NASA Vision of Space Exploration

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by BRYAN_SEECRETS, Jul 28, 2006.

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  1. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    I don't think ISS is garbage. On the contrary, I think it should be kept as long as possible, because there won't be any replacement. There won't be a space station of this magnitude in orbit for the next thirty years at least. If NASA doesn't want to participate in it any longer, it can sell it's parts to current participants, to India or some private company (if some would be ready show that their ambition really is as big as their mouths) or something. It's better than destroying it when there's nothing else.

    What comes to private companies, I'm saddened by how easily snake-oil salesmen from private companies have been able to sell their non-existent future launchers to US government. Elon Musk and his colleagues in the space business couldn't put a Mercury capsule into space now or in the near future, and certainly not send crews to ISS. Even the unmanned US cargoships to ISS might never materialize. But, in a too typical US fashion, declaring intending to do something has been taken as equivalent of being capable to do it. Just dream big and people think that you have achieved your dreams by speaking them loudly and eloquently.

    US astronauts won't be riding in space on private US launch vehicles anytime soon, they will end up buying more places in Russian (and perhaps later, in other countries') spacecrafts. Kistler should have taught US government and NASA that big dreams are not equal to being able to do something. But, it hasn't.
  2. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    There was a Japanese space radio telescope, HALCA, in operation from 1997-2003, and they plan to launch a successor, ASTRO-G, in 2012.

    They are just not widely known, as the Japanese space agency JAXA and it's predecessors are not very good when it comes to publicizing their missions and the mission results outside Japan. Except when compared to the Chinese, who haven't released almost any results from their Moon orbiter Chang'e-1.
  3. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    Space X does have 2 good launches under its belt. Virgin Glactic has had nothing but success and will go orbital after a year of sub orbit tourism. These are beginning baby steps but to label them as unable to have a future is a rather odd thing to say.

    If there is a gap between shuttle launches and a shuttle replacement Russia will be used to get our astronauts to the ISS.

    The ISS from the get go has been an overpriced loss. I would hope something will come of it but I would sell it and use the money to fund other NASA projects if I could. In fact, even if they sold it for the low low price of 10 billion dollars they could pay Bigelow to make a new ISS and get as many as 100 of his modules in orbit for that price.
  4. Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2004
    star 6
    I agree. The decision to kill Constallation is a mistake, but I've also heard that Bigelow is teaming with Lockheed to build a stripped-down Orion to serve as a shuttlecraft for the International Space Station. If that happens, it could be mated to a Space X Falcon 9 rocket, when they become available. If that happens, then its possible that version of Orion might actually enter service.
  5. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    You and me both. And like Kimball Kinnison, I noticed that gap in retiring the shuttle and delaying R&D on the future space vehicles.

    That is worrisome from just a common sense perspective.

    But Yuthura, I would take his budget proposal seriously enough because of his spending freeze initiative.

  6. Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2004
    star 6
    So would I. I watched the State of the Union Address on Youtube this afternoon. He didn't mention the space program specifically, but he made it very clear aside from matters pertaining to healthcare and national defense, he won't spend any money that he doesn't have to, which means that NASA will almost definetly lose some funding to one extent or another.
  7. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    I think that NASA's budget should be geared towards a future with manned space flight in mind, but should not be based solely on using people regularly. Projects similar to the Hubble demand a human presence to upgrade while in space, but don't depend on humans to operate all the time (ISS comes to mind). I believe any mission where space craft haven't gone before are where the greatest rewards will be found. After all, we've been in lower Earth orbit since 1964.

    I strongly favor the Hubble telescope and the space shuttle's use for such projects because of their fantastic results which expand our ability to see further into the universe than ever before. The shuttle was an important component in upgrading the telescope over the years, so losing it means the Hubble has reached its fullest potential. Now we're looking at a future where both space-based projects and a new launch system are being developed at the same time. In the meantime, we're looking at five years where we have no launch vehicle ready to carry astronauts at all.

    Before I go on, I just wanted to complement the shuttle for its value over the years. Although it was far from the cheap, reusable spacecraft it was intended to be, the shuttle was among the most versatile vehicles ever devised by NASA. Although its retirement has been long overdue, I think that NASA has had a long time to consider a replacement; but failed. It was known long ago that the shuttle was an expensive piece of hardware to operate, but it has not gone to great lengths to find a cheaper alternative. Its budget for the ISS and the station itself were just a wasteful use of resources. They have outputted some results, but not nearly enough to justify their costs.

    The recent budget cut proposals geared towards the moon missions in favor of the ISS are not going to help matters, as NASA should be devoting its resources towards developing the Ares boosters and the Orion spacecraft. Losing the Moon missions only serves to detract from either of those goals. Until either are effectively operational, then NASA's future will rest almost solely on foreign space programs for the next several years. To further ensure that those components are completed on time, it would make much sense to plan future missions where you can develop both the booster and the payload to complement one another. That way, you will generate incentive for both to ensure neither get cancelled. Even if you started planning a new mission today, it would take years to complete the rover/spacecraft/satellite which you would load aboard the Ares booster when it's completed.

    This would at least serve to give NASA more incentive to complete projects already in the works. The ISS is just going to detract from efforts to complete the Ares and Orion systems.
  8. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    Nothing but success? Three of Rutan's workers died in a failed engine test in 2006 and they were fined for violating safety protocols. Of course, this tends to be forgotten...

    I bet if things haven't changed to be more professional there will be more deaths when they get to fly regularly and it might be - I hope it's not, but I fear it will be - the end of space tourism for some time. There's an assumption that is cultivated in connection with space tourism that it is safe and reliable, just like taking a normal flight, but just in to space. But it isn't. It's far more dangerous. And if pieces of charred corpses of space tourists are eventually collected, unbridled enthusiasm can easily turn in to disillusion.
  9. Espaldapalabras Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    "Simply put, we're putting the science back into the rocket science at NASA," White House science adviser John Holdren said at a budget briefing Monday.

    Link

    I see this as a positive development. The moon mission was a boondoggle, and I don't see what is so disasterous for the US to rely on foreign governments for a few years to reach the space station. It is "international" after all. Doesn't seem worth it just to trash it so soon.

    We need new technology, building old fashioned new rockets seems pointless.
  10. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    New rocket technology isn't much worth to NASA if it doesn't plan to do anything with it. And who knows what the next US administration decides to do? At some point one has to stop this cycle of throwing plans to dustbin and starting anew again.

    I'll hope this spurs other countries to go ahead with their manned plans, but US throwing in the ring a white towel might well make other countries perhaps not less keen, but at least put on the backburner their manned projects. No hurry now, and less prestige in reaching the Moon when US doesn't even try.

    What I do hope this will do is to wean ESA from the unhealthy connection to NASA when it comes to manned plans. NASA will be in the same boat as ESA when it comes to own manned capabilities, so ESA (and the membership countries' politicians who decide it's funding) should stop the old playing a poor cousin, who offers a helping hand -act and push on with the plans for ESA's own manned spacecraft and own independent plans to get to Moon and Mars.
  11. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    I agree. It costs more to do that than if they let them continue through
  12. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    Um, the point was they did not have launch failures when they made their X-prize shots. Also, I guess we have to stop refining oil because oil employees get killed on the job? I guess we have to shut down NASA forever since they have had deaths. Airlines? People die in plane crashes yet that industry goes on and on.

    Even if the first launch with paying customers ends in disaster it will not be the end. It'll be a HUGE setback as it will be investigated and could potentiall end the company in question, but private launches will still be attempted and developed.

  13. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    From the article:

    "Simply put, we're putting the science back into the rocket science at NASA," White House science adviser John Holdren said at a budget briefing Monday.

    The $4 billion that NASA spends yearly on human space exploration will now be used for what NASA and White House officials called dramatic changes in rocketry, including in-orbit fueling. They said eventually those new technologies would be used to send astronauts to a nearby asteroid, a brief foray back to the moon, or the Martian moons.



    This is a good thing. Or at least the right thinking. We'll see how it turns out. Candlestick rockets are not some old stupid technology. It is a proven track record and they can be improved for efficiency. I mean what, are you expecting anti-gravity saucers? There are many launch ideas, and NASA's budget is not anything like the budget of the military.

    Besides redirecting money to new technologies, NASA is getting an extra $6 billion over five years to encourage companies to build private spaceships that NASA could rent. Many of those companies are run by Internet pioneers. The companies included in the pilot project include Blue Origin, which is run by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Another firm already building private rockets is run by PayPal founder Elon Musk.

    NASA will also spend an additional $2.5 billion over five years for more research on how global warming is affecting Earth, including replacing a carbon dioxide monitoring satellite that crashed last year. NASA will also extend the life by several years of the International Space Station, which had been slated for retirement in 2016. NASA's yearly budget is $19 billion.



    This is good too, and the part about renting private spaceships is great.

    On a side note, a pic from the ISS
  14. Rouge77 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2005
    star 5
    Different things. Current society is largely built on oil. Loss of life to keep up the current society is seen as necessary. Civilian air industry is huge, integral part of normal society. Loss of lives will damage only individual companies, not the industry. And airflight and spaceflight are not equal, the latter is and always will be far more demanding and dangerous, which will put limits on it's size for the foreseable future, thus damage to one company will mean more to the industry as a whole.

    And Rutan's employees died because they were badly trained. They didn't know the simplest way of protecting themselves in the test, hiding behind a protective wall. What I have watched of Virgin Galactic's videos, a kind of proud amateurish way reigns, a supposed can do -attitude which is loose with the rules. The kind of attitude which tends to kill in a hard spot.

    That's too simple a view. A single accident will destroy the reputation and image of space tourism as safe and reliable. No more claims how soon entire families with kids can take a trip to space together. It would be for friends of extreme sports afterwards. And it would bring forth litigation. There won't be such a legal document that the space tourists can sign that the lawyers couldn't after an accident sue the company for their deaths.

    Except that none can do the job exist. It's a different thing to claim to eventually rent something you will know will be there when you need it and another thing to throw away money to others in the hope that they will build that something for you to rent - in time. Cynically speaking, basically what the whole "private" thing amounts to is a government subsidy to people with big dreams, big mouths and very little to show. Building fortune in internet is a different thing than building manned spacecraft.
  15. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Here's James Cameron's take on the new NASA vision: Obama's bold new vision for exploring space

    Philosophically, I do like the private-public partnership in the whole new plan. Anyone who knows my politics knows I'm a staunch supporter of private industry over public bureaucracy.

    But I just don't think we're quite there yet. Maybe I'm wrong?
  16. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    I've been going over the plans for the Orion spacecraft since Obama's proposed budget cuts to NASA and found that control of the project was handed over to Lockheed Martin. It also says that the project is in the process of cancellation.

    What exactly is going on? Is the Orion project expected to be scrapped, or is it up to Lockheed Martin to decide its fate?
  17. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    I hav enot been keeping up that well but from what I gather the Shuttle may last awhile longer, the orion may be cancelled, Lockeheed martin can develop it if they want, and the whole space program is going nowhere right now.
  18. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Well right now, I don't understand why they're putting so much more into the ISS when it's already set them back far greater than the space shuttle. NASA had already spent a significant sum of funding to develop the Orion, which is still far from completion; but it wouldn't make sense to just drop it now of all times.

    If they intend to at least drop Orion, it would at least make sense to keep developing the Ares boosters. Considering the expense which comes from their current generation of rockets, the Ares I alone would offer significant benefits for other programs.
  19. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Hmm, just read this article about the X-37, which seems to be an unmanned version of the Space Shuttle or something. Anyone else know more about it?
  20. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    To my knowledge it is a test vehicle for shuttiling people to orbit on a verticle launch system, kind of like the coming Dragon capsule being created by Space-X. Under current tech you might put 10 to 20 people onboard and put them in orbit for one million per seat or so.
  21. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    A million per seat? That seems rather low to me, considering that it costs upwards of half to a billion dollars just to launch one shuttle mission. That would be like demanding five hundred seats at million for the low scale estimates of even the Orion spacecraft per launch.
  22. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    I recently saw a documentary on the space shuttle that essentially explained why it was fundamentally flawed from the beginning. Although it was reusable, its abilities were really quite limited. For transporting cargo, its maximum capacity for satellites represented ~25-35% of the vehicle's weight. For manned uses, you don't need to have a vehicle weighing 150,000 IB to provide that.

    The great thing about the Orion concept is that it discards only pieces which aren't suitable for returning to Earth. The second stage of the Ares I booster would only have one engine, so it would be cheap enough to discard for every mission. The service module would have the equipment which doesn't need extensive repairs once it returns to Earth. The shuttle's engines are just one of the many systems which are far more difficult to maintain than if just the crew compartment and flight computers were all that came back.
  23. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    http://www.economist.com/science-technology/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15814409&source=hptextfeature

    More space-related stuff. Solar sails to clean up space junk.
  24. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    I don't know how practical that would be. The sail concept for slowing down the satellite after its useful life sounds interesting (as opposed to retro rockets) but I don't see how the sail could withstand impacts by debris without just punching right through it.
  25. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    Is the sail a one shot where it goes down with the debris or does it move around, attach, slow down, then separates?

    The Shuttle is $10,000 a pound. Current cheaper launchers, unmanned, are around $2500 per pound. I have not looke dup Space-X prices, but I could have sworn it'd be a million dollars for on seat to orbit, but I may be overstating the price. The stated threshold goal is $1,000 per pound, which would get me to orbit for something under $200,000. Even that price can come down with frequency of flights and so on. I have seen space elevator estimates for as little as $10 a pound. That's cheap airline prices.


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