Articles and Blogs

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Letter to Congress about NASA’s  Journey to Mars

Historical Reflection on What Has Made The Planetary Society Significant [pdf] — remarks delivered at Huntington Library reception for Society charter members and donors

President Obama’s Arctic Trip – A Blog, 4 Sep 2015

 Op-Ed on NASA’s Evolutionary Mars Campaign 

Published in Space News, online 5 August 2015; in print 10 August 2015

Statement on the Flight of LightSail-A  

The Planetary Society today conducted a test flight of LightSail, a projectlightsail 03nov09c I started at the Society in 2009, largely supported by a private donor in addition to members of the Society. The history of the project is included in my forthcoming book , Human Spaceflight: From Mars to the Stars, and is also posted in two parts on The Planetary Society LightSail web site:  Part II is a history of solar sail development at the Society and Part III is the history of LightSail

 This flight was in low Earth orbit where atmospheric pressure, while very low, still dominates over solar pressure.   The plan is to fly a second spacecraft (LightSail-B) at higher altitude in a true solar sail flight in 2016 or 2017.  LightSail-A was a test of deployment and on June 7, 2015 it did just that.  Much went wrong on this flight and  the results will have to be analyzed and lessons learned.  But the test succeeded, and we are proud of the spacecraft we designed and built.  

Congratulations to all those who’ve worked on and supported LightSail over the
past five years.  I am very proud of our LightSail team and of the spacecraft designed and developed by Tom Svitek and Stellar Inc., and by Jim  Cantrell, our first project manager.  Congratulations to Rex Ridenoure and Ecliptic Enterprises  and to Doug Stetson and Dave Spencer and to the Georgia Tech and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo teams who overcame difficulties during mission operations to enable seeing the successful deployment test.  We still have a ways to go to achieve a solar sail flight and integrate all the lessons learned.  But this test is a wonderful milestone and I express my appreciation to Bill Nye and The Planetary Society staff for their determination to make it happen.  

This pictureFF ver3 overlays the wonderful “selfie”captured  by the LightSail  camera system  installed on the spacecraft’s solar panels on a photo of the four “fathers of LightSail,”  its originators and designers (from right to left): Jim Cantrell, Tom Svitek, Louis Friedman, and an otherwise anonymous member of The Planetary Society.

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“Phobos Indeed,” an op-ed 20 Apr 2015

Letter to Senate Subcommittee (.pdf) 26 Feb 2015

Send Your Name to Mars – Not Really (.pdf) Commentary 2, Dec 2014

 Op-Ed Government – Commercial space cooperation in the aftermath of the Antares and Spaceship Two Accidents

 Two papers presented at the International Astronautical Congress    Oct 2014, Toronto, Canada:

Synergies of Robotic Asteroid Redirection Technologies and Human Space Exploration   IAC-2014-ARM-KISSpaper (.pdf)

Science and Technology Steps Into the Interstellar Medium   IAC-2014-ISMpaper (.pdf)

Rethinking MSR  (.pdf)

A work-in-progress, re-thinking the role of Mars Sample Return in Mars Exploration planning.  I am discussing this with colleagues and invite comments. 

 ESA success with Rosetta (.PDF)

Commentary, 10 Aug 2014

 Op-Ed NRC report (.PDF)

NRC’s “Pathway to Exploration” Should Start with Asteroid Redirect Mission, Louis Friedman, Thomas D. Jones, 26 June 2014

Notes and Activity 

Congratulations to the European Space Agency and all the scientists and engineers involved in the first ever landing on a comet.   The Rosetta mission is an extraordinary accomplishment.   They say space is hard,which underscores how great this achievement is and how excellent the team is.  When Rosetta arrived at the comet months ago I commented on the significance of the success.  It reminded me of my experience with Halley’s Comet, a previous triumph in Europe.  

USA Today took me to see the new movie, INTERSTELLAR, and then interviewed me about the science and reality of it all.   It was a terrific movie — I admired the treatment of the physics.   The treatment of engineering was over the top — but very entertaining,  The interview is here.

Scientific American reports on the rocky political road of the Asteroid Redirect Mission.  It quotes me saying  “What the critics don’t seem to understand is that if we don’t send humans to an asteroid that is moved closer to Earth, we will send humans nowhere for the foreseeable future.”

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