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Thread: Hoagland's link to NASA?

  1. #1
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    Hoagland's link to NASA?

    [Note to mods: I am not advocating anything here. I am being curious. ]

    Richard C. Hoagland calls himself "a former NASA consultant", although that claim is dismissed as groundless (or exaggerated). However, I have just came across this blog post discussing 4th Conference on Planetology and Space Mission Planning, which took place in 1972, at the time of Apollo 17 launch. The post discusses that the conference proceedings have never been published (which it attributes to the financial problems of the event organizers); however, it includes a conference agenda. Between Asimov, Mailer, Sagan, Minsky, etc. we have:

    Richard Hoagland: The Space Shuttle
    Considering that the conference was ridiculously expensive, that's pretty surprising. I'd guess that his employer had to finance the trip. Looking around I found this site debunking Hoagland, which contains the following quote:

    I was standing beside science writer Richard Hoagland at Voyager mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, gazing intently at one of the television monitors displaying Voyager 2 images of Europa.
    Hoagland at a mission control. On top of this, somewhere on the Hoagland's site there is a black-and-white photo from the Apollo/Viking era (judging by the clothes and furniture style), which shows Hoagland and some other guy in an office standing above a table covered with photographs. The caption goes something like "Hoagland points out problems with [Lunar Orbiter? Viking?] data to NASA scientists". Unfortunately I have been unable to locate that photograph now (that site is a mess), but let's assume for the sake of discussion that it exists.

    My question then is the following:

    Hoagland seems to take his credentials from the fact that he was somehow involved with NASA in 1970s. There is evidence of him actually visiting the NASA facilities and hanging out with NASA scientists. So, does anyone know:

    1. What was Hoagland actually doing in the 1970s? Is anyone familiar with his employment history?

    2. Hoagland apparently was visiting NASA facilities in that era. Now, I am not that familiar with U.S. customs, but I don't think you can just walk around NASA facilities without getting a badge or something. He claims that he was a "NASA consultant", but does that mean he was actually contracted? Or, was he just going around the facilities with a press accreditation?

  2. #2
    Hoagland has stated in the past that he was a consultant for Walter Cronkite, a TV news anchor from that era who was highly respected. As such, Hoagland would have had press credentials that were practically gold plated. (Walter Cronkite was seen as *the* voice of authority, back then, and the surest way to get yourself in hot water was to be on "Uncle Walter's" bad side.) This would have given Hoagland nearly unlimited access to NASA facilities and conferences, since blocking Hoagland (while he was working for Cronkite) would have run the risk of having Cronkite speak poorly about NASA on the nightly news.

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    You know, I've been in various JPL mission controls. Perhaps not during major events, but the campus is far less sealed off than you might imagine.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    You know, I've been in various JPL mission controls. Perhaps not during major events, but the campus is far less sealed off than you might imagine.
    aha!! so you are a paid NASA disinfo agent..

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    If so, half of Pasadena and Altadena are.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    If so, half of Pasadena and Altadena are.
    The consipracy keeps getting bigger!

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    Thanks a lot, the Walter Cronkite link would explain it. I think I have been deceived by the Hoagland's claims that NASA is in fact a very secretive organization. So when he puts a picture of himself at NASA, along with a claim like this, that paints him as an insider. Clever psychological manipulation.

    Also, Hoagland wasn't a conspiracy theorist back then, he apparently was a normal space journalist. He started when he became a proponent of face on Mars in 1983, i.e. 9 years after the 35A72 frame was taken. So, there was no rational reason to deny him access.

    I have found a book from 1986 which contains an interview with Hoagland. The story seems to be:

    1. Hoagland saw the picture back in 1976 along with everybody else and dismissed it as an artifact.

    2. The face was "rediscovered" in 1979 by DiPietro and Molenaar (as in D&M pyramid). The twist was that they were aware of the "Face" from von Daeniken's book, but thought that this was a doctored picture... and then they found the raw frame in the NASA archive, which has turned them around.

    3. D&M have developed an image enhancement algorithm, which they have applied to the raw frame and produced a better picture of the face.

    My comment: they could have honestly self-deluded themselves. When extracting information from noisy data, it is very easy to subconsciously tune the algorithm so that it produces this what you think it should produce, and not that what really is there. For a pre-computer example of this, see N-rays. As for the D&M algorithm, it could be interesting to run it against pseudo-random test data to see what biases it actually introduces. Also, the book contains comparison of original and processed versions of the image. Anyway, back to Hoagland.

    4. Hoagland got a print of the "enhanced" version in 1981, put it on the shelf, and forgot about it.

    5. In 1983 he was working on some story about Saturn and wanted to do some image enhancement, so he though about using the D&M algorithm. He convinced D&M to send him more information. This included a beautiful, 5"x5" glossy print of the enhanced image. He looked at that picture and became convinced of its artificiality.

    And from that point on, he just went downhill. I must admit that in this 1986 interview he sounds almost reasonable.

    Anyway, this is a pretty sad story. It demonstrates how a conspiracy theory builds upon the older layers of itself, reality be damned.

    Let it be a cautionary tale.

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    There is some valuable information on Hoagland's Credentials on the BA's original Bad Astronomy site. It explains why he was around during some missions and how credible his "NASA contractor" label is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arneb View Post
    There is some valuable information on Hoagland's Credentials on the BA's original Bad Astronomy site. It explains why he was around during some missions and how credible his "NASA contractor" label is.
    Does it? It elaborates on how he misappropriated other people's ideas, but it doesn't explain what was he doing at NASA in the first place. Unless I'm not reading this article right.

  10. #10
    During the Voyager era RCH was working for a now defunct astronomy themed magazine called 'Star And Sky'. The November 1980 issue of that magazine was devoted to the upcoming Voyager 1 Saturn encounter, using Saturn art by numerous artists, including mine, by arrangement.
    Through such associations as 'Star And Sky' he was able to get press credentials and attend some of the planetary encounter events at JPL. If he was ever in the control room it would have probably been by pre arranged media tour, as the press are based in Von Karman Auditorium. He obtained other press passes for associates who also attended the Vogager 1 encounter. During the Voyager 2 Saturn encounter something didn't 'check out' in the submitted accreditation material and RCH along with a few others there through him were suddenly gathered and thrown out! That was his last appearance at a JPL planetary event so far as I know.
    A passing association with Goddard Space Flight center in the mid 70's was probably centered on a NASA SP volume he was commissioned to write on the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory, for which I painted a view of the spacecraft against an orbital sunrise to be used as a 'wrap around' cover. I heard he never submitted a suitable manuscript and the cover art, which I still have, was never used.
    As for the 4th Conference on Planetology and Space Mission Planning it is unlikely a record exists of the presentations aside from what is in the archives of the participants. The cruise was an amazing gathering of space fans and probably can be considered a critical networking stimulator for what would become something of a 'space movement'. It was a great thing to be a part of and it probably was the high water mark of the legitimate space related career of RCH.

  11. #11
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    Very interesting background information DD4SKYART.

    Quote Originally Posted by DD4SKYART View Post
    A passing association with Goddard Space Flight center in the mid 70's was probably centered on a NASA SP volume he was commissioned to write on the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory, for which I painted a view of the spacecraft against an orbital sunrise to be used as a 'wrap around' cover. I heard he never submitted a suitable manuscript and the cover art, which I still have, was never used.
    That's a shame. It's a bit depressing when you create a piece of art for print or public view, and it ends up languishing mostly unseen in a personal archive instead. Hope you got paid at least.

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    From the few glimpses of your art, Selenite, I know I'd like the chance to see more of your stuff. If it's languishing, it's a shame.

    CJSF
    "Soon the man who sweeps the room brings the secret telegram, 'COMMENCE OFFICIAL INTERPLANETARY EXPLORATION.' "
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    I was a member of a real conspiracy. Now known as the Iran-Contra scandal. I was one of the many drivers that took the arms from army bases to air force bases for shipping out.

    Does this now mean, like Hoagland, that I can claim so sort of tenuous connection and say "Yes, not only was life on europa a military idea, but they also have plans to nuke it just incase?"

    *Please read this post in the mirth dripping scarcasm it was intended*

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by DD4SKYART View Post
    A passing association with Goddard Space Flight center in the mid 70's was probably centered on a NASA SP volume he was commissioned to write on the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory, for which I painted a view of the spacecraft against an orbital sunrise to be used as a 'wrap around' cover. I heard he never submitted a suitable manuscript and the cover art, which I still have, was never used.
    That also means that a bunch of the history of the OAOs has to be found again - I've been touching on it as part of a broader theme in the early history of satellite astronomy. What really amazes me is that the total cost of the OAO program corrected for inflation was not that much less than HST cost up through launch. Nancy Roman suggested that was largely because they were at the bleeding edge in on-board computing, three-axis stabilization, power, and communication all at once.

    Another connection - just before the longtime SF magazine Worlds of If merged with Galaxy, its last separate issue had a very poetic article on the move of astronomy to an off-Earth basis, including bits of fictional narrative, by Hoagland. I still have that in my collection after about 35 years. The timing would be right for that to piece to have been informed by partially-completed research for the OAO history.

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    Forgive me for bumping an old thread, but does anyone know if a list exists (Not created by Hoagland) showing just what he published (& where) before he got involved in peddling the Face on Mars?

    By way of a kind of apology here is quote from Peter Hyams in the book about the making of '2010':

    I have been dealing with your (Arthur C Clarke) friend Richard Hoaglands Infowhateveritis.
    Peter Hyams, e-mail dated 14 November 1983, The Odyssey File, pg 60

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    Can you put in a bit of the surrounding text for that Hyams quote, and did it really say "Infowhateveritis'? And it was an email from 1983? There wasn't an awful lot of email going on back then - it existed, but wasn't exactly mainstream..

    Anyway, have you read this page?:
    http://www.math.washington.edu/~greenber/FaxBack.html

    It seems to be very relevant to the topic, and may explain why Hyams might have been interested in what Hoagland had written - but also casts a lot of (well-deserved) aspersions in Hoagland's direction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chrlzs View Post
    Can you put in a bit of the surrounding text for that Hyams quote, and did it really say "Infowhateveritis'? And it was an email from 1983? There wasn't an awful lot of email going on back then - it existed, but wasn't exactly mainstream..


    First here is a link to the front cover of the book I got the quote from:

    http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n...FrontCover.jpg

    Second the back cover blurb:

    http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n..._BackCover.jpg

    Actually what Clarke & Hyams were doing was swapping text files from one computer to another by means of telephone transmission, and Clarke actually uses the term 'electronic mail' in his introduction to the book in reference to this. (One of the appendixes covers the laborious process used to transfer the files.)

    Here is more of the email I quoted earlier:


    I have signed Roy Scheider to play Floyd. This is not for publication ... However it is official. I am thrilled. Roy is exactly the actor I had in mind. Our film has just taken a significant step forward.

    I was here all weekend. I never tried contacting you out of fear that you did not have your machine on ... and the telephone ringing would wake you up. I find that the weekends here are the best times to write and study.

    I have been dealing with your (Arthur C Clarke) friend Richard Hoaglands Infowhateveritis. If there is a local number in Sri Lanka for you to deal with...
    Peter Hyams, e-mail dated 14 November 1983, The Odyssey File, pg 60 (All ellipses are as per the original, identification of who 'your' referred to added by me.).

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    He at least knows we were on the moon. I think he might be using radio to #1--Make money and #2, encourage interest in spaceflight. If somebody can get folks to think there are artifacts on Mars, it interests folk more then revealing the same story of NASA finding evidence for water and hoping for the level of interest they got with the Mars Pathfinder--and greater funding. Sadly, this effort actually cheapens the push for spaceflight by making real scientists just another guest on Art Bell, Noory or whatever.

  19. #19
    He's gone quiet since HiRISE arrived at Mars and destroyed every single piece of his nonsense Mars stories.
    He got a book out about the moon, just before LRO arrived and destroyed everything he said about the Moon.

    He's now trying to defraud people out of money to pay for a trip to Egypt to observer 'Torsion Physics' during the Venus transit. It's pure word gravy, yet some fall for it.

    He's a professional fraudster. Nothing more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by djellison View Post
    He's a professional fraudster. Nothing more.
    Isaac Asimov, talks about Hoagland in his essay about the cruise to observe the launch of Apollo 17. Hoagland talked Asimov into going because, Asimov said (probably with tongue somewhat in cheek), "How would it look for the greatest science fiction writer to not have seen an Apollo launch." When Asimov questioned that, Hoagland said he had signed and notarized statements to that effect. Once on the ship, Asimov found that Hoagland had told several other writers that he had signed and notarized statements that the other writers where the greatest science fiction writers. Asimov also mention that as the time for the ship to leave approach, and the launch had yet to take place because of a hold, Hoagland convinced the captain of the ship to stay longer, because he had signed and notarized statements to the effect that he was the greatest captain in the world. I took the "signed and notarized statements" thing as Hoagland, even back in 1972, had the ability to con people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tensor View Post
    Isaac Asimov, talks about Hoagland in his essay about the cruise to observe the launch of Apollo 17. Hoagland talked Asimov into going because, Asimov said (probably with tongue somewhat in cheek), "How would it look for the greatest science fiction writer to not have seen an Apollo launch." When Asimov questioned that, Hoagland said he had signed and notarized statements to that effect. Once on the ship, Asimov found that Hoagland had told several other writers that he had signed and notarized statements that the other writers where the greatest science fiction writers. Asimov also mention that as the time for the ship to leave approach, and the launch had yet to take place because of a hold, Hoagland convinced the captain of the ship to stay longer, because he had signed and notarized statements to the effect that he was the greatest captain in the world. I took the "signed and notarized statements" thing as Hoagland, even back in 1972, had the ability to con people.
    Interesting, which of the Asimov essay collections did that appear in?

    Also, that is the reason I suggested that a proper database of Hoagland (Pre Face-on-Mars) articles be created, I know for example that he did write some articles for Analog in the 1970's, but after donating my collection to the local Sci-Fi Historical society I no longer have the issues to hand.

    But more to the point, I have a strong suspicion that the 'Europa Article' on Hoaglands website may differ from what was originally printed in the 1980's, but without a copy of that article I cannot prove it.

    Here is the other appearance of Hoaglands name in 'The Odyssey File', again the message went from Hyams to Clarke and contains a lot of ellipses:

    I have received a series of delighted notes from the Infomedia people ... rejoicing over the fact that you "made it on line" ... this morning our time. Did you call directly from Sri Lanka to California ... or have you found a local access number. If the latter is true ... I am delighted ... and I hope we can start to use that system. If it is not true ... I will keep harassing them.

    They have opened a new activity ... It is called "Futures Planning" or something like that. It is for you and me ... and for Carl Sagan ... who is joining their program in the next day or two. Hoagland asked that you log in and check that activity. There is a very important conference that they are holding...
    Peter Hyams, e-mail dated 4 January 1984, The Odyssey Files, pg 96-97 (All ellipses are as per the original)

  22. #22
    Richar Hoagland says that Phobos is a giant alien spaceship, Nasa wouldn't be caught dead associating with him:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQrAHuNOalQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AW3Wk-Yzd4o
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1eXBxY_zak
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNApHJCBma8
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYrY248P7zw
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEkivJ253bg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham2001 View Post
    Also, that is the reason I suggested that a proper database of Hoagland (Pre Face-on-Mars) articles be created, I know for example that he did write some articles for Analog in the 1970's, but after donating my collection to the local Sci-Fi Historical society I no longer have the issues to hand.
    I have '70s Analogs, but they might be a little hard to get to. I remember reading his articles at one time, but I don't remember much about them - they didn't make much impression. Googling, I've found references to these issues:

    Analog Sept. 1975 "Rendezvous in 1985"

    http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?ANLGSEP75

    http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?115714

    Analog Dec. 1974 "Why We WON'T Find Life on Mars"

    http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?ANLGDEC74

    http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?115733

    Then there was the Nov. '86 article, "The Curious Case of the Humanoid Face ... On Mars"

    http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?115033

    My recollection is that his articles (including the Mars one) were a lot more restrained than what you find on his site now. But then, while Analog would allow speculative science articles, pure nonsense wasn't encouraged.

    Anyway, those are the articles I remember. I think that was all he had for Analog?

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    Checking the site you linked to I found two more Analog Articles, one split across two issues:

    Analog May. 1977 "Return to Mars: A Mission for the Enterprise"
    http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?57175
    http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?115589

    Analog December. 1982 "The Blivit in the B-Ring (Part 1 of 2)"
    http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?57087
    http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?115292


    Analog January. 1983 "The Blivit in the B-Ring (Part 2 of 2)"
    http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?57117

    http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?115249


    Following the links gives some other magazine titles. I had the 1975 & 1977 magazines, and from memory I didn't read the Hoagland articles precisely because of his current reputation. It might be worth hitting the second hand bookshops, particularly to run down the 1986 'Face-on-Mars' issue.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham2001 View Post
    Interesting, which of the Asimov essay collections did that appear in?
    The essay was titled "The Cruise and I". It first appeared in the Jul 1973 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The book of essays was The Tragedy of the Moon.

    I checked my copy of In Joy Still Felt (the second volume of Asimov's auto-biography) where he relates a couple of instances of his interactions with Hoagland. While his description of his cruise interactions are a bit more sober than in the essay, there are a few other places where Asimov comments on Hoagland.

    Their first contact was by phone and Asimov said "He was anxious to see me and had all sorts of plans and projects in mind. He had an eager spirit that was very contagious." Which may indicate, even then(1965) was able to get people excited about things. Asimov goes on "When we finally made personal contact I was taken aback to find him a thin, narrow-chinned youngster of 19; extraordinary bright though and filled with enthusiasm for space.
    Somehow he persuaded me to do a television show in Springfield and I drove out there on May 6.... Hoagland also talked a good deal about Mariner 4, which was on its way to Mars, to take photographs as it flashed by.
    I avoided becoming overcommitted at that time, for I sensed even then that Hoagland, like many utterly enthusiastic people, might have a reach that slightly exceeded his grasp."

    These quotes are from pp 364-365 of In Joy Still Felt. First Edition, 1980. I bolded what I think is rather pertinent.

    As a point of interest, Hoagland was running the planetarium in Springfield MA, when the above events took place (1965). That may help you find some more articles going back to the sixties.
    Last edited by Tensor; 2012-Jun-04 at 05:00 PM. Reason: Added comment about planetarium

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tensor View Post
    The essay was titled "The Cruise and I". It first appeared in the Jul 1973 edition of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The book of essays was The Tragedy of the Moon.

    I checked my copy of In Joy Still Felt (the second volume of Asimov's auto-biography) where he relates a couple of instances of his interactions with Hoagland. While his description of his cruise interactions are a bit more sober than in the essay, there are a few other places where Asimov comments on Hoagland.

    Their first contact was by phone and Asimov said "He was anxious to see me and had all sorts of plans and projects in mind. He had an eager spirit that was very contagious." Which may indicate, even then(1965) was able to get people excited about things. Asimov goes on "When we finally made personal contact I was taken aback to find him a thin, narrow-chinned youngster of 19; extraordinary bright though and filled with enthusiasm for space.

    Somehow he persuaded me to do a television show in Springfield and I drove out there on May 6.... Hoagland also talked a good deal about Mariner 4, which was on its way to Mars, to take photographs as it flashed by.

    I avoided becoming overcommitted at that time, for I sensed even then that Hoagland, like many utterly enthusiastic people, might have a reach that slightly exceeded his grasp."

    These quotes are from pp 364-365 of In Joy Still Felt. First Edition, 1980. I bolded what I think is rather pertinent.

    As a point of interest, Hoagland was running the planetarium in Springfield MA, when the above events took place (1965). That may help you find some more articles going back to the sixties.
    Thank you for finding that. In return I managed to locate a rather battered copy of the May 1977 Analog. I've only skimmed the article at the moment so I'll hold off on an analysis just yet, but it appears to be a rather strongly held piece of space advocacy, I will leave you with the somewhat disturbing (in later light) final paragraph:

    "Given this, I wonder what other 'impossible' surprises do the sands of Mars conceal? Do we have the courage to find out?"
    Richard C. Hoagland, Return to Mars: A Mission for the Enterprise, Analog May 1977, pg 38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tensor View Post
    ...I took the "signed and notarized statements" thing as Hoagland, even back in 1972, had the ability to con people.
    I took it entirely differently...I took it as simply another Asimov "story"...with tongue planted firmly on cheek.


    Of course I could be wrong.

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    I'm still not ready to try and do an analysis of the May'77 Analog article, but it does give pointers to the "Rendezvous in 1985" article, apparently that was about a plan to attach a Mariner (I'm assuming Mariner 10.) flight spare to a solar sail 800m a side (I'm assuming Hoagland meant a square sail.) and launch that from a shuttle (He mentions the Shuttle Enterprise.) to rendezvous with Halley's Comet. I've done a quick search on the NTRS for anything resembling this and could not locate anything within the approximate timeframe (Late 60's -1976). Hoagland referrs to a:
    ...Dr Bruce Murray (Director JPL, origination center for the Sail)
    Richard C. Hoagland, Return to Mars: A Mission for the Enterprise, Analog May 1977, pg 32

    as the source.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Graham2001 View Post
    a plan to attach a Mariner (I'm assuming Mariner 10.) flight spare to a solar sail 800m a side (I'm assuming Hoagland meant a square sail.) and launch that from a shuttle (He mentions the Shuttle Enterprise.) to rendezvous with Halley's Comet.
    I vaguely remember this being discussed at the time. There is a bit more detail in this article in Space Review by Andrew Lepage. He mentions the idea originating with a Battelle engineer, Jerome Wright, and that the plan did call for a solar sail 800m on a side.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ngc3314 View Post
    I vaguely remember this being discussed at the time. There is a bit more detail in this article in Space Review by Andrew Lepage. He mentions the idea originating with a Battelle engineer, Jerome Wright, and that the plan did call for a solar sail 800m on a side.
    Thanks for that, I'm still wondering if what Hoagland described was made up so I'm going to see if I can find the relevant issue of Analog (Sept '75) and see if he gives names/sources in that one, which does not in this article.

    The other solar sail plan he ascribes to NASA, which is much more dubious since he referrs to it as a "semi-secret dream", is a manned Mars mission in two stages, in the first stage spacecraft (Carrying a roughly 30 ton payload) propelled by 2000m (a side?) solar sails deliver unmanned habitat units & scientific equipment to Mars, in the second stage the astronauts are sent to Mars by an unspecified means to occupy the now established base.

    Hoagland rubbishes this idea with the following remark:

    Trust NASA to automate a Manned Mars Expedition!
    Richard C. Hoagland, Return to Mars: A Mission for the Enterprise, Analog May 1977, pg 33

    He then puts forward a more grand concept he terms the "...Hoagland Variation..." (Caps his), in this the entire expedition is hauled to Mars aboard up to ten spacecraft propelled by solar sails 20km a side.

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