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NASA will rely on contractors to help pick up additional tasks as the U.S. space agency deals with money issues

Facing growing financial issues that may eliminate future missions to the moon and Mars, NASA may be prepared to let private contractors have a larger role in its future space endeavors.

President Barack Obama hasn't made any official decisions regarding the future of NASA, but several unnamed government officials and other space experts claim the private sector will be responsible for a larger amount of NASA-backed missions.

Currently, each shuttle launch is government-led, including the use of the current space shuttle fleet, but cost restraints may end up crippling anticipated missions.  During the previous administration, former President George W. Bush outlined a plan for NASA to return to the moon, but Obama's blueprint involves $30 billion to $50 billion less than what was expected over the next decade.

Outsourcing work to the private sector would allow the federal government to save the $30 billion to $50 billion, with contractors expected to help develop rocket-propulsion technology and plan manned launches to Mars.

As space nations outline plans to return to the moon by 2025, NASA is unlikely to launch a manned mission to the moon by 2020, as necessary funding will simply be unavailable.  The U.S. space agency is currently unable to finance any manned launches anywhere past the International Space Station (ISS) at the moment, according to former astronaut Dr. Sally Ride, who said NASA "just can't get there," regarding the moon.

Once the current space shuttle fleet is retired -- which is expected to take place in 2010 -- private contractors will help NASA get back to the ISS, along with the Russian space agency.

If NASA continued with its current budget, a return back to the moon wouldn't be possible until 2028, if not later.

Obama recently put together the Human Space Flight Committee of space experts and politicians to study how feasible it would be to launch towards the moon or Mars, but "at the end of the day, the President will make the decision, not a committee."

Until a final decision is made, the future of the U.S. space agency remains extremely confusing for the public, politicians, and contractors who may be called upon to help NASA with future space missions.

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RE: Great!!
By ayat101 on 8/24/2009 6:14:58 AM , Rating: 2
... all the more reasons to colonise the Milky Way Galaxy even if you have to do it at sublight.

You would get the explore ALL THAT SPACE to search for technological advancement.

In circa 5 million years or so, you would have humans, or the variations into they would evolve over this time, on billions upon billions of planets. Each of them would be working on new technologies. The first one that works out faster than light travel wins, and spreads it around.

If FTL turns out to be impossible, there are other technological advancements that can be shared around.

Personally I have a suspicion that FTL is not possible, and that ultimately we may need to turn to creating new universes from scratch to escape into.

We have enough technology now to start colonising the Solar System. When the Solar system is colonised, we will have the knowledge and resources to start building interstellar space ships... even if they have to move at sublight.

In the time it took humans to split from chimps, people could be settled around just about every star in this Galaxy.

RE: Great!!
By menace on 8/24/2009 2:41:59 PM , Rating: 2
The context of my statements were on the order of the next hundred years. Who can say what the state of human affairs, much less technology, will be in the next million years or so. It's nice to be optimistic but if you look at history there is bound to be a collapse of civilization at some point that will negate some tech advances (more likely numerous cycles of collapse and renewal). That assuming we don't get wiped out by a dinosaur killer or some man made holocaust first.

Technology doesn't always move forward. Just look at the Concorde, 70's era technology that we have failed to improve upon and proven to be economically impractical in the long stretch. Same thing with visiting the moon, we've no need to go back there until we find an economically viable reason to go back. Likewise for Mars. Sure if we pump a couple hundred billion into it we may be able to send a few men there. But what more are they going to learn that you couldn't learn by spending just a few billion dollars on some robotic probes.

"We have enough technology now to start colonising the Solar System." Perhaps, perhaps not. But possibility is not a compelling reason to do it. You have to have an economic case as a motive otherwise it is just a massive waste of resources. I don't want to hear any of this "look at all this wonderful tech we have due to the moon program". At most IMO it helped to advance tech progress a couple of years - do you really think velcro would never have been invented anyway?

RE: Great!!
By ayat101 on 8/25/2009 12:16:11 AM , Rating: 2
Over the next hundred years the best we can do is settle on the Moon. We do not have the resources for anything else - I am talking about the whole world here.

Colonising the Solar System will in my mind take on the order of a few thousand years. After that, there will not be a high danger of us getting wiped out. Plus technology may not always advance quickly, but it does not move back, sometimes it just stays stagnant.

Short of some amazing new technology making space travel easy, there is NO economic case for space colonisation. Period. Combine this with the expense, and we may as well NEVER do it.

Settling the Solar System should be done in terms of spreading out the human race. Coupled with the above economical/resource constraints, you have to start small and proceed slowly. Moon first. Solar system next.

Once the Solar System is settled, we will have enough resources overall to build an interstellar ship... the resources of a whole system is what is required in my mind. The difficulties of interstellar travel without some sort of a "warp drive" are just mind boggling. For one, at sublight, we probably need to learn how to make antimatter and develop it as fuel, as otherwise even fusion does not provide enough energy per unit mass to offset the relativistic mass increase at high speeds... once your speed increases your mass by the mass turned to energy in your fuel, you can not move faster.

"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs
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