from orbit. In the coming years, NASA will use Dragon for at least 12 cargo missions to the International Space Station, creating strong flight experience before the first manned mission.

“I am excited to help SpaceX because I care deeply about the future of human spaceflight,” said Dr. Reisman. “I see commercial spaceflight as our country's best option for a robust and sustainable human spaceflight future.”

Beyond safety, Dr. Reisman’s experience as an operator of both American and Russian spaceflight hardware will help SpaceX in the development of human interfaces including controls, displays, seats, suits and environmental control systems.

“After the Space Shuttle's last flight later this year, America will be dependent on our Russian partners for getting NASA astronauts to space. NASA's commercial crew development program is our only hope for a quick, safe and affordable alternative, and SpaceX is well-positioned to lead this effort given the strength of their performance during the NASA COTS program,” said Reisman.

Both the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft have been designed from the start to one day carry astronauts.

Dr. Reisman comes to SpaceX from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration where he has served since 1998. He has flown on two Space Shuttle missions, which include launching with STS-123 and returning with the STS-124 crew, as well as flying on STS-132. During these two missions, he logged over 3 months in space including over 21 hours of extravehicular activity (EVA) in 3 spacewalks. Dr. Reisman served with both the Expedition-16 and the Expedition-17 crews as a Flight Engineer aboard the International Space Station. Early in his time at NASA he was assigned to the Astronaut Office Robotics Branch, worked in the Astronaut Office Advanced Vehicles Branch, and was a crewmember on NEEMO V in 2003, living on the bottom of the sea in the Aquarius habitat for two weeks.

Dr. Reisman holds a B.S. in Economics and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania, a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology. He is an FAA Certified Flight Instructor. Dr. Reisman is from Parsippany, New Jersey. "

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Project Apollo-- a unique convergence of factors, never to be repeated again?

Jeff Foust (the Space Review) posted his review of the new book entitled, "John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon" by John Logsdon.

Jeff notes that "Logsdon... now believes that Apollo was perhaps something unique, a case where a set of factors 'almost coincidentally converged to create a national commitment and enough momentum to support that commitment through to its fulfillment.' If that's true, then 'there is little to learn from the decision to go to the Moon relevant to twenty-first century choices.' Apollo then, should be treated not as a model for future space efforts, but instead as an amazing achievement particular to the circumstances of its era, including the leadership provided by President Kennedy."

Phew! If I read this right, we were lucky to have witnessed this amazing event no only because of its audacity... but also because it may very well be a singular event in our lifetime. What a depressing thought for the future of interplanetary exploration.

What say you? Are we doomed to mediocrity and no more "giant leaps for mankind?"