#BeAnAstronaut: NASA Seeks Applicants to Explore Moon, Mars


NASA's new class of astronauts appear on stage during their graduation ceremony at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston

NASA’s new class of astronauts – the first to graduate since the agency announced its Artemis program – appear on stage during their graduation ceremony at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston on Jan. 10, 2020. The class includes 11 NASA candidates, as well as two Canadian Space Agency (CSA) candidates, selected in 2017. They will join the active astronaut corps, beginning careers in exploration that may take them to the International Space Station, on missions to the Moon under the Artemis program, or someday, Mars. Pictured from left are: Kayla Barron of NASA, Zena Cardman of NASA, Raja Chari of NASA, Matthew Dominick of NASA, Bob Hines of NASA, Warren Hoburg of NASA, Jonny Kim of NASA, Joshua Kutryk of CSA, Jasmin Moghbeli of NASA, Loral O’Hara of NASA, Jessica Watkins of NASA, Jennifer Sidey-Gibbons of CSA, and Frank Rubio of NASA.

Credits: NASA

For the first time in more than four years, NASA began accepting applications Monday for future astronauts. Aspiring Moon to Mars explorers have until 11:59 p.m. EDT Tuesday, March 31, to apply.

The call for more astronauts comes at a time when the agency is preparing to send the first woman and next man to the Moon with the Artemis program. Exploring the Moon during this decade will help prepare humanity for its next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

U.S. citizens may submit applications to #BeAnAstronaut at:


“America is closer than any other time in history since the Apollo program to returning astronauts to the Moon. We will send the first woman and next man to the lunar South Pole by 2024, and we need more astronauts to follow suit on the Moon, and then Mars,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We’re looking for talented men and women from diverse backgrounds and every walk of life to join us in this new era of human exploration that begins with the Artemis program to the Moon. If you have always dreamed of being an astronaut, apply now.”

NASA expects to select final astronaut candidates in mid-2021 to begin training as the next class of Artemis Generation astronauts. When the agency last sought astronaut candidates, in late 2015, a record-breaking 18,300 people applied. After more than two years of intensive training, 11 new astronauts selected from that pool graduated earlier this year in the first public graduation ceremony the agency has hosted.

“Becoming an astronaut is no easy task, because being an astronaut is no easy task,” said Steve Koerner, NASA’s director of flight operations and chair of the Astronaut Selection Board at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Those who apply will likely be competing against thousands who have dreamed of and worked toward going to space for as long as they can remember. But somewhere among those applicants are our next astronauts, and we look forward to meeting you.”

Since the 1960s, NASA has selected 350 people to train as astronaut candidates for its increasingly challenging missions to explore space. With 48 astronauts in the active astronaut corps, more will be needed to serve as crew aboard spacecraft bound for multiple destinations and propel exploration forward as part of Artemis missions and beyond.

The basic requirements to apply include United States citizenship and a master’s degree in a STEM field, including engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science, or mathematics, from an accredited institution. The requirement for the master’s degree can also be met by:

  • Two years (36 semester hours or 54 quarter hours) of work toward a Ph.D. program in a related science, technology, engineering or math field;
  • A completed doctor of medicine or doctor of osteopathic medicine degree;
  • Completion (or current enrollment that will result in completion by June 2021) of a nationally or internationally recognized test pilot school program. However, if test pilot school is your only advanced degree, you must also have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a STEM field.

Candidates also must have at least two years of related, progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Astronaut candidates must pass the NASA long-duration spaceflight physical.

As part of the application process, applicants will, for the first time, be required to take an online assessment that will require up to two hours to complete.

After completing training, the new astronauts could launch on American rockets and spacecraft — developed for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program — to live and work aboard the International Space Station, 250 miles above Earth. There they will take part in experiments that benefit life at home and prepare us for the Moon and Mars.

They also may launch on NASA’s powerful new Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, docking at the Gateway in lunar orbit before taking a new human landing system to the Moon’s surface. After returning humans to the Moon in 2024, NASA plans to send astronauts to the lunar surface once per year on expeditions and establish sustainable lunar exploration by 2028. Gaining new experiences on and around the Moon will prepare NASA to send the first humans to Mars in the mid-2030s.

For more information about a career as a NASA astronaut, and application requirements, visit:



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Joel O'Bryan
March 2, 2020 6:54 pm

They need to put eggs and sperm on ice if they want to have any reproductive plans post-mission. And a Living Will for when they come back a cognitive vegetable from the radiation, if they come back.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 3, 2020 7:05 am

That explains why all the Apollo astronauts were vegetables after their journeys.

Gordon Dressler
March 2, 2020 7:05 pm

“We will send the first woman and next man to the lunar South Pole by 2024 . . .” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

I did not until now that administrators of large governmental programs were allowed to use recreational drugs to such a heavy extent.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Gordon Dressler
March 2, 2020 7:46 pm

It’ll be a quickie. Like Apollo.
Just enough to keep the Manned space budget money spigot flowing

Gordon Dressler
Reply to  Gordon Dressler
March 2, 2020 8:32 pm

Uhhh . . . make the start of that last sentence of mine above “I did not know until now that . . .”

Curious George
Reply to  Gordon Dressler
March 3, 2020 9:20 am

Is the transgender community represented sufficiently?

Gordon Dressler
Reply to  Curious George
March 3, 2020 11:09 am

CG, you need to move with the times. Today’s question is: “Is the LGBTQIA+ community represented fairly?”
(ref: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/style/lgbtq-gender-language.html )

I do believe NASA is going to need a bigger lunar lander.

David Woloctt
March 2, 2020 7:08 pm

If they want astronauts who can stay sane on long-haul space fights like Mars, they shouldn’t be looking at fit, healthy, bright, talented men and women who relate well socially. They won’t last the distance psychologically. They should select gamers, who are used to sitting alone in their bedroom for years, eating bad food, not seeing anyone, and performing complex electronic tasks. Problem solved.

Reply to  David Woloctt
March 3, 2020 12:35 pm

That actually makes a lot more sense than you think.

March 2, 2020 7:38 pm

Selecting astronauts based on PC identity is a disaster waiting to happen. The ONLY criteria should be who is the best, regardless of sex, race etc.

March 2, 2020 7:53 pm

Is it inaccurate for me to say that the vast majority of what we will ever know about the Moon we already know? Or is it accurate? What about Mars? I’m interested in reading what you think.

Reply to  Luke
March 2, 2020 10:19 pm

We don’t know if there is mineable water in the lunar polar regions.
“NASA announced on March 5, 1998, that data obtained from Clementine indicated that there is enough water in polar craters of the Moon to support a human colony and a rocket fueling station”
And since that time many other robotic exploration missions have attempted to location and quantify lunar water.
And Lunar experts have predicted that there may be over 10 billion tonnes of water in the lunar polar region.
But manned missions are needed to determine if there could be mineable lunar water- though I could argue that a robotic lunar sample return, might be sufficient. Or if send crew to lunar polar surface AND didn’t plan to get core samples, it would seem fairly pointless to me.
And other then a tiny sample return by the Soviets robotic mission, the only lunar sample returns we have of the Moon was from the crewed landing of Apollo.
And no one has landed anything in the lunar polar region, before- unless you count deliberate crash landings/impacts:
“NASA’s LCROSS mission culminated with two lunar impacts at 11:31 and 11:36 UTC on October 9. The goal of the impact was the search for water in the Cabeus crater near the Moon’s south pole, and preliminary results indicated the presence of both water and hydroxyl, an ion related to water.”

What I would count as mineable lunar water, is if one can extract enough water and it could sold for about $500 per kg [or $500,000 per ton]. And mining site which could extract 10,000 tons of water {5 billion dollars of water}. And within football field area, one should be able to extract about this much or more.

-What about Mars? –
Finding cheap water on Mars would something needed for Mars Settlements,
but you looking for millions or billions of tonnes of water and a lot cheaper than $500 per kg. Something like $1 per kg {$1000 per ton or 1 billion dollar per 1 million tonnes Mars water] which is more than hundreds of times the cost of water on Earth. But very cheap water on Mars.

But there is lot things to explore on Moon and Mars, just as we continue to explore Earth. But finding mineable lunar water would then allow such “endless amount of lunar exploration” to be done, at a reasonable cost.
One aspect is the lunar surface holds “the record of our solar system”

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  gbaikie
March 2, 2020 11:19 pm

There is no water on the Moon.
There is likely at very large amount of ice at around -200 ºC in those craters.
So you gotta mine a block of ice of some size, lift it several hundreds meters in 1/6 g to get it to the sunlight to melt. But simply putting it in sunlight in avacuum will sublimate the ice to vapor where it is gone. So a containment/capture vessel would be needed.

Not as easy as you might think without do all the steps and applying engineering calculations of work and needed energy sources along the way.

Engineers think about those things.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 3, 2020 2:57 am

–Joel O’Bryan March 2, 2020 at 11:19 pm
There is no water on the Moon.
There is likely at very large amount of ice at around -200 ºC in those craters.
So you gotta mine a block of ice of some size, lift it several hundreds meters in 1/6 g to get it to the sunlight to melt. But simply putting it in sunlight in a vacuum will sublimate the ice to vapor where it is gone. So a containment/capture vessel would be needed.–

What I mean by mineable lunar water is lunar regolith mixed with 10% or more water concentration.
And if there was blocks or slabs of ice, this would be a lot easier..

Btw, it would require a lot of time in direct sunlight to evaporate much of it. Or would not be much different than handling ice in summer on Earth- though I guess it would be more like dry ice {frozen CO2}.

Anyhow, it’s possible getting the water ice, could be this easy.
Or, the best would 5% or less water concentration within the lunar regolith.
[[Which like going outside your door with a shovel, digging up some dirt, and then extracting the water from the dirt.}}
But we don’t know what dealing with, and estimate what should be in an area, then land and see how close this prediction actually was.

Reply to  gbaikie
March 3, 2020 2:22 pm

“This mosaic covers the polar area northwards of 80° latitude; the area shown is about 600 km across.”

How big is a lunar pole area? You could say it’s about 600 km across or 300 km in radius or 300 squared times Pi = 262,600 square km.
But with Earth, one might limit the Earth’s polar region to the areas within the arctic circle, and if applied same rule to the Moon, the lunar polar area is much smaller than 600 km across.
Earth’s arctic circle is related to the Earth’s tilt to the Sun which about 23.5 degree, and Moon’s tilt to the Sun is much less the 10 degrees- it’s about 1.5 degrees {btw, each degree has distance of about 30 km on the Moon and on Earth it’s about 111 km}.
But there are good reasons regard that Lunar polar region is roughly about 600 km across because within this region one might find higher concentration of lunar water.
And one could expect this, because within this region, the sun is always lower at the horizon or the sun is always low enough to cast long shadows. And this similar to polar regions of Earth, one can spend a fair amount of time walking around casting long shadows. But in this 10 degree radius region of the Moon this effect is far more dramatic- it’s always to case, and shadows are always seeming to be longer. And on clear day anywhere on Earth, at any time the sun is less than 10 degrees above the horizon {near dawn and sunset} one has a similar effect.
But with lunar polar region, it’s a permanent and more stark condition. And one might called this place, the land of the shadows. But if lived on lunar mountains, you live above the land of shadows [in the shining city of the hill].
Or since there is small craters everywhere, the land of the endless potholes or in region of glowing mountains.
And of course anywhere on the Moon, and at morning or sunset you get the same thing, but because it’s permanent in polar region it effect possibility of having volatilizes in the permanently dark craters. Plus sunlight lit regions which are at low angle to the sunlight will not become hot from the sunlight, the 1360 watts per square meter sunlight is spread out over more area and it could be say 100 watts per square meter of sunlight on the level ground area.
{{Something held so it’s perpendicular to sunlight, gets 1360 watts per meter, and the further away from perpendicular, the surface is, the less sunlight per square meter it gets.}}

So, mostly always cold, even in sunlight, and has lots of shadows. But if something is directly facing the sunlight, it’s made hot by the sunlight.

Reply to  gbaikie
March 2, 2020 11:25 pm

I take it that what I wrote is accurate, then, if no mineable water is actually found?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Luke
March 3, 2020 6:29 am

“Is it inaccurate for me to say that the vast majority of what we will ever know about the Moon we already know?”

I think to really understand the Moon, human beings have to explore it. We don’t know what we don’t know. To know, we have to go look.

Reply to  Luke
March 3, 2020 7:07 am

The total area of the moon explored by men is less than a square mile.
We’ve barely begun to explore beneath the surface.

high treason
March 2, 2020 8:09 pm

What has happened with NASA in the last 20 years is that they start some project, spend lots of money, then can it, citing lack of money. This wastes a huge amount of money and no science. On the other hand, they are happy to tow the PC climate science rubbish. How about spending a few bucks recreating the Arrhenius experiments , but improving them by examining how long the heat is retained after the light is stopped. This would be a simple and cheap experiment to perform. When they find the heat does not get retained for long, then they can save billions on the climate junk science that uses fudged data. Using fudged date (to fit the political narrative) means that ALL of their climate work is worthless rubbish and a waste of many, many millions.

John Robertson
March 2, 2020 9:47 pm

Strikes me their criteria is all wrong.
If you want a manned base built on the Moon or a manned mission to Mars,why would you want a Masters degree in STEM ?Those people are safer left on earth,safer for everyone.

Tradesmen past their best before date,for breeding, would be a much better choice.
The biggest hazard is hard radiation.
Major genetic damage.
So send men and women who no longer care.
The first Astronauts were war veterans,they had “The Right Stuff” and a just do it attitude.
The “Safety First” graduates of today are totally unsuited for truly dangerous missions.

Where as skilled workers with an interest in retiring to 1/6th Earth Gravity,might be a much better choice.
In fact retired deep sea divers have a skill set almost tailored for working in a spacesuit.
And face it,we do not know and cannot anticipate every hazard moon workers will face,so there will be deaths,injury and mystery illnesses..
So why waste the young?

March 2, 2020 10:40 pm

I’ll do it . . .

JPP – but I am 76 … does that disqualify me ?


Rod Evans
March 2, 2020 10:52 pm

Well I for one hope NASA rediscovers its core objective along with its national and international role. It has been fiddling around for far too long, on earth based activities surrounding climate alarmism and has ignored doing, the right stuff!
When NASA sticks with space based research and exploration, there is no organisation on Earth better at it . No other organisation on Earth has the commanding success or history that NASA has. It must junk the pathetic woke PC brigade that have driven the agenda for the past few years. The clue is in the name, go after real science, providing real discoveries, through innovation, in space.
Good luck to them.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Rod Evans
March 2, 2020 11:24 pm

My near term hope would be for a President and NASA Administrator who puts GISS back to its original chartered purpose. A purpose of studying Space weather and near Earth space physics.
As such probably most of the leadership at GISS would be fired, told to retire, or moved/transferred to another GS position to NOAA to study climate.

We’ve been suffering with the disaster of James Hansen and his environmental activism-turned religion for 35+ years now and it’s past time to end it.

Reply to  Rod Evans
March 3, 2020 9:44 am

Other presidents fiddled with the program with varying degrees of success without causing harm

Kennedy (& Ike) incorporated the aim of increased cooperation/dialog with a main opponents … Russia.

Obama (trying to mimic those who came before him & showing just how deluded/stupid he is) suggested incorporating muslim outreach/cooperation into the NASA program(s).

Trump could follow suit and use NASA to somehow help mitigate harm from
our current most dangerous adversary/enemy. It would take some creativity though, because it seems that the democrat/progressive wing is already fairly involved (entrenched) in the NASA ranks.

March 2, 2020 11:05 pm

Space flight, especially beyond Earth orbit is still a significantly risky business. So I’m thinking those who are in the drivers seats still need to be Service flyers of established rank, and who’ve maybe experienced the stress of dangerous situations ?

Of course there may be some women who fall into that category, but the reality is that female representation is going to be much less than 50%

Its all hyperbole anyway, there’s no nation on the planet thats anywhere close to mounting missions to the Moon within the next decade.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Fanakapan
March 2, 2020 11:34 pm

In many regards, women are more suited to space travel and low g than men. Physical strength is not needed in space. Physical size in small compartments is a disadvantage. Higher metabolism on long voyages with limiting air, food, and water is a disadvantage.

Stamina with reduced metabolism and with high intelligence is more likely to be found in a female of the same age than a man.

It is only an evolutionary instinct related to procreation and protection of the next generation that has ingrained in men the need to feel like they need to protect a woman.

March 3, 2020 6:08 am

Don’t send humans to the Moon or Mars. Human bodies don’t belong in space or on other planets and moons. The cost is prohibitive, there is nothing of value out there, and if the crew isn’t killed by a catastrophic mission failure, they will die from exposure to radiation outside the Earth’s protective magnetic field.
Stay on the Earth. There’s no place like home.

Jay Sport
Reply to  MikeW
March 3, 2020 7:58 am

I cannot tell if this is sarcasm or not, but you are correct. Why send humans to the moon, Mars or even low earth orbit? What is the goal? Simple exploration? You can accomplish all of these things faster, cheaper and better with rovers and drones. Sending humans into space is a ridiculous waste of money. Attempting to send humans into space with the intent of colonization is simply ludicrous. It makes for great fantasy and fiction, but it will never be reality.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Jay Sport
March 3, 2020 12:13 pm

If we want to assure the continuation of the human race, then the human race will have to move into space.

The purpose of everything that comes before is to teach humans how to successfully live and work in space.

Absent another large asteriod strike, I think there will eventually be millions of human beings living in space in large habitat structures that provide everything needed for human life including artificial gravity equivalent to the gravity at Earth’s surface.

If we stay here on Earth one catastrophic event could get us all.

Curious George
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 3, 2020 2:38 pm

Some day, maybe. But we don’t have the necessary technology yet. Right now we are as Neanderthals dreaming about flight. By the way, their brain was 25% bigger than ours.

Jay Sport
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 3, 2020 5:42 pm

As I said, it makes for great fantasy. Interstellar space isn’t just another ocean that we are going to sail across.

Russ Wood
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 7, 2020 6:31 am

Asteroids – Nature’s way of asking “How’s that space program going?”

Reply to  Jay Sport
March 3, 2020 1:03 pm

Why is eventual colonization ludicrous?

Jay Sport
Reply to  MarkW
March 3, 2020 5:33 pm

Do you know of any earth like planets within reach? I certainly do not know of any.

Reply to  Jay Sport
March 3, 2020 3:13 pm

“I cannot tell if this is sarcasm or not, but you are correct. Why send humans to the moon, Mars or even low earth orbit? What is the goal? Simple exploration?”
” You can accomplish all of these things faster, cheaper and better with rovers and drones. ”
No, you can’t.
One aspect of “Simple exploration” is returning material to Earth where it can studied thoroughly.
So, we would know very little about the Moon, without the Apollo crew returning the lunar samples.
And without including the sample return portion of crew exploration of the Moon, we discovered a lot things we would not have discovered with using crew.
There is many aspects of this.
One aspect is the Apollo Program did an enormous a lot of robotic exploration, in order to allow the possibility to put man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth. And this enormous amount of robotic exploration failed to discover many key aspect of the Moon.
One thing robotic exploration did, was to allow some high degree of confidence that the crew craft would not sink into a huge amount of dust- which was imagined might the situation on the lunar surface.
One could say that Apollo program “wiped out” an enormous amount ignorant regarding the Moon and other bodies in Space. Or I would say, we didn’t even know how stupid we were.

And mention one other aspect about “how stupid we were”. We now know {due to Apollo Program} that space impactors hit Earth.
And that has many, many ramifications, which we have yet to realize- 50 years later. Or in simple terms, we now know most of craters on the Moon are not mostly caused by volcanic activity.

But simple way to know that you are wrong, is, ask people who are actually involved to robotic space exploration- they will tell you, manned exploration is needed- because it’s cheaper and faster- and we need get even more robotic exploration of space as result.
Humans exploring space, need lots robotic exploration to do their job as quickly and safely as possible.

Jay Sport
Reply to  gbaikie
March 3, 2020 5:28 pm
Tom Abbott
March 3, 2020 6:33 am

The last I heard, the International Space Station was going to be retired about the year 2025. Is this still the plan?

Jay Sport
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 3, 2020 7:49 am

Hopefully. What an incredible waste of billions of dollars. I think I read that the total cost of the ISS over the projected life of the project will be 120-130 billion dollars. Think of all the real science that could have been accomplished with that money. You could buy a lot of rovers, drones and space telescopes with that money instead of wasting it as NASA has. We will never see a return in science for the billions wasted on the ISS. A space station that we cannot even reach on our own, for the second time in the short history of NASA.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Jay Sport
March 3, 2020 12:35 pm

All due to poor planning. We should already have people on both the Moon and around Mars. We could have done it for about the cost of the International Space Station.

But NASA’s leader at the time was only interested in flying the Space Shuttle as much as possible, to justify the program and to keep the taxmoney money rolling in, and to do that, Goldin (that was his name) promoted a space station program that required dozens of shuttle launches and many years to put everything in orbit. Thus maximizing the use of the space shuttle.

Goldin could have accomplished the same thing with just a couple of shuttle launches by converting the Space Shuttle’s External Tank into a space station by attaching a fully-equipped habitation module to the bottom of the External Tank and then using three space shuttle enginies to launch the whole configuration into orbit.

Once in orbit, the External Tank would be emptied of any leftover propellants and would than be used as living and working space. The entire structure is bigger than the International Space Station.

A couple of space shuttle launches for the ET space station as compared to about three dozen space shuttle launches to put the entire International Space Station in orbit.

And the ET space station was much cheaper, too. It was officially called NASA’s Option C when they were picking which design to build back in 1994.

Then we could have launched an ET space station to orbit the Moon and we could put one orbiting Mars. And with Buzz Aldrins Earth/Mars cyclers, we could travel back and forth between Earth orbit and Mars orbit.

NASA needed a visionary but they didn’t have one, they had a bureaucrat running things.

The space shuttle was capable of orbiting an External Tank if it was not carrying a large payload. All the shuttle had to do was hang on to the ET and then take it on into orbit with it.

One hundred ET’s along with suitable attachment hardware could be used to create a wagon wheel-shaped space station one mile in diameter, which could be rotated at one revolution per minute, which would produce artficial gravity on the outside ring of the wheel that would be equivalent to the gravity on the Earth’s surface. A “2001 Space Odessey-type” space station.

The space shuttle was launched 133 times.

For lack of vision, the People (and space programs) perish.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 3, 2020 6:40 pm

“One hundred ET’s along with suitable attachment hardware could be used to create a wagon wheel-shaped space station one mile in diameter, which could be rotated at one revolution per minute, which would produce artficial gravity on the outside ring of the wheel that would be equivalent to the gravity on the Earth’s surface. A “2001 Space Odessey-type” space station.”

Got to look at those numbers, it seems unlikely unless “suitable attachment hardware” is significant part of it.

A mile in diameter is 3.14 miles in circumference. Or 5 km in circumference. ET are about 47 meter high, so 100 is 4700 meter or 4.7 km. Hmm
And with about 1 rpm:
So, that works out.
Next question is would you want it?
It’s enormous amount of “living space” to have in orbit. It seems it would be difficult to dock with it {and difficult to build and spin it to 1 rpm} and difficult to move from the opposite side to the other side.
It would have very low density or a large amount drag if in Low Earth Orbit. And huge “target”/cross section in terms of space debris.
It does not seem to provide an easy way to have solar arrays- though it could be ok, in this regard, depending on it’s location/ orbit.
And what do you do, in terms of station keeping and/or moving it to different places in space {and perhaps a similar issue as assembling it and deploying it, in the first place}.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  gbaikie
March 4, 2020 4:45 am

The “2001 A Space Odessey” ET space station was just a thought experiment, but it does go to show that we human beings could have put enough material in orbit to have built something like that.

Not that we needed to do that. It would have been easier and cheaper to put two ET’s in orbit and then put one at each end of a mile-long cable and spin those two around the center at one revolution per minute and that produces one Earth gravity equivalent in each ET.

This type of structure would allow us to simulate the Moon’s gravity and Mars gravity, by placing habitation modules at suitable locations along the cable. The closer to the center you go the less artificial gravity you feel.

This is also the configuration we should use for our transportation needs to Mars. This way we can have artifical gravity all the way to Mars and back using Buzz Aldrin’s cycling space station concept where habitat modules are put into certain orbits where they cycle back and forth between Earth orbit and Mars orbit, while using very little propellants after initial orbit insertion, and humans get on board as they come close to Earth and then are taken on a ride to Mars. Give the astronauts enough water ice shielding and we solve the two biggest obstacles to traveling in space: long periods of zero gravity and space radiation.

If NASA in its wisdom decides to retire the International Space Station, they should use some of those space station modules for transportation to and from Mars. Or allow private space enterprises to use them that way. Ole Musk may be interested. I can’t imagine they would throw perfectly good habitation modules away. They doesn’t mean they won’t.

Reply to  gbaikie
March 4, 2020 8:59 pm

“If NASA in its wisdom decides to retire the International Space Station, they should use some of those space station modules for transportation to and from Mars. Or allow private space enterprises to use them that way. Ole Musk may be interested. I can’t imagine they would throw perfectly good habitation modules away. They doesn’t mean they won’t.”

I agree that NASA should do something with ISS, other than de-orbit it.

And I agree that NASA will probably de-orbit ISS.
And following such predictable stupidity, I think every one of the thousands of NASA personnel should be horse whipped.

Medieval torture seems to be, the only possible cure.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 3, 2020 6:03 pm

I think NASA is still trying to figure out how to safely “retire” ISS. Last I knew (and I know this is way out of date), NASA’s John Bacon was leading a task force to plan it out. One of the leading concepts was to get everyone but two Russian cosmonauts off of the station, and have four Progress modules and one Soyuz attached. The ISS would be kept in a low-drag attitude while the Progress module propulsion systems lowered its orbit to around 100 km. The cosmonauts would then get in the Soyuz and hightail it out, hoping that nothing goes wrong. The remaining Progress propulsion would then lower the perigee to less than 70 km. Statistically, satellite demise overwhelmingly takes place at 70 km. This would be done such that the debris enters over the broad ocean area of the south Pacific west of South America.

Sounds “simple,” doesn’t it? There are, however, a number – a large number – of uncertainties involved. At 100 km, for example, the atmospheric drag can vary by orders of magnitude depending on solar activity (among other things). Further, the demise altitude is really uncertain. One other big satellite, Skylab, didn’t demise until 16 kilometers up. And counting on the four Progress modules to precisely deliver the final delta v with any precision is sporty, at best.

The uncertainty matters, because no matter where ISS comes down, it is expected to have a debris footprint 12,000 kilometers long. Statistically, about 40% of the mass of a satellite makes it to the ground. On its way to the ground, it passes through airspace through which air traffic also passes. ISS weighs about 1,000,000 pounds. We’d be looking at 200 tons of debris passing through the airspace and landing somewhere on Earth.

NASA missed the target for Skylab by about 7,600 km (downrange error). While deorbiting ISS on a descending node over the south Pacific west of South America would be forgiving in terms of hitting downrange land masses in case of a downrange miss, it wouldn’t be so great for an uprange miss. Huge air traffic corridors, shipping lanes, and large numbers of islands would be at risk.

It isn’t an easy problem. I doubt if it will be solved before Commercial Crew starts flying, regardless of how long NASA manages to delay that.

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
March 3, 2020 7:41 pm

I think de-orbiting ISS is huge PR mistake.

I would spend 20 times the planned cost of de-orbiting ISS to instead put it into an Earth high orbit, to avoid the NASA PR loss.
And if ISS is de-orbiting or “falls out sky” from mismangement/”series of accidents”, and has the unlikely results of killing someone, it becomes a FAR WORSE PR problem.
And then all the clowns involved with making such a call, should all immediately quit their jobs, and hope that they aren’t put in jail for murder.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
March 4, 2020 5:06 am

Thanks for all that detail, Michael. I had no idea they were planning on deorbiting the entire space station at one time! It sounds crazy. How about them doing one module at a time? That sounds like a better alternative to me.

What do you think about repurposing the space station habitat modules, Michael? We could create experimental artificial gravity habitats out of a couple of them, and a little bit of cable strung between the two. We need a space station around the Moon. We need an orbital transfer vehicle for the Earth/Moon system. We need habitat modules to take our crews to Mars.

We already have these habitation modules in orbit at a very large cost. The last thing we should do is throw them away if they can still be used.

March 3, 2020 2:15 pm

And the job requirements say No Security Clearance required.
While I’m sure they at least will get a background check, I really don’t understand letting someone pilot a SLS machine with over 3,000,000 lbf without one.

But that’s just me.

Flight Level
March 3, 2020 2:38 pm

Based on their previous scientific and moral integrity in the climate field, “driving” for them is not an option.

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