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  Americans in Orbit-50 Years (AIO-50) (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   Americans in Orbit-50 Years (AIO-50)
Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-02-2008 10:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Huntsville Times: Space enthusiast aims to recreate Glenn flight
Wouldn't it be great if, in 2012, on the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's solo flight in the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule to become the first American to orbit the Earth, we celebrated by recreating that achievement?

And wouldn't it be great if we did it with private contributions and resources, at least as much as possible?

Russell, 54, is a former Air Force and cargo jet pilot now retired and living in Madison. He formed a nonprofit organization called Americans in Orbit-50 Years to get his plan moving.

His plan? Raise money to buy a rocket; refurbish one of the old Mercury capsules that never flew or else build one; put it atop the rocket; then launch, orbit and splash down.

Pretty much just like it happened in 1962, except he'd like this astronaut to go for the full seven or more orbits originally planned instead of coming back down after only three as Glenn was forced to.

[I'm not sure if it's the reporter's error here or Russell's, but Glenn was never planned to fly more than three orbits.]
Basically, his idea involves raising about $35 million to buy a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX, the company PayPal founder Elon Musk created that recently was awarded a NASA contract to demonstrate its ability to carry cargo and crews to and from the International Space Station.

Russell says SpaceX has a pad at Cape Canaveral that could be used for the Friendship 7 anniversary launch.

He thinks just another $10 million or so would be needed to build a Mercury space capsule. Why so cheaply? All the research, development and testing for the Mercury capsule was done by NASA decades ago and the plans are available in archives.

For more, see the Americans In Orbit-50 Years website.

mercsim
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posted 01-02-2008 10:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Its funny how history or perspectives get skewed with time. I think the seven orbit thing is just the tip here. For those not familiar with Robert's clarification, the orbit was stable and high enough to make it 7 times around before they were worried about it re-entering on it's own. The mission was always planned for just 3.

Building a functional Mercury Capsule shouldn't cost 10 million dollars. Replica aircraft get built all the time for less. It is an interesting dilemma to build a craft with all those relays and antiquated systems. For example, most replica airplanes use modern radios. If you started there, wouldn't it be as easy to upgrade some of the other systems. Before you know it, it would be full of modern off-the-shelf stuff...

Getting permission to overfly those countries with a private craft, recovery, tracking, communications... here are some serious dollar signs...

Mr Meek
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posted 01-02-2008 01:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ha, only in my hometown...

I would agree that it makes more engineering sense to use modern equivalents of many of the systems. Not that you necessarily need a Mercury capsule with a glass cockpit to get tossed into orbit for 5-10 hours. But even a physical switch-n-light interface could be integrated into computerized system rather than re-creating the strictly analog original.

I mean, if you're going to use a modern booster, why not?

art540
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posted 01-02-2008 01:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A modern booster that has not yet flown...

R.Glueck
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posted 01-02-2008 02:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for R.Glueck   Click Here to Email R.Glueck     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And thus, we fall into the trap of thinking "how easy it was", making a comparison of with the launch systems of today which still aren't easy! I'd like to raise the point that what Shepard, Grissom, Glenn, Carpenter, Schirra, and Cooper, did was damned dangerous! These guys had a layer of "cool" that made them come off looking devil-may-care, but to reproduce it as a publicity stunt? This is far more verbiage than substance. A big celebration is appropriate, but to attempt a rebuild of a Mercury spacecraft, then load somebody with more guts than sense aboard it, and playfully fling it into Earth orbit?

Somebody stayed up too late on New Year's Eve. Dumb idea.

art540
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posted 01-02-2008 02:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems to be a habit humanity has about commemorating such feats. See Kon Tiki, Columbus, Pilgrims, Jamestown settlers, others? I don't recommend the Titanic however!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-02-2008 02:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by R.Glueck:
I'd like to raise the point that what Shepard, Grissom, Glenn, Carpenter, Schirra, and Cooper, did was damned dangerous!
I could be mistaken, but I do not believe that Craig Russell is trying to suggest that it wasn't dangerous. All space flight is dangerous, regardless if it is in a Mercury capsule or in SpaceShipOne.

But to draw a parallel, flying the Wright Flyer was dangerous too, taking the life of Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge, but that didn't stop several teams from attempting flights of replica Flyers on the centennial of its first flight.

Space flight is more complicated, no doubt, but by 2012, there will be (with any hope) people launching weekly on Virgin Galactic commercial suborbital hops. The research and design of the Mercury capsule is well proven and tested. It should be possible to launch a pilot on a three-orbit flight in a known reentry vehicle without introducing any more risk than any other experimental or high performance flight.

Lou Chinal
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posted 01-02-2008 04:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I emailed Craig and Kenneth of The Huntsville Times. I suggested a few books that Kenneth let "slip by". Craig said, "Thank you". Somehow I got the feeling these guys don't want to talk to anyone who knows anything about rockets or spacecraft.

The whole business about going for 7 orbits says a lot.

SpaceDust
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posted 01-02-2008 04:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceDust     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Let's just say he does raise the money and builds a spacecraft and gets a rocket to do this but, it never talks about the launch pad, support equipment, launch team etc. Add more bucks to his "stunt" as some here has already called it. I just don't see this one happening.

James Brown
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posted 01-02-2008 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for James Brown   Click Here to Email James Brown     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cool, a real life Astronaut Farmer.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-02-2008 04:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceDust:
...it never talks about the launch pad, support equipment, launch team etc.
I may be mistaken, but I believe the $35 million quoted as the payment to SpaceX includes the use of their facilities and their launch staff (though the published prices on SpaceX's website are almost twice as high).

On edit: My comment suggesting that the prices were twice as high than the cited $35M was incorrectly based on the Falcon 9 Heavy rather than the Falcon 9 rocket as appears on SpaceX's website.

John Youskauskas
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posted 01-02-2008 07:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Youskauskas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by James Brown:
Cool, a real life Astronaut Farmer.

That was my first thought exactly. Mmmm...former Air Force pilot...now a cargo pilot. Just who does he expect to be "chosen" for this?

Not that I wouldn't like to see it done in some form, but his chances of prying Freedom 7 II out of the hands of the Smithsonian are about the same as a giant asteroid hitting Mars!

Oh, wait a minute....

MCroft04
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posted 01-02-2008 07:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
I'm not sure if it's the reporter's error here or Russell's, but Glenn was never planned to fly more than three orbits.
Perhaps this error has been perpetuated by the movie "The Right Stuff" where I believe the CapCom told Glenn that he was go for 7 orbits.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-02-2008 08:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MCroft04:
Perhaps this error has been perpetuated by the movie "The Right Stuff" where I believe the CapCom told Glenn that he was go for 7 orbits.
Dwayne Day reaches a similar conclusion in the article linked earlier in this thread:
What is the origin of this story? One suspects that it comes from the movie version of The Right Stuff and the oft-repeated bit of dialogue from mission control that Glenn was "go - at least seven orbits." As he starts his third orbit, Glenn is told to begin his retrofire sequence and come down. He asks "Only three orbits?" and is told yes, only three orbits. The movie clearly implies that Glenn's mission was cut short from seven orbits to only three.

It turns out that Tom Wolfe's book The Right Stuff had the story correct. On page 332 Wolfe states "they gave him the go for his third and final orbit..."

And indeed, Glenn was told, "Roger, Seven. You have a go -- at least seven orbits," but as was also suggested earlier, that referred to the nature of his orbit rather than the plan for his mission.

Jay Chladek
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posted 01-03-2008 01:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well if he somehow got O'Malley to get involved, then I don't think Guenter Wendt will be given those two tended to be rather abrasive around one another (read "the Unbroken Chain" for details).

To coin a phrase from Star Wars... "I have a bad feeling about this."

Joe Holloway
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posted 01-03-2008 09:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Holloway   Click Here to Email Joe Holloway     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To put it simply:

"Spam-in-a-can!"

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-03-2008 11:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Glenn was never planned to fly more than three orbits.
A correction appeared in today's print edition of The Huntsville Times.

robertsconley
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posted 01-08-2008 09:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for robertsconley   Click Here to Email robertsconley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On the good side all the relay logic that the original Mercury used can easily be handled by PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers).

On the bad side there are a lot you will have to do in order to recreate a Mercury Capsule. Two problem areas are:

  1. Obtaining the needed grade of hydrogen peroxide for the thruster (and the thruster hardware to use the fuel).

  2. The pyrotechnics and solid fuel rockets that are needed for the various explosive bolts, retro pack, and abort rocket.

  3. Recreating all the testing needed to fine tune each capsule for their mass and moments of inertia. I.e. compensating for weight and balance.

  4. Recreating the ablative heat shield and testing there of.

  5. The dual life support system of the space craft (suit and cabin).

  6. A lot of the documentation exists and it is enough to SIMULATE the experience. The problem comes in finding the engineering drawing and recreating the tooling for it. Otherwise you just may be better off making your own capsule from scratch and dress it up to look like Friendship 7.
I had several people ask me about engineering drawings for Mercury and Gemini. The problem is that they are deeply buried and scattered in the National Archives.

mercsim
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posted 01-08-2008 02:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's good to see Robert Conley post on this topic. For those of you that don't know him (sorry Robert), he (and a few friends) created the excellent Mercury simulator for Orbiter.
quote:
Originally posted by robertsconley:
I had several people ask me about engineering drawings for Mercury and Gemini. The problem is that they are deeply buried and scattered in the National Archives.
Many files and drawings are still the property of MD (now Boeing) and they are also difficult to obtain. He does, however, bring up a good point:
quote:
Otherwise you just may be better off making your own capsule from scratch and dress it up to look like Friendship 7
The capsule would end up being the easy part. The launch vehicle, ground support, tracking, communications, recovery, overfly permissions, etc would all amount to nearly impossible tasks.

It's difficult to draw analogies to the Wright Flyer replicas or even SS1. The Flyer reproduction only needed to fly a few feet off the ground for a few seconds. The SS1 project was done over several years and basically took place within one building. The actual flight occurred over a barren stretch of desert controlled by one agency and it was no easy task getting them to sign up for it. In both of these examples, there were very few, if any, 'what-if' scenarios that involved injury to others...

With all that said, we must still dream and look to the sky. Flight does make the imagination limitless, and if we can imagine it, we can do it!

carmelo
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posted 01-08-2008 08:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And the suit? An Original Goodrich Mercury pressure suit?

Lou Chinal
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posted 01-09-2008 08:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An original Goodrich pressure suit cost about $10,000 back in 1961. You would need a back-up and training suit.

What Robert Conley said about the pyrotechnics and weight and balance is true. If anything but the original contractor used the original bolts it would affect the mass and flying characteristics.

After any contract is over the dies, templates, test jigs are destroyed. The government does not want anyone to have the ability to build F-15's or B-1b's.

If anyone thinks they can order up a new Mercury capsule - good luck. If you think you can get one out of NASM - good luck on that one too.

McDonnell still has the prototype. They will let you measure it (and sit in it). That's about it. As far as engineering drawings, the guy in their history office was asking me for stuff. He told me they would get requests every so often and he just didn't know how to handle it.

robertsconley
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posted 01-09-2008 12:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robertsconley   Click Here to Email robertsconley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Do you have a contact info or email for the history office at MD? I have a inquiry from a guy who want to build a Gemini mockup and needs access to measure the capsule or get engineering drawings.

If so you can email me at robertsconley (at) gmail (dot) com

carmelo
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posted 01-09-2008 03:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ok, let's play a game. I'm a mad multi-multimillionaire, and I want reconstruct the Mercury or the Gemini capsule and the Atlas (or Titan) launch vehicle. The important thing is that externally the capsule is the same of the original, but I can use new materials and new technology for make it more safe. The question is: is only a money problem? With a lot of millions I can fly in orbit in my Mercury (or Gemini) replica capsule?

robertsconley
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posted 01-09-2008 03:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robertsconley   Click Here to Email robertsconley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The problem as I see it is anything that involve developing a replacement technology.

First of all the FAA will not issue you a launch license if you they think you will endanger somebody else life, limb, or property.

Second the two big pieces I see missing are the heat shield and the rocket itself. I know the capsule needs developed. But if you are mad millionaire you can rent a vacuum chamber to make sure that is safe.

If you have to develop your own then you run into the issues that the people behind the Falcon Rocket have.

If you want to buy a rocket. Then you will have to convince Boeing or Lockheed to allow you to buy and ride on of their rockets. That will probably get NASA and/or the military involved. You will need multiple launches to man-rate one of the rockets.

The best bet is to build your prototype capsule now get it tested in a vacuum chamber. If nothing else works out you can say you just wanted a crazy ass realistic simulator.

Wait to see how SpaceX does with their Falcon 9. If they get going. Then purchase three of them. Build two more capsule. Launch two tests to man rate everything and then put yourself on the third.

While you are waiting for SpaceX, buy whatever you want to use for the Abort Rocket. Get a high powered amateur rocket license (or professional) and start running abort tests in the desert.

I wouldn't try riding the abort tests. From what I understand the abort is better than dying but just barely. There are a lot of G's involved.

As for the Capsule Everything in the inner hull will be current technology. The original Mercury hardware was marginal and frankly nothing I would want to stick myself into.

However the control panel, seat can be made to look like the original. Just make sure you have a PDA/Laptop you can pull out to give you serious diagnostic and control if your trip starts going sour. The outer hull can be fashioned as a replica.

Also while you are waiting you want to get your heat shield made and testing preferably in a heated supersonic wind tunnel. I am not sure they are available to rent. Somebody who is an aerospace engineer would know where you get a heat shield tested.

Right now it would near impossible to get any replica capsule in orbit. But once the alt-space launchers get going then your options open up.

mercsim
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posted 01-10-2008 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't want to start any engineering debates but since we're playing a game, I'll chime in a little.

The heat shield shouldn't be that much of a problem. I once worked on some high temperature, high strength materials for a Hypersonic vehicle. The stuff is out there, its just expensive. Of course it wouldn't be re-usable, but we don't care. We starting making ablative heatshields nearly 50 years ago and perfected them through Apollo. People just don't consider them today because everything has to be re-usable...

You probably really don't need a vacuum chamber. Just use a standard atmosphere and pump it up to 15 psi. This was a problem before because things became so flamable in a single gas (O2) environment. Modern manufacturing would make it easier to get the pressure vessel to take this loading (SS1 did it).

While the original idea was to simulate Glenn's orbital flight, it might be a whole lot easier to do a sub-orbital flight. It could celebrate the First American in Space. You could avoid all the public safety issues. Either fly over a desert or international waters. Logistics become exponentially simpler.

Designing sub-systems such as life support, suit, navigation, electrical, all become very easy for such a short mission. For example, the battery required to run everything for, say an hour, would almost fit in your hand. The suit and the cabin could tolerate large leaks for a short time if you had plenty of stored atmosphere (compressed air) This could all lead to less cost and shorter engineering/manufacturing/testing lead times.

Dressing something up or creating a modern looking Redstone is probably a lot easier than an orbital booster. It would require a lot less energy and give a lot more room for error.

I know its not the glamorous Orbital mission, but if we were serious, it would be worth considering.

Lou Chinal
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posted 01-10-2008 06:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As long as we are playing, okay I just don't think money is the only problem. Manpower is going to be a big factor. Granted if you have the money you could hire a lot of people.

Take the posigrade rockets for example. I think they were part of the Atlas missile originally (someone else can chime in on this if they are sure). Convair just is not going to hand over hardware from an Atlas missile. They are not going to do it.

Going to the other end, let's talk about the parachutes. Most parachute manufacturers use spectra or vectran lines instead of the old 550 lbs. type lll. I'm not saying you can't get it, but it's something you are going to have to take into account. Again this would throw off the weight and balance.

Back to the other end once more: There were two different heat shields. A beryllium heat sink for the sub-orbital flights, and an ablation for the orbital missions. The weight and center of gravity would be altered.

What I'm saying is a lot of engineering man hours would be required.

Every sub-system in the spacecraft would have to be re-engineered. I guess it could be done.

I have a Randell survival knife I would be willing to lend you.

oldpara
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posted 01-16-2008 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for oldpara   Click Here to Email oldpara     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Someone asked earlier about who the pilot of this mission would be. Assuming the backers of this project can get Acme to halt production on Wiley Coyote's rockets and make one for them, 2 names came to mind as pilots. The first had flight time while jumping the Snake River Canyon, but sadly Evel is deceased now. The second name is Bill Dana. He has a space suit that he wore on Ed Sullivan all the time, so a tailor would just have to let out the seams a little bit and off he could go!

The recovery part is easy also. Since our Navy is busy right now, we use a cruise ship. It will be paid for by the passengers who have signed up for a special "Splashdown and Recovery Cruise". The ship docks at Cancun then Astronaut "Jose Jiminez" follows the many trails across the border and makes his way to Houston. Very cost effective.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-18-2008 02:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Americans in Orbit-50 Years, Inc. release
Americans in Orbit-50 Years Inc., A Non-Profit Organization, Announces Its Plan to Re-Create The Flight of the First American to Orbit

Today Americans in Orbit-50 Years has announced plans to re-create the NASA mission in which John Glenn became the first American to Orbit the Earth. Inspired by the 1962 Friendship 7 mission, the plan is to re-create the flight on the 50th anniversary, February 20, 2012. Craig Russell, President of Americans in Orbit-50 Years, stated, "This is the first attempt to re-create a manned orbital spaceflight. We plan to launch an astronaut from Cape Canaveral aboard an improved Mercury capsule." The flight is scheduled to "splash down" in the Atlantic, just as Glenn's 1962 mission.

Americans in Orbit-50 Years has been able to recruit an Advisory Board made up of a distinguished group of space program veterans: T.J. O'Malley, Charles Arthur (Chuck) Biggs, Sr., Larry R. Capps, William Coleman, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret.), Hugh W. Harris, Konrad K. Dannenberg. We will continue to add members over time.

The purpose of the project is twofold; commemoration and education. Our hope is to honor all of those who were associated with Project Mercury. Many of these people went on to work on both the Gemini and Apollo programs which resulted in the moon landing. The Dittmar Associates Study, commissioned by NASA, noted the steady decline of interest in space exploration over the last few years, particularly among the younger generations. Americans in Orbit-50 Years will re-ignite interest by allowing students to actively participate with space science experiments and small satellites in the adaptor section. Russell has contacted professors at several major universities, and they have all expressed interest and a desire to be involved in the project.

The organization proposes to use a Falcon 9 rocket for the launch. The Falcon 9 is being developed and tested by SpaceX, a California based space exploration company. The two stage rocket will be able to lift approximately 22,000 lbs. into orbit.

Astronaut applications now being accepted

Americans in Orbit-50 Years announced astronaut applications are being accepted. The minimum requirements and application procedure can be found on the website. Craig Russell made the announcement in Huntsville, Alabama at the local chapter of the National Space Society (HAL 5).

About Americans in Orbit-50 Years, Inc. - Americans in Orbit-50 Years is headquartered in Madison, Alabama, just outside Huntsville, Alabama (home of Marshall Space Flight Center, U.S. Space and Rocket Center, and Space Camp). The mission is to develop and manage a program to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of NASA's Friendship 7 mission, create excitement, public awareness of space exploration, and promote the National Space Science Education Program (NSSEP). For more information, visit their website at aio50.org.

John Youskauskas
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posted 01-19-2008 10:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Youskauskas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the website:
ASTRONAUT APPLICATIONS NOW ACCEPTED
Posted January 10, 2008

We are now accepting applications for Astronaut on the Friendship 7 re-creation mission. I made the announcement at a local meeting of the National Space Society (HAL 5) in Huntsville, AL. on January 9, 2008.

Applicants must meet the following requirements

  • U.S. citizen
  • Male or Female
  • 5 feet, 11 inches (Max height)
  • Pilot
    • 1,500 hrs. (high performance aircraft)
    • FAA commercial pilot certificate/instrument rating
    • FAA medical certificate
  • No previous space flight experience
Application process:
  • NO EMAIL (include Your email address for receipt notification)
  • 2 pages maximum:
    • one page bio- personal history/flight experience
    • one page "why I should be selected"
  • photograph
Two (2) astronauts will be selected and trained. We are looking forward to hearing from you all!
Just for fun, other than "no previous space flight experience", how many cS'ers here meet the minimum requirements?

bcrussell
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posted 01-19-2008 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bcrussell   Click Here to Email bcrussell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I do.

John Youskauskas
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posted 01-19-2008 06:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Youskauskas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I asked Mr. Russell to further define "high performance" aircraft. If you take the FAA definition, this would include any light, single or multi-engine aircraft with a powerplant of more than 200 HP.

If you assume that flight time in jet aircraft is required, then "high performance", while not defined by the FAR's, tends to indicate military fighter aircraft.

I will post once I receive his reply...

John Youskauskas
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posted 01-19-2008 10:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Youskauskas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I received the following in response to the question:

"For our purpose 'high performance' means Jet Aircraft"

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-21-2008 10:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Huntsville Times: Will next John Glenn please step forward?
The group hoping to celebrate the 50th anniversary of America's first orbiting spaceman by recreating John Glenn's 1962 Mercury mission is accepting applications from potential astronauts.

...Chris Kraft, NASA flight director for Glenn's mission, thinks it's great that people want to commemorate the achievement and honor the pioneers involved. But he doesn't think much of AIO-50's idea.

"I think it's dangerous and I don't think the government will let him do it," Kraft said Friday in a phone interview from his home near Johnson Space Center in Houston.

If the government allowed Burt Rutan to launch SpaceShipOne, why would they object to this project, if it is carried out with a similar approach? Perhaps AIO-50 should solicit Rutan to join their advisory panel (though on second though, given Rutan's own bias when it comes to NASA's history, he may be opposed to the idea on different grounds from Kraft).

mercsim
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posted 01-21-2008 01:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
If the government allowed Burt Rutan to launch SpaceShipOne, why would they object to this project, if it is carried out with a similar approach?
Come on Robert, these are not even close... Suborbital vs Orbital...

NAAmodel#240
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posted 01-21-2008 01:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NAAmodel#240   Click Here to Email NAAmodel#240     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Last year Charles Lindbergh's grandson was asked why he chose new technology to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the NY-Paris flight instead of a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis. He replied that he was replicating the spirit of adventure and the daring use of the latest technology, just like his grandfather.

As much as I treasure Project Mercury history I am far more excited by the efforts of Burt Rutan to open up non-governmental access to space than a dream to reinvent the wheel.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-21-2008 01:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mercsim:
Suborbital vs Orbital...
And Rutan has said publicly he is designing an orbital version of SpaceShipOne. So are you saying that the U.S. government will, by default, prevent him from launching, too?
quote:
Originally posted by NAAmodel#240:
I am far more excited by the efforts of Burt Rutan to open up non-governmental access to space than a dream to reinvent the wheel.
What about Option C: both? Given the choice of buying a ride on a Rutan SpaceShip design or a commercial Mercury replica, I would jump at the chance at the latter, even if limited a suborbital flight profile.

Almost a decade ago, Story Musgrave (among others) proposed a similar idea. In the same way that a tourism market exists today to ride vintage planes in mock-dogfights, I can easily see a demand for re-staged historical spaceflights.

mercsim
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posted 01-21-2008 05:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have no doubt Burt will 'fly' an Orbital SSX. However, I still see it as a completely different animal. It will be air launched from his private aircraft (proven) and then flown to a precision landing (proven). He has also proven his ability to design flight quality hardware with a very high level of success.

I'm sure someone will, one day, man rate a private rocket to lob someone into space. I also see them starting with suborbital flights to gain experience and prove designs and hardware.

It could resemble a Mercury Spacecraft. I just find it hard to believe it will be done in time for a 50th anniversary. I pointed out earlier, It seemed more logical to attempt a re-creation of the suborbital flights for this type of celebration. Its easy for me to see all the challenges that make an orbital attempt in 4 years nearly impossible.

I do however, wish them good luck and support the dream...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-21-2008 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mercsim:
I'm sure someone will, one day, man rate a private rocket to lob someone into space.
Keep in mind that the company building the rocket proposed for use by AIO-50 is designing it from the start to be man-rated for their own purposes...

MCroft04
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posted 01-21-2008 08:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I talked with Brian Binnie at San Antonio UACC he commented that getting into orbit was not a big problem; getting back was. Any ideas on what Burt is going to do differently to keep a spacecraft returning from orbit from burning up or disintegrating?

John Youskauskas
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posted 01-21-2008 09:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Youskauskas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Knowing Rutan, if he hasn't figured it out yet at least in concept, he soon will. Once he does, it will seem painfully obvious and simple.

As most here know, the X-15 fell back through the atmosphere in a nose-low attitude which led to a low drag, high speed, high temperature re-entry.

Rutan thought, "Hey, I'll just fold my airplane in half," and built himself a high drag, low speed, low temp re-entry vehicle that works great.

I think he will solve the problem in a similar manner of brilliant thought and engineering to find a way to bring his ship back from orbital speeds.

Now, getting it up to 17,500 MPH may be a little harder than Mr. Binnie, all due respect, has suggested.....


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