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#1 2019-10-06 10:21:44

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,108
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NASA Unsolicited Proposal Handbook

NASA page

I'm going to have a read through. This could be an avenue for us to explore on this forum. I'm particularly interested in proposing an egg centrifuge to study embryonic development in partial gravity, since it's never been done before and it would be a lot easier than using pregnant rats. I'm sure there are others.

Do you think if we crowdfund the money for them, NASA would be willing to fly them? Or other partners on the station?


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#2 2019-10-06 12:14:14

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,181

Re: NASA Unsolicited Proposal Handbook

Guess what I found under the  Mars Gravity Biosatellite folder or The Trans-Life Experiment Egg centrifuge by Terraformer

I agree any way that we can we should to promote mars experiments and if crowfunding can do it why not.
Maybe this could be an egg beaters sponsoring moment as well...ha ha..
All kidding aside we are not making any progress towards going to the prize again...

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#3 2019-10-06 15:25:17

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,108
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Re: NASA Unsolicited Proposal Handbook

Having read it, it looks like they're looking for companies and universities to make proposals for seeking funding. Does the Mars Society have a list of organisations that could be candidates?


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#4 2019-10-06 16:53:07

tahanson43206
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Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 1,072

Re: NASA Unsolicited Proposal Handbook

For SpaceNut re Terraformer #3

Is there any reason the Mars Society itself cannot be one of the organizations bidding for contracts?

(th)

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#5 2019-10-07 03:04:40

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,108
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Re: NASA Unsolicited Proposal Handbook

I don't think the Mars Society has its own labs and facilities? It seems to be a requirement, since they're expecting you to actually build the equipment you're proposing.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#6 2019-10-07 05:06:33

tahanson43206
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Registered: 2018-04-27
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Re: NASA Unsolicited Proposal Handbook

For Terraformer ... re #5 ...

In the absence of a comment by someone who actually speaks for the Mars Society, I would like to point out that labs and facilities are add-ons to an organization. An organization can add whatever features it needs to achieve whatever goals it sets for itself.

A contract is a mechanism for securing compensation sufficient to cover the costs of any add-ons that may be added. 

The quality of management is the deciding factor for funding agencies. 

The quality of management of this forum appears (to me at least) to be high.  For that reason, I am encouraged to think that long term goals such as My Hacienda are achievable.

In the case of THIS topic, what I cannot know is whether anyone in the Mars Society has the time and energy to make the preparations that would be needed to participate in the competition.

(th)

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#7 2019-10-07 07:31:19

Terraformer
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From: Lancashire
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,108
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Re: NASA Unsolicited Proposal Handbook

Does the National Space Society have any facilities of its own? I think the Planetary Society does.

Are there any research organisations dedicated to space colonisation? If not, it would be worth setting one up.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#8 2019-10-07 09:38:40

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
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Re: NASA Unsolicited Proposal Handbook

Dr Zubrin's company, Pioneer Astronautics, landed a few contracts. He has a unit in an industrial park.
02fef11527023dc907922021703dbde8202dd411_400x260_crop.jpg

I hesitate to post this, but the Mars Society is not set up for real research. I joined the society in 1999; it was founded in 1998. I purchased the book "The Case for Mars" in the spring of 1998, it described the "Case for Mars" conferences held once every 3 years, the next one was later that same year. I would have liked to attend, but couldn't afford it. That conference became the founding convention of the Mars Society. If I had gone, I could call myself a founding member.

There was an internet forum right away, predecessor to this one. Several of us on that forum wanted to do real projects, not just watch and not just political advocacy. After debating it, I setup a vote for which project we should do. The majority voted to send a weather balloon to Mars. For real. I found 3 other groups within the society already working on a balloon. I got them all to work together. I called for volunteers to work on it. Dr Zubrin himself had landed a contract with JPL to build a test balloon. Dr Zubrin's idea was a black balloon held in a hard clam-shell container, pre-filled with methanol. The test carried the clam-shell under a weather balloon until it reached the same altitude and temperature as Mars atmosphere. The clam-shell opened, reduced pressure caused the methanol to boil, filling the black balloon. It worked. The reason the balloon was coloured black was to heat the gas from sunlight. So it would float during the day, descend at night. A weighted "snake" would be dangled beneath the balloon on Mars, with instruments to test Mars soil. At night the balloon would descend until the weighted "snake" would lie on the ground. Once the balloon no longer supported the weight, it would stop descending. Morning sunlight would heat the balloon, giving it more lift, so it would take-off again to sample a different location. I thought this was brilliant! So I proposed we use the same balloon concept. My proposal is the balloon would fill while hanging under the parachute during Mars atmospheric entry, so it would never land.

All Mars orbiters since the '90s have included a "Mars Antenna"; the first was MGS. The idea is a Mars rover or lander or balloon could transmit data to the orbiter, to be stored in the orbiter's memory. JPL could then send a command to relay that data to Earth. So I wanted to include a radio on our balloon that could transmit to that antenna. We didn't need to transmit all the way to Earth ourselves.

The Society charter says we would "eventually" hitch a ride on a NASA mission to Mars. But I asked why wait that long, let's send one ourselves. We could hitch a ride to space on the Space Shuttle as a Get-Away-Special. Enter Earth orbit. Then use an ion engine to slowly spiral out of Earth orbit, use the Moon for gravity assist, then proceed on to Mars. The Moon it too small to give much a gravity assist, but it's something. I described this architecture to one individual from the European Space Agency at the "Humans In Space" Symposium. ESA then used it to send a mission to the Moon.

I contacted the Glenn Research Centre to find what I could get about the NSTAR Ion engine. That's the engine for Deep Space One, which had just flown in space. They had the lead engineer return my call. He said NASA hired Russian engineers to teach them all about the TAL Hall thruster that they developed. He was pleased that I was interested in his work. He mailed to me everything on NSTAR authorized for export outside the US. This includes schematics and in-flight performance report. As he put it, everything short of the blueprints. I still have them, everything needed to build one.

I contacted the Small Payloads Project office, in charge of small payloads on Shuttle. The director said a Get-Away Special cost US$8,000 for a US educational institution, US$27,000 for anyone else. But that's to go up and come down. If you go up and release from the Shuttle, stay in space, it's $2 million. He apologized, saying he disagreed with it, but senior NASA management made that decision. They didn't want to compete with commercial launchers. But he said that with my connections I could get a NASA agency (as he put it) to sponsor our project. If I got that, then we get a free ride on Shuttle. And he gave me the NASA form number that I need them to sign. At the time several NASA researchers were on the Mars Society board of directors.

A Get-Away Special could carry 200 pounds in a container about the size of an oil barrel. But that's to go up and come down. To release, there's a release mechanism. With that mechanism, there's room for 150 pounds of our probe. A Get-Away special is tucked in an unused corner of the Shuttle's cargo bay when the primary mission doesn't completely fill the cargo bay. Unfortunately, after Columbia accident, NASA announced they wouldn't carry any more small explorers on Shuttle. So that killed our ride to space.

We got a number of highly talented individuals to work on the project. At the time I was a software developer working on the QNX operating system. That operating system was used for the vision system on CanadArm. It's a high reliability version of Unix, primary competition to VxWorks, another implementation of Unix. All JPL rovers sent to Mars used VxWorks. An electrical engineer from Cisco who's day job was designing power supplies wanted to work on the power supply for our project. A grad student in Australia specialized in heat shields and aeroshells, he asked me if you could design the aeroshell for our project. Of course I said "Yes!" That individual's name was Paul Wooster; he's now Principal Mars Development Engineer at SpaceX.

The Spain chapter of the Mars Society wanted to build the balloon. I found a commercial company in California that manufactures commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) space hardened electronics. Long after the project was dead, I dated an engineer who got a job with Lockheed-Martin. Her boss asked her to call me to get the name of that company. They had a project for a commercial satellite, so needed COTS electronics.

This project needed to become an official project of the Mars Society, so I could get a member of the board who worked for NASA to sponsor our project. Just to get that free ride on the Shuttle. When I asked Dr Zurbin, he said no. The reason is our project was not 100% professional engineers, we had a mix of engineers and amateurs, average Society members. But I thought that was the point of the Mars Society! For space enthusiasts to work side-by-side with professional aerospace engineers and NASA scientists. When Dr Zubrin said no, I stopped working on it. When I stopped, the whole project died. The German chapter of the Mars Society started a balloon project of their own, restricted to professional engineers. Our project was called Roadrunner, the German chapter's project was ARCHIMEDES (Aerial Robot Carrying High-resolution Imaging, a Magnetometric Experiment and Direct Environmental Sensing instruments). The ARCHIMEDES balloon project got Dr Zubrin's approval, but still hasn't happened. They tried to get approval to launch as an auxiliary payload on an Ariane launch; that's the European Space Agency's rocket. But it never happened. They're still trying, it's not listed as a project of the Mars Society, but is a project of the German chapter. They want to hitch a ride on an ESA orbiter. One issue is the German chapter project is funded by an amateur radio society in Germany; that provides limited funding, and they have limited volunteers.

So you want significant projects run by the Mars Society itself. Dr Zubrin is very impressive, but he refused to allow our project to be an official Society project. That was needed to get a NASA agency (cost center) to sponsor us. Not for funding, but just to get a free ride on Shuttle. Now you want other projects run through the Society, not Dr Zubrin's company. Call me skeptical.

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#9 2019-10-07 15:16:37

tahanson43206
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Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 1,072

Re: NASA Unsolicited Proposal Handbook

For RobertDyck re #8 ...

Thank you for this more detailed version of the story of the balloon project.  I recall you had mentioned it previously, and I recall that Dr. Zubrin had chosen not to encourage the project.

It occurs to me that a person in the position Dr. Zubrin has earned must surely be weighing benefits and risks of any proposal that comes his way. 

However, your review of this experience leads me to wonder if the My Hacienda initiatives would be likewise deprived of support, if they appear to be gaining momentum. 

There are two ongoing initiatives that I associate with the Mars Society ... There is the Devon Island initiative, which is captained by a PhD (Dr. Lee), but surely the staff who participate are not all PhD's.

In addition, there is the Utah station, about whose leadership I have no knowledge, but from participant reports I deduce that participants are not PhD's.

Perhaps the issue here is the NASA connection.  It might well turn out that any initiative submitted to NASA must be led and staffed by PhD level people.

(th)

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#10 2019-10-07 17:06:35

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 16,181

Re: NASA Unsolicited Proposal Handbook

Thanks Robertdyck for the R&D location and tahanson43206 for making me think.

Which brings me to what commodity do they have coming out of it that can turn a commercial profit to the average customer.

The methane creation with a sabetier reactor is a good example of a product that made for home energy needs could aid in the funding that they need for more R&D.

That said any one that has a wood stove and water could make there own fuels to cook with as well as for hot water for the house to use.

In the end if you do not have a product to sell you are not getting all of the value out of doing the research.

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#11 2019-10-07 18:51:42

RobertDyck
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From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,794
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Re: NASA Unsolicited Proposal Handbook

tahanson43206 wrote:

There is the Devon Island initiative, which is captained by a PhD (Dr. Lee), but surely the staff who participate are not all PhD's.

Used to be. But Dr. Pascal Lee and Dr. Robert Zubrin had a falling out. The result was they literally moved their stuff to opposite sides of the crater. Now the Haughton Mars Project (HMP) is still lead by Dr. Lee, but FMARS is not. Lead is now Dr. Robert Zubrin himself.
FMARS

tahanson43206 wrote:

In addition, there is the Utah station, about whose leadership I have no knowledge, but from participant reports I deduce that participants are not PhD's.

MDRS is lead by Dr. Shannon Rupert.
MDRS

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