03 February 2018

Update: New Job, New Plans

Gateway to the lunar surface base. Image credit: Boeing.
As some of you are aware, at the end of December I left my job as archivist, map librarian, and outreach guy at the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona. I worked there for a little over 10 years. At the beginning of January, I started a new job as Community Outreach Specialist at the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Science Operations Center (LROC SOC), which is part of the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) at Arizona State University in Tempe, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona.

I am currently working remotely and part-time - we'll move down to Phoenix in a few months and I'll go full-time - yet I find myself putting in a lot of extra hours to get to know LRO, LROC, SESE, and ASU as quickly as I can. This is, after all, a dream job for me. I had long hoped that I might become part of a space mission team, and now I've made it happen.

This is a big life-change, which unfortunately means that I have neglected this blog. I've stopped scratching items off my list of planned posts and stopped suddenly writing impromptu new posts. I've managed a couple of omnibus posts bringing together in chronological order links to past posts, but I completed my most recent meaty new post just before Christmas.

It might sound as though I plan to abandon writing about spaceflight outside the boundaries of my LROC job. That is, however, not correct. In fact, my new job has me so fired up that I can foresee a day when I'll be settled in and have a lot of excess energy to expend. It feels like someone turned the oxygen back on.

I am looking for ways to make this blog serve two purposes: first, to be a really nifty blog that teaches people about cool space history stuff and, second, to help me learn things applicable to my LROC job. So - you heard it here first - I hereby declare 2018 to be The Spaceflight History Year of the Moon Base.

I know what you are thinking now. "Yeah, right, he's making promises again and he ain't gonna come through. He'll get distracted and it'll be like, 'Hey, look, Mars is at opposition!'" (More likely, it'll be like, "Dammit, kiddo, pack up your books, the moving van is due in 15 minutes!")

So, getting back to this moon base thing. You see, several years ago I contracted with NASA to write a lunar counterpart to my book Humans to Mars. Then my wife was killed and my daughter gravely injured in a car crash, putting everything on hold, NASA changed historians, and when I asked them about getting started on Humans to the Moon again, I found that they had lost interest.

I had, however, by then done much of my research. I still have the documents I collected, and now the time seems right to put them to good use.

Just to get you in the proper frame of mind, here are links to the few moon base-type posts that are already part of this blog. Enjoy!

"A Continuing Aspect of Human Endeavor": Bellcomm's January 1968 Lunar Exploration Program

As Gemini Was to an Apollo Lunar Landing by 1970, So Apollo Would Be to a Permanent Lunar Base in 1980 (1968)

SEI Swan Song: International Lunar Resources Exploration Concept (1993)

26 comments:

  1. Best wishes David! Looking forward to renewed energy and a resurrection of your past research!

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  2. Thank you, Joe - very kind of you.

    dsfp

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  3. Congratulation to you new Job !

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  4. Good luck on the new adventure. Selfishly I hope your plans for re-purposing the book research work out! :)

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    1. Josh - there's nothing selfish about that! Thanks for your kind good wishes.

      dsfp

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  5. Best of luck for the future.
    Kerrin

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    1. Many thanks, Kerrin! And thanks for being a loyal reader, too.

      dsfp

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  6. First of all: congratulations! Sounds like something of a dream job for you, and I hope that you and the Kiddo enjoy your new life!

    Second: Moonbase stuff? COOL!! I'm glad to see that you'll be able to put all that research to good use, and to share it with the rest of us. It's a shame that the powers-that-be think such an endeavour isn't worth their effort!

    As an aside, I've been interested in the moon (and astronomy in general) since my young days watching Space: 1999 on TV. As scientifically inaccurate as that show was, it got me interested in learning about the REAL moon & planets--and space travel--more than Star Trek (or later, Star Wars) ever did. It helped that one of the main characters (Professor Bergman, portrayed by Barry Morse) was a scientist who was NOT the typical TV 'absent-minded professor' so prevalent in the medium.

    Of course, the real Universe is way cooler than anything SF TV came up with, but I still am glad to have experienced it; it was a good jumping off point.

    Craig R.

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    1. Craig:

      It's a big change, but by working remotely I'm making it easier on the kiddo. I'd love to move down to Tempe right now and really get into the swing of things, but that's not the best thing for her. Let her finish Middle School, then starting HS in PHX won't be much more of a shock than starting it in Flagstaff.

      I was surprised at how little moon base stuff I've posted. Maybe subconscious avoidance because that NASA project went south? It wasn't intentional, in any case, that I've not posted much on lunar bases.

      I never much took to SPACE: 1999, though the Eagle spacecraft were pretty terrific. I must've built and modified half a dozen Eagle models. They were of a pretty convincing design - at least until they started flying in planetary atmospheres with hardly any propulsion section. I remember Professor Bergman. I was thinking of Koenig when I cast Martin Landau as an Andorian starship captain in my sixth "Dreaming a Different Apollo" alternate history thing.

      dsfp

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    2. I forgot about your Martin Landau reference in that post. I recall that in our own reality, Landau turned down the role of Spock in the original ST because he didn't want to play an emotionless character.

      Best of luck to your daughter through all of the shifting into a new life. Good planning on your part to allow for a more clean 'break' between schools; I hope that she appreciates it in the long run, even if in the here-and-now it may seem a bit traumatic. Or is she looking forward to it as well? (Not trying to get too personal, by the way, but I also have kids who've been affected by moves to new school districts, and was lucky enough to be able to schedule moves between years and/or semesters. Difficult, but not insurmountable!)

      Craig R

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    3. Craig:

      Landau was considered for Spock? I really had no idea! I suppose I must have seemed really well informed re: Trek lore when I wrote that. In fact, I just thought about who was around in the 1970s who I'd cast, and he was my first choice.

      The kiddo is very much looking forward to this. She knows there are lots of fun things to do in Phoenix. The schools are meant to be better down there, too, and she likes that, too.

      dsfp

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  7. Heeey, welcome to the SESE family! We're a pretty friendly bunch.

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    1. Hi, Theresa:

      I've noticed that! Everyone has been really welcoming. I don't think I've had the good fortune to make your acquaintance yet, but I'm sure I'll stumble across you at some point. I am working remotely mostly now - that'll change in late May/early June. Mostly I'm working on Featured Images on the LROC site, but I hope to expand to help out with Apollo anniversary plans and maybe, if there's a need for it, some of the other things going on around SESE.

      I hope you won't mind indulging my curiosity - were you following this blog before you found out I joined SESE? Or were you alerted somehow that someone was posting about SESE? I'm not sure how Google+ works half the time, to be honest.

      In any case, I hope you enjoy the blog.

      Have a great week!

      dsfp

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    2. Oh, I've followed this blog for ages- it's coincidence that I *also* happen to be a SESE PhD Student.

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    3. Theresa:

      Great to know you're reading the blog (and studying at SESE). I looked you up - astrobiology is a tremendously exciting field. Be sure to tell me if my occasional comments on life *in* Mars are incorrect/naive/some combination thereof.

      Cheers -

      dsfp

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  8. Sounds like you've found the perfect job for you, good luck! :)

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    1. P.

      I hope so! In any case, thanks for the kind good wishes.

      dsfp

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  9. That is so awesome David! Wonderful news. I hope you go in depth on the post-Apollo/Apollo derived proposals, since they have direct relation to my upcoming projects as well!

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    1. Matthew:

      I'm going to be unappreciative for a moment - it's a real pain working remotely. It's hard to get to know my co-workers and it's more challenging to learn what I have to learn. Some things - creating Internet content - are more difficult than they will be when I am based at ASU. For now, I'm forced to rely on others because I'm outside a firewall, and in general, I don't like to be a pest. Everyone has been very welcoming and helpful, mind you, but that's how I feel about it, anyway.

      But that's really stupid, because as you've just reminded me, the new job is awesome, and the tie-in to lunar bases - a topic I've neglected in recent years - is really cool. Thanks for the reminder. I am really very stupid sometimes.

      At the moment I'm looking at an old USAF paper about choosing a lunar base location. It goes into the competing theories of the time - basically, impact vs. volcanoes and consolidated surface vs. loose dust. No mention of Hal Urey's cold moon hypothesis - that came along a little later, I think - but I've already described that elsewhere in the blog. And then, based on the surface model the authors prefer, it chooses a lunar base site. Actually two, but the second site isn't tied to a particular surface feature - it's merely 180 degrees around the moon from the first site, which is tied to a particular surface feature.

      I hope to write this over the weekend. One goal of the lunar bases focus is to not let my posts expand out of control (unless they really need to be big). The post on the Vondrak paper on the lunar atmosphere is quite compact yet says a lot.

      dsfp

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  10. A bit late to the game, but still many compliments to you David for these good news - you deserved it.
    Simone

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    1. Very kind of you to chime in, Simone. Hope all is well in your corner of the multiverse.

      dsfp

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  11. Congratulations David on your new job and becoming an official part of the LROC SOC mission!!
    Kathy F

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  12. Thank you, Kathy, it's very kind of you to say so.

    dsfp

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