Volume IX - Issue VII - July 2007


Fascinating Projects


Humans in Space: NASA + 13 Space Agencies Release
Global Space Exploration Strategy Framework

On May 31, 2007, NASA and 13 other space agencies from around the world announced the release of their Global Exploration Strategy discussions document entitled, "The Global Exploration Strategy: The Framework for Coordination." According to the NASA news release, the document reflects a shared vision of space exploration focused on solar system destinations where humans may someday live and work.

The framework document allows for the establishment of a voluntary, non-binding mechanism by which space agencies can exchange information on their respective space exploration plans. This coordination mechanism will play a key role in helping to identify gaps, overlaps and synergies in the space exploration plans of participating agencies.

The framework document is an important step in an evolving process toward a comprehensive global approach to space exploration. Although the document is non-binding, its contents are consistent with ongoing bilateral and multilateral discussions that NASA intends to lead to cooperative agreements for specific projects.

In addition to NASA, representatives from agencies in Australia, Canada, China, the European Space Agency, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea and Ukraine participated in the Global Exploration Strategy discussions. Many participants are meeting this week in Spineto, Italy, to discuss the development of the coordination mechanism and other issues.

The above announcement was jointly made by space agencies worldwide. PMForum received the news from both NASA and the JAXA space agency of Japan. The complete framework document is available for review at:

http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/178109main_ges_framework.pdf. To learn more about NASA's future space exploration plans, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration.

Editor’s note: We at PMForum applaud NASA and the other participating space agencies for cooperating on a global basis on such important program plans and initiatives. We also advocate global cooperation on program and project management experiences, methodologies and technologies, so we can all be successful in the pursuit of the future of humans in space. No country has resources to waste on such important initiatives that affecting the survival and future of our civilization. Modern project and program management are important for that future.

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Floating Nuclear Power Plants - Project Underway in Russia

On April 15, 2007 the construction of the first floating Nuclear Power Station, Academician Lomonosov, started at the Sevmash Submarine-Building Plant in Severodvinsk in Russia. The celebrations were attended by the first deputy prime minister of Russia, Sergei Ivanov, and by the head of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Sergei Kiriyenko.

Academician Lomonosov Floating Power Plant is supposed to supply power to Severodvinsk town and SevMashZavod itself. It would also serve as a prototype and a demonstration model. It is planned to completed by 2010 (in 2.5 years). By 2015 at least seven of the vessels are supposed to built. Some of them are planned to be used in the Russian Arctic, including at Dudinka on the Taymyr Peninsula, Vilyuchinsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula and Pevek on the Chukchi Peninsula, but some are to be exported. According to Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency 15 countries have shown interest in buying such a device.

Floating nuclear power stations are vessels projected by the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency that present self-contained, low-capacity, floating nuclear power plants (two modified naval propulsion reactors). The stations are to be mass-built at ship-building facilities and then towed to the destination point in coastal waters near a city, a town or an industrial enterprise. The vessel would then provide up to 70MW of electrical or 300MW of heat energy that are enough for a city with population of 200,000 people. It could also be modified as a desalination plant producing 240,000 cubic meters of fresh water a day.

Environmental groups and nuclear experts are concerned that floating plants will be more vulnerable to accidents and terrorism than land-based stations. They point to a history of naval and nuclear accidents in Russia and the former Soviet Union, including the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. The manufacturers have commented that a nuclear reactor that sinks, such as the similar reactor on the Kursk, can be raised and probably put back into operation. At this time it is not known what, if any, containment structure or associated missile shield will be built on the ship. The manufacturers believe that an airliner striking the ship would not destroy the reactor.

The plant needs to be refuelled every three years while saving up to 200,000 metric tons of coal and 100,000 tons of fuel oil a year. The reactors are supposed to have a lifespan of 40 years. Every 12 years the whole plant will be towed home and overhauled at the wharf where it was constructed. The utilization of the nuclear waste will be organized by the manufacturer and supported by the infrastructure of the Russian nuclear industry. Thus, virtually no radiation traces are expected at the place where the power station produced its energy. This article is primarily based on information on Wikipedia. Additional information can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_floating_nuclear_power_station.


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London Faces Inspection of Olympic Project

Reported by PMF Correspondent Miles Shepherd in London, UK

London’s progress on its preparations for the 2012 Olympics amid criticism of its controversial new logo which cost more than £400,000 to design comes under scrutiny as International Olympic Committee (IoC) Inspectors descend on the city this week. It is claimed that the IoC will seek reassurance that the marketing and commercial plans are still on track despite the controversy.

IoC are likely to seek assurance that other key aspects such as the budget and funding are secure. The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), charged by the Government with bringing the programme to a successful conclusion, claim all is well with the development programme but critics claim vast budget escalation is affecting other sports and charities in the run up to the Games.

Responsible Minister, Tessa Jowell, claims that the budget ‘has not escalated’ despite the announcement in March that the costs had almost trebled from the £3 billion submitted in Singapore in July 2005. Jowell claims this is mainly due to the Treasury's insistence on a £2.7 billion contingency fund and an £840 million VAT bill. The actual cost of developing the Olympic stadium, athletes' village and other key venues in east London has rocketed from £3 billion to £5.3 billion. But this is claimed to include a substantial element for regeneration ‘of one of London’s most deprived areas’.

Inspectors are likely to be reassured by the appointment of John Armitt as ODA chairman. Armitt, a well respected project and programme manager with a strong background in construction management gained with Costain Group and Union Railways where he was Chief Executive. He joins from Network Rail where he has been Chief Executive since 2002. ODA suffered a set back when 72-year-old American Jack Lemley walked out after allegations of political interference. Lemley’s replacement, Sir Roy McNulty, will continue as Deputy Chair.

The construction programme is claimed to be on schedule with major successes marked by the completion of the mammoth task of digging the 12 kilometres of tunnels from West Ham to Hackney that are required to bury power cabling and utility supplies. The Inspectors will not be able to see too much of the 600 hectare Olympic Park site as it is cluttered with the piles of rubble. The ODA remains upbeat, claiming they are on target, having cleared a quarter of the site. .

According to recent reports, shortlisting for construction of Zaha Hadid's aquatics centre after revised plans was completed to schedule after revided plans were announced in February. Negotiations with Team McAlpine over the main Olympic stadium are said by the ODA to be "positive" with an announcement set to be made "in the coming weeks".

More problematic is the transportation area. This was a major challenge for the original bid, ODA can point to a real breakthrough when they show inspectors the Eurostar train from Stratford to St Pancras for the first time. By 2012, 25,000 passengers an hour will use the seven-minute service from central London to the Olympic Park. London will also point to improvements and extensions to the Jubilee Line and Docklands Light Railway. However, serious concerns were expressed by the Transport Select Committee in February, claiming that transport plans were ‘still embryonic’

As with most major programmes, politics plays a major part. Sir Craig Reedie, a member of the International Olympic Committee and the former head of the British Olympic Association, commented that ‘There are a number of Government agencies who make demands and there is a lot of political interest in this. As a result there is a risk of bureaucracy interfering with the preparations.’

The Daily Telegraph points to the £9.3 billion of public money earmarked for the construction of the Olympic Park in Stratford and regeneration of the surrounding area, the Government is unlikely to back off and allow organisers a free hand. Culture Media and Sport Ministry spokesman said: “We have always been clear that it is a strength of the project that it has been defined by strong political leadership from the outset. “We make no apology for that and will continue to work closely with the organisations with responsibility for delivering the Games.’

The Inspector’s report card is likely to welcome the progress in infrastructure and transport but overall will say ‘could do better’

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Space Shuttle Atlantis Returns to Earth Safely
After 14 Day Mission to International Space Station

The space shuttle Atlantis and its crew arrived home safely on 22 June after completing a 14-day journey of more than 5.8 million miles in space. Atlantis' STS-117 mission successfully increased the power capability of the International Space Station, preparing for the future delivery of European and Japanese laboratories. Atlantis' Commander Rick Sturckow, Pilot Lee Archambault and mission specialists Jim Reilly, Patrick Forrester, Steven Swanson, John "Danny" Olivas and Sunita Williams landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California at 20:49 GMT on Friday, June 22, 2007.

During the mission, Atlantis' crew attached the new S3/S4 solar array truss segment on the right side of the space station's backbone, deployed a new set of solar arrays, and retracted the Port 6 starboard solar array back into its box. The station has a new look with two symmetrical solar panels mounted on each end of the station's truss.

Reilly, Olivas, Swanson and Forrester, with the help of crewmates, made four spacewalks to complete the construction tasks. They activated the truss segment and the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint, which allows the new arrays to track the sun, and helped fold the Port 6 array. During the third spacewalk, the crew repaired a 4-by-6 inch raised corner of a thermal blanket on the port side Orbital Maneuvering System pod. Aerodynamic forces during Atlantis' ascent lifted the blanket.

While the crew worked in space, ground teams were troubleshooting a problem with Russian computers that help control the station's attitude. Russian specialists worked closely with teams in the United States to recover the computer capabilities.

NASA astronaut and station Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson, who launched with the crew aboard Atlantis, remained on the station. He is scheduled to return home aboard space shuttle Discovery on a mission targeted for launch in October. Anderson replaced Williams, who set a new record for a single, long-duration spaceflight by a woman with 195 days. She arrived at the station in December 2006 aboard space shuttle Discovery. STS-117 was the 118th space shuttle flight, the 21st flight to the station, the 28th flight for Atlantis and the first of four missions planned for 2007.

Several inspections in orbit revealed no critical damage, and Atlantis' thermal protection system was declared safe for re-entry on flight day 13. Weather concerns prevented the crew from returning to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., the primary end-of-mission landing site. In 7-10 days, Atlantis will be transported approximately 2,500 miles from California to Florida on the back of a modified 747 jumbo jet. Once at Kennedy, Atlantis will be separated from the aircraft to begin immediate processing for its next flight, targeted for December 2007.

With Atlantis and its crew safely home, the stage is set for the next phase of International Space Station assembly. Preparations continue for space shuttle Endeavour's launch, currently targeted for August 2007, on the STS-118 mission to deliver the S5 truss segment to the station. For more on the STS-117 mission and the upcoming STS-118 mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle.

Created by The National Aeronautics and Space Act in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is America’s focal point for research, development and exploration of outer space. On January 14, 2004, President Bush announced “A Renewed Spirit of Discovery: The President’s Vision for U.S. Space Exploration”, a new directive for the USA’s space exploration program. In accordance with that directive and the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, the US President and Congress committed the United States to exploring the solar system and beyond: completing assembly of the International Space Station, flying the new Crew Exploration Vehicle no later than 2014, returning astronauts to the moon by the end of the next decade, and sending human missions to Mars and beyond. For nearly 50 years, NASA has been leading the world in the development and usage of advanced program and project management. Additional information about NASA can be found at www.nasa.gov.


China Shocks World Environmentalists
With Plans to Build Road to Mt. Everest

China announced on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 that it was building a “metalled road to the Mount Everest base camp”, raising protests from environment activists worldwide. It appears that it is an attempt by China to stun the world during the period leading up to the Olympic Games in Beijing.

The construction of the 108-km road to a height of 5,200 metres will begin within a week - and like most Chinese execution of grand projects, is supposed to be completed in four months. The plan is to transport the Olympic torch to this point, from where Chinese runners (or mountaineers) will carry it to the world's tallest peak.

Environment activists are appalled because a blacktop road will mean more people, more burning of fuel, more construction, and more refuse in an area whose ecosystem is fragile and already threatened.

There are signs that the planning for the road was carried out in secrecy and even the Organizing Committee of the Beijing Olympic Games (BOCOG) did not know about it until recently. The fact that construction will begin in a week indicates that advanced preparations like landscape surveys and geological investigations have already been carried out in the mountainous region in Tibet.

The audacious project is bound to be an engineering feat like the Beijing-Lhasa railway project, the highest railway in the world. The new road will link Tingri County of Xigaze Prefecture in Tibet, lying at the foot of the mountain, to the base camp. It entails building a "blacktop highway fenced by undulating guardrails", costing $19.7 million, on roughly where a jeep path currently exists.

Announcing the project, the Chinese official Xinhua News Agency hoped the new highway would become a major route for tourists and mountaineers.

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Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London - Major Destination Hotel
& Conference Center Project Launched in Central London

Reported by PMF Correspondent Miles Shepherd in London, UK

Park Plaza Hotels and contractor Gear Construction Project Management on June 19 announced the next phase in the development of their latest project, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London, their largest hotel management project to date.
The hotel company’s aim is to create a destination that becomes the next venue of choice for international conferences and events.

Gear Construction Project Management, the contractor developing and building Park Plaza’s stunning portfolio of UK hotels, has began construction of their newest property. Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is being built opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. This major hotel development in the heart of London promises eco-friendly initiatives and urban regeneration, and when completed will be one of the largest hotel based conference spaces in central London.

The striking new hotel, designed by BUJ Architects and Uri Blumenthal Architects & Town Planners, will offer over 2,500 square metres of conference space with 1,000 bedrooms. The hotel will offer conference space for up to 1,250 delegates and will increase Park Plaza’s London portfolio to 2,200 guest bedrooms. In recent years, London’s skyline has been redeveloped from Tower Bridge to Vauxhall Bridge, with Park Plaza Westminster Bridge representing the next stage in completing an ultra-modern South Bank cityscape.

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London will be the eighth Park Plaza-managed hotel in the UK to be built by Gear Construction Project Management, following hotels in Leeds, Nottingham and areas of London now enjoying the rewards of extensive regeneration such as Vauxhall and Victoria. The combined partnership of developer and hotel management has proved a winning success across the company’s UK estate and extends across to the Continent where Park Plaza Hotels manage, own and franchise some 26 hotels.

The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel development will involve a total investment of £300 million, with £4.6 million allocated to local regeneration schemes including public transport, employment and the training of local people. A further £1.6 million is allocated towards the creation of a landscaped public space around the hotel. Westminster Bridge Roundabout will become part-pedestrian with a piazza that will limit traffic to taxis and public transport, making it a more scenic and enjoyable area.

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NASA TC4 Project to Investigate Ozone & Climate Changes

Reported by PMF Correspondent Miles Shepherd in London, UK

NASA's Tropical Composition, Cloud and Climate Coupling (TC4) field campaign project will begin in July, to tackle challenging questions about Earth's ozone layer and climate using coordinated observations from satellites and high-flying NASA airplanes. Researchers will study how chemical compounds in the air are transported to the stratosphere, the area of the atmosphere that contains most of Earth's ozone. They will investigate how this vertical transport of water and chemicals affects climate-influencing cirrus clouds, and the chemistry of the upper atmosphere, of which ozone is an important component.

The study will begin the week of July 16 with coordinated observations from satellites, high-flying NASA research aircraft, balloons and ground-based radar. The targets of these measurements are the gases, aerosols and ice crystals that flow from the top of the strong storm systems that form over the warm tropical ocean. These storm systems pump air more than 40,000 feet above Earth's surface, where it can influence the composition of the stratosphere, home of our planet's protective ozone layer. The effort runs through Aug. 8. It is NASA's largest Earth science field campaign of the year.

This campaign is an unprecedented opportunity to use NASA's complete suite of satellite and airborne Earth-observing capabilities to investigate a largely unexplored region of the atmosphere," said Michael J. Kurylo, a TC4 program scientist at NASA Headquarters, Washington. "This tropical transitional layer of the atmosphere between the troposphere and the stratosphere plays a key role in both climate change science and atmospheric ozone chemistry. The data will yield new insights into the composition of this layer and the impact of the deep clouds that penetrate the atmosphere up into this layer."

"A mission this complex, with three aircraft, deployment sites in Costa Rica and Panama, and more than 400 people involved, can be a real challenge," said Mission Project Manager Marilyn Vasques of NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Soaring high above the cloud systems will be a NASA ER-2 aircraft, which can reach an altitude of 70,000 feet, or 3 miles into the stratosphere. A NASA WB-57 aircraft will fly into the cirrus clouds and sample the chemical make-up of the storm systems' outflow. NASA's DC-8 aircraft will probe the region between the troposphere and the stratosphere with remote-sensing instruments. It also will sample cloud particles and air chemistry at lower altitudes. Weather radar and meteorological balloons will be deployed in Panama to support the campaign. Additional balloons will be launched from Costa Rica and San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos Archipelago.

Observations from seven satellites will complement the aircraft measurements with large-scale views of many different features of the atmosphere. For example, the Aura spacecraft (shown in photo below) will focus on the chemical composition of the tropopause transitional layer and measure ozone, water vapor, carbon monoxide and particles. NASA's Aqua satellite will map thin cirrus clouds, some of which are so faint they are nearly invisible to the naked eye. Instruments on the CALIPSO and CloudSat satellites will pierce the atmosphere to provide vertical profiles of clouds and aerosol particles that can change how clouds form.

Along the coasts of Colombia and Panama south of Costa Rica, the warm summer waters of the Pacific Ocean are a fertile breeding ground for the type of heat-driven, or convective, storm systems the mission is targeting. Clouds produced by these maritime systems produce heavy rainfall and cloud tops that can reach into the transitional layer. Mission scientists want to know what effect a warming climate with rising ocean temperatures will have on the intensity of these storm systems. Another unknown is how aerosol particles swept up in these systems change the clouds and are, in turn, affected by the clouds.

These tropical convective systems also may play a role in the recovery of the ozone layer. Estimates of ozone destruction in the stratosphere typically minimize the impact of short-lived chemical compounds that presumably could not survive the long journey there. Mission scientists will investigate whether the rapid movement of air in these strong convective systems provides an express route for ozone-destroying compounds to reach the stratosphere.

The Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters is sponsoring the $12 million mission. Costa Rica's National Center for High Technology, San Jose, and the University of Panama, Las Tablas, are cooperating with NASA on the mission as are other U.S. agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation. For more information about NASA's TC4 mission, visit: www.espo.nasa.gov/tc4

Created by The National Aeronautics and Space Act in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is America’s focal point for research, development and exploration of outer space. For nearly 50 years, NASA has been leading the world in the development and usage of advanced program and project management. Additional information about NASA can be found at www.nasa.gov.







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