In both cases we’re referring to piles and piles of 100 dollar US bills, called “benjamins” because they contain pictures of American historical icon Ben Franklin engraved on them. But in our specific case, the money being referred to relates to the Augustine Committee final report on Human Spaceflight, which is expected to be released this Thursday.
Most of us already know that the Summary Report of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee concludes that ” The U.S. human spaceflight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory. It is perpetuating the perilous practice of pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources.” Augustine believes that there is simply not enough money for NASA to do anything new (or even to properly maintain the existing infrastructure) without piles and piles of new money and no one is quite sure yet where where that new funding will come from.
Until this new money shows up miraculously at the doorstep, NASA will need to reassure existing partners (like Canada) that the agency will maintain enough ongoing capabilities to continue with existing relationships. After all, nobody at NASA wants their international partners to bolt for the door in a mad dash to develop their own independent capabilities or partner with the Russians or even perhaps someone else (especially now when partners are needed to help share the load).
So with that in mind, here are a couple of quick points on this week in space for Canada.
NASA has announced that Canadian astronauts access to the ISS will continue after shuttle is retired, because NASA will pay the Russians to fly Canadians to the space station in the same Soyuz spacecraft as Guy Lalibert used for his space adventure earlier this month. According to the article, Lalibert received a deal, getting his slot for $35 million when the US is expected to be charged $51 million per person starting in 2016.
As a follow-on to the above, although no Canadian astronauts are scheduled to go into orbit or visit the International Space Station in the new future, NASA’s current crop of nine new astronaut candidates plus five international trainees from Canada and Japan are presently undertaking NASA astronaut training at the Johnson Space Center in Texas according to the article “Astronaut hopefuls don’t mind being ‘Chumps‘” which was posted recently on the MSNBC website. According to the article, the term “chump” is actually part of a class tradition that dates past decades and doesn’t directly refer to any recent events.
According to the article “Round Trip to Mars: 39 Days or Less” a new ion propulsion engine “designed mainly by Canada although it was an international effort as more countries were involved in the project” will one day allow one way trips to Mars in just 39 days. This “ion” rocket, according to Canadian astronaut Chris Hatfield in the article, “New Rocket Mission to Mars Possible” is able to both conserves fuel and dramatically decreases travel time. It may even allow astronauts to make a return trip to Mars during a single close pass between the planets.
That’s all for this week.